Discussing science online can often be a frustrating experience if no quality controls are in place, which is often the case. As part useful reference and part entertainment PF has put together an adequate list of common attributes associated with dubious scientific discussion. Next time you’re in a discussion, check this list to see if your participants are debating in good faith or not.
Thanks to the dozen or so PF staff and advisors helped compile this list.
Style and Formatting
5 points: Obvious copy and paste
5 points: Wall of Text
5 points: Over the top special formatting
20 points: No math shown
20 points: Excessive math without consistency or explanations
5 points: “you don’t allow open-minded people to post about the subject”
5 points: “I am thinking out of the box”
5 points: “Science is all about asking questions”
5 points: “you are censoring discussion”
10 points: “Einstein was just a clerk”
10 points: “Einstein was bad at math”
15 points: “I’ve been working on this for 20 years”
15 points: “people didn’t believe Galileo initially”
20 points: “Units here ≠ units here”
20 points: “Scientists/others try to ban/suppress my theory”
30 points: “Because I haven’t had formal training I can see things others might have missed”
30 points: “I’m not a physicist, but…”
30 points: “I don’t know the math”
50 points: “I just discovered the laws of physics are wrong”
Refuting the establishment
5 points: You can’t conclude something you don’t have direct evidence for
15 points: Science is wrong because it doesn’t do logic correctly
20 points: Skeptical of the standard model
25 points: Claiming Einstein was a radical in his day
25 points: Claiming that Relativity is only accepted due to Einstein’s reputation
25 points: Claiming that Einstein plagiarized his work
30 points: Claiming Einstein is wrong
30 points: Claiming Newton is wrong
5 points: Putting mentors / science advisors on ignore.
5 points: Post offers a complicated analogy rather than a descriptive model
10 points: Ignoring critiques.
10 points: Profane, insulting, threatening PMs to complain about their Notice/Infraction…
50 points: Creating a sockpuppet to agree with you.
5 points: Uses http://vixra.org or similar reference
5 points: Link URL contains multiple hyphens
5 points: Link URL domain is something other than .com .edu .org or .gov
10 points: Posting under the pretense of asking a question
10 points: References to simplified models designed for TV shows etc
15 points: Digging up 100-year-old papers looking for a secret
15 points: Links to article written by a content writing company
20 points: Links to paper published on personal website
20 points: Personal blog link
30 points: Citing or quoting sources in support of their position which in reality refute their position
15 points: Science is wrong because of my philosophical beliefs
15 points: Using words without a proper definition
40 points: Mentions science fiction, UFOs or pseudoscience
40 points: Includes the words like “truths”, “God”, “secret”, “breakthrough”, “revolutionary”, “mystery”
50 points: Includes topics from our banned topic list
Bonus! Turn it into a game!
I have a BS in Information Sciences from UW-Milwaukee. I’ve helped manage Physics Forums for over 17 years. I enjoy learning and discussing new science developments. STEM communication and policy are big interests as well. I have a lovely wife and a cat named Mason.