Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Contended Theories in Science And Who?

  1. Jan 4, 2004 #1

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Hi people. I have decided to go ahead with this on my own if no one helps me (nudge nudge, if anyone wants to help out on a rather large project, then feel free to email/PM me . Primarily my major concerns are webdesign, and possibly marketing/advertising aspects.)

    Anyway, the idea which I have for the moment called the Forefront Forums is an idea where professional representatives of various fields debate their fields online. If you want to find out what I mean, then I have just prepared a brief explanation of what it is and why it's worth doing in word and attached it to this post.

    The Point of this thread is to ask for people to offer fields/topics/etc in which there is a strong contention between theories, and if possible, present leading advocates of one or two of those theories.

    For example, the best example I can think of is the field Mind Research. What is the mind is an important question, and one which has several well contested theories. There are the Functionalists, Identity theorists and Dualists for a start. Searle and Dennet always argue about cognitivism, so they are possible representatives of two camps. I don't know enough about it all to exactly say who represents what and how the camps should be demarcated (I don't know what is still contested and what is old news) so I can't give a solid example, but hopefully you all understand what I am asking, and can help me out.

    So, I am looking for the topic being contended, the alternat theories, and the leading advocates of each theory.

    THANKS!!!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2004 #2

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    The attachment didn't seem to work: So here it is instead.


    1. What are the Forefront Forums?
    The Forefront Forums are a place where the most respected scientists of each field are invited to come once every five years to debate publicly with advocates of alternate theories.

    The topics to be debated are selected beforehand based on how important the theoretical concepts are to the advancement of human knowledge and on how well the several proposed theories can be represented in debate. The topics may come from any field. For each selected topic the relevant contending theories are identified and the most well respected advocate of each theory is requested to present his theory in debate at Forefront Forums to the best of his ability.

    These debates will be open to public view with alternate forums linked to each debate for public discussion and comment. Only the professional representatives selected for the topics may participate in their private debates.

    The debates will go on for as long as they need to, with the only real time limit being that they have to be finished before the next round of debates start up 5 years later. As such every response within the Main Arena by the representatives is expected to be well thought out and the best answer that they can give. They are, after all, representing their whole field in the eyes of the world.


    2. Why?
    There are several reasons for making this happen. Firstly, it creates an environment that promotes productive problem solving between theoretical camps that tend to ignore each others existence. It pushes the camps, hopefully, towards some sort of reconciliatory ground where the common agreements can be identified and the unsolved problems can be identified. At the very least, it helps all alternate theories involved to better understand their position as opposed to the position held by others, at the very best it will solve major theoretical problems as the disparate camps find common ground and reach startling realisations.

    Secondly, it serves as a historic marker. By holding these debates every five years the progress made by the human race in the realm of theory development can be observed directly. As the most knowledgeable people from each field come together to present their theories, the recording of these arguments not only keeps track of what the theories are, but also of what theories and fields were actually regarded as important, and of what type of intellectual environment is present at any time. Do the most respected individuals come together and productively solve problems, or do they resort to ad hominem attacks and refuse to listen to well reasoned arguments? History is often a much more accurate judge than we ever can be,

    Thirdly, it opens up the ivory tower world of cutting edge theory to the public, allowing anyone to glance in and see where our minds are taking us as a race. Discussion of the debates is open to anyone, so hopefully this interactivity may incite younger generations to also consider involving themselves into one day assisting in the process of furthering human knowledge.
     
  4. Jan 4, 2004 #3

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hi AG, I really like the idea and your ambition, but aren't all the most respected scientists too busy with attending conferences all over the world and discussing their field in person? Also, wouldn't they be limited in their reply since the forum is not considered a publication medium?

    I don't really think professionals are interested in proving their point to some other professional of the other camp. Rather it would be more interesting to have a discussion between a professional and an ambitious student with a curious mind, than a mind set in stone.

    So yeah, it might be worth setting up the system and get it to run (video feed would be cool!!). My advice is, first worry about the webdesign and get that all worked out, then start worrying about marketing and recruiting professionals.
     
  5. Jan 4, 2004 #4

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    That crossed my mind tonight...the thought that they wouldn't be interested with discussing things 'for public benefit', or with other individuals against their theory etc, but I think these factors can be overcome with time and a combination of prestige, publicity and recognition...

    This is a really long term goal. The sort of thing which may be nothing for the first 3 or 4 runnings of it (which will be 20 years long!!!!)

    As for the 'busy schedule' and the live feed idea I guess I didn't explain well enough that there is no physical reality to the website. There aren't actually any people 'getting together' outside of the virtual confines of the website, just as you and I are getting together right now at PF.... And due to the 5 year long deadline on the debate, the debators are free to write their replies in their own comfort. There is no need to feel pressed into extra work.

    I don't understan how the non-publication aspect limits their replies? They can say whatever they want. They are in a one on one, or 3 or 4 way debate with other people who know just as much as they do. The primary intent is for the debate to be real. The public observation is just an afterthought. Infact, in the public forum, I plan on having a professionals forum and a laymans forum so that other professionals in the field can discuss the implications of teh main arena debate and even criticise what they are saying.

    Unfortunately, this is a mindset that is present which I wish wasn't. Science shouldn't be about people feeling like they have the truth and that it is then a burden to explain this truth to others. It should be a fluid exchange of ideas at all times: Especially with those who disagree with you.
     
  6. Jan 4, 2004 #5

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You wanta make this fly? Get the funding agencies (NSF, Nobel, IGT, and such) on board. The days of the genteel self-financed seekers of truth are llloooonnnnnggggg gone. Face the ugly fact that it's all about the rent, the mortgage, utility bills, and food.
     
  7. Jan 4, 2004 #6

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Greg's done a great job by himself so far :wink:
    But thanks, that stuff crossed my mind. I was thinking along the lines of Science, Nature, New scientist etc type journals...
     
  8. Jan 4, 2004 #7

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So, did you research the participation of these journals into other projects? Anywhere on the web where such a project like this has been attempted?
     
  9. Jan 4, 2004 #8

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    No. No research yet. I did a quick Google search for another site similar, but couldn't find anything.

    It's still jsut an idea, but its an idea I want to start forming properly. So I want to know what sorts of questions are faced by each field...
     
  10. Jan 5, 2004 #9

    hypnagogue

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I came across a site something like you are proposing, AG. I believe it was about scientific investigation about psychic events, or something along those lines. In any case I believe I linked to it in the S&D forum a while back, so I will try to fish up the link when I have time and present it to you.
     
  11. Jan 5, 2004 #10

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Another God, I did a little research for you and I found this site a the journal Nature:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/

    A Webdebate!!

    And that is a GOOD thing, since that means Nature is interested in developing such a thing, right now it looks really unattractive and boring.

    Who knows Science magazine has something similar?

    So for you the task to formulate a really ingenious webdesign which would make these discussions much more feasible and collaborate with these major journals in attracting all the right professionals

    Ofcourse, you then also make connections to journals in other fields and get their experts to participate too.
     
  12. Jan 5, 2004 #11

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  13. Jan 5, 2004 #12

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Love your work Monique! You are doing so much for me

    And thanks also Hypnagoguefor that, I'll go have a look for it too...any idea what the thread was called?
     
  14. Jan 5, 2004 #13

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It is in my own best interest too to get this setup right?

    Oh, and will you acknowledge me when you are in Stockholm? :wink:
     
  15. Jan 5, 2004 #14

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Sure thing! Even better, I'll invite you to come join us when we are in stockholm :wink:
     
  16. Jan 6, 2004 #15

    hypnagogue

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The thread was called Eyes On The Back Of Your Head, discussing a well controlled experiment that apparently demonstrated a marked experimenter-effect in collecting data on psychic phenomena. The forum I was referring to is located at http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show212.html and includes a very high quality discussion of the issue by professional scientists, including the experimenters who conducted the experiment described above.

    The page has links to other hyperforums (as they call it) at http://www.hf.caltech.edu/ctt/show212/hftopics.shtml, and listed below. I haven't yet checked out any of these other forums, but if the one mentioned above is any indication they should also be very high quality.

    Will the Internet Change Humanity?
    http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show19.html

    What are the Great Questions of Science?
    http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show101.html

    Can We See the Near Future - Year 2025?
    http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show106.html

    Why Do We Make Music and Art?
    http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show206.html

    Is There a Scientific Basis for Parapsychology?
    http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show212.html
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?