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Crackpot argument on Physicsforums gets published?

  1. Nov 18, 2007 #1
    Crackpot argument on Physicsforums gets published!?

    Wow, I remember https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=1252374&postcount=71"

    In the paper he repeats his arguments championing an interpretation of D.R. Gagnon et al., Guided-wave measurement of the one-way speed of light, Physical Review 38A(4), 1767 (1988);

    The experimental data is fine, but they make an error of analysis and claim to distinguish two coordinate systems experimentally. This unfortunately got buried in their arguments, and it got by reviewers. Eventually people were able to convince Adrian Sfarti that the paper was clearly wrong, but despite all efforts, no one could convince Adrian Sfarti against perpetuating this crackpot claim that an experiment could distinguish coordinate systems. And now he published it!

    Truly amazing! A physicsforum argument led to a publication.

    Anyway, after skimming his paper, I still couldn't remember exactly what all happenned in the argument. Re"reading"/skimming, I forgot how long, drawn out, and the number of people involved (Pervect of course always kept his cool, but many others... not so well). One really interesting thing I noticed is that he practically copied the work written here by a member he was arguing against. Compare the work in his paper to this:

    So crackpots can learn something apparently since his views evolved some (I am impressed at that). But he still refuses to admit (among other things of course) that the waveguide modes are TE modes (which is what the experiment used, because the lowest waveguide mode is a TE mode and they also explicitly state they used a TE mode).

    If anyone actually feels like reading it. Ignoring the sudden change of solutions in the start of section 3, his error actually appears when he applies a coordinate transformation near the end of section 3 to try to get to the lab frame even though the calculations were already done in the lab frame.

    Has this kind of thing happenned before, an argument from Physics Forums ending up published?

    Also I realize this isn't a high ranking journal, but what is it? I skimmed some other articles published in it, and they looked alright. So I wouldn't classify it as a crank journal. Or am I missing something?

    Anyway, I thought this developement was bizarre and interesting, and just wanted to pass it on.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2007 #2


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    Er.... am I the only one who don't know what "Nature and Science" journal is? How do you know that it isn't a "crank journal"?

    I'm also skeptical of a journal that list its author with a "Dr....". No journal that I know of does that.

    So no, if I were you, I would be highly skeptical of this journal and its credibility. I'm also wondering if you're inadvertently giving this some 'free advertisement'.

  4. Nov 18, 2007 #3
    I don't, that's why I asked :)

    Good point about the Dr. thing, I didn't notice that (and the formatting of the whole thing is bad).

    Hmm... I didn't think of that.
    But it is not good advertisement. And publications definitely don't fall in the "all publicity is good publicity" sphere. So I don't think it really hurts anything. I just found it amusing when I ran across it.
  5. Nov 18, 2007 #4

    Doc Al

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    only the highest of standards!

    Here's a quote from the "Nature and Science" http://www.msu.edu/~isa/callpaper.htm" letter:
    "If you have anything including research reports, review papers or any other related article to be published, it is a good chance. At least it is better than letting your precious achievements sleep in your drawers. If you have some friends for this, let them contribute papers also. Let's work together to promulgate our research results/opinions, to do what we can do."​
    Hilarious. Not exactly Physical Review, I'd say.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  6. Nov 18, 2007 #5
    Hahaha... priceless. Thanks.

    Actually, out of curiousity, what is the usual way for someone to write a rebutal to something like Gagnon's original Physics Review paper? While I can't know for sure what they thought, since most of the theory is in another paper, I feel it is quite possible Gagnon et al. didn't realize the two "theories" they were trying to experimentally distinguish were actually the same, and just different coordinate systems. (Adrian Sfarti was told this multiple times so he doesn't have that excuse of course.) Because of this, once the error is pointed out it becomes quite clear, so is the most appropriate way to mail the authors politely and if they agree they publish a very short "errata" kind of thing? (after all their experimental data is fine)

    If that doesn't work, it's kind of strange since it doesn't really merit an entire paper, so where would one publish it? Is it customary to write a very short discussion and submit it to the journal (Physical Review) that published this?

    If there is a customary way to do this, maybe one of us should just submit something so other people don't misinterpret that Gagnon paper. Their data matches the predictions of relativity, but all their comments beyond that seem to be wrong.
  7. Nov 18, 2007 #6


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    First of all, you need to look at the citation index to see what papers have referred to it. There's a good chance that if a paper has a mistake, someone's bound to see it and would have already written either a rebuttal, or referred to the mistake in another paper. On the other hand, if there isn't any (i.e. the paper has zero citation), then that already speaks volumes.

    If, in the remote chance that no one has pointed out the mistake, then you can either (i) write a whole new paper to address the mistake or (ii) write a rebuttal. Go to the Phys. Rev. webpage and there are ample instructions on writing a rebuttal.

  8. Nov 18, 2007 #7
    I just checked, and besides Adrian Sfarti's paper, the Gagnon paper has only been cited a couple times. However one was by C.M.Will and, in addition to its experimental data, provided a nice overview of such experiments, and has therefore been cited a decent number of times and continues to be cited. But C.M.Will doesn't repeat the incorrect interpretations of the Gagnon data.

    Eh, I guess if someone really feels like it they could write a small rebuttal and let Phys. Rev. decide if it is worth printing a small correction to Gagnon's paper.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2007
  9. Nov 18, 2007 #8


    Staff: Mentor


    "Nature" is a prestigous journal, and so is "Science", so "Nature and Science" must be even better!!! If you are going to shoot, aim high.

    I liked the "Introductions to Authors" section too. Usually I try to follow the "Instructions to Authors" but I guess in this journal it is not "what" you know but "who" you know that is important.
  10. Nov 18, 2007 #9


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    Not to mention:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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