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Crackpot Notions

  1. Aug 22, 2010 #1
    Whats wrong with discussing crackpot notions? It was crackpot notions that made this website soo much fun.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2010 #2

    Danger

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    I'm not sure that it's always wrong to discuss them, as long as none of the comments appear to lend credence to them. We used to have some good laughs over some of them for a page or two. (Only in GD, though.)
     
  4. Aug 22, 2010 #3
    I should have pointed out that crackpot notions should be kept in the GD forum, although just about anything to do with physics could be described as crackpot mumbo jumbo by someone all depends on what you beleive.

    We could do with some of the old crackpots like entropy, tribdog or MRP back, they where always good for a laugh.
     
  5. Aug 22, 2010 #4

    Pythagorean

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    Crackpot is not pseudoscience. A real crackpot makes falsifiable statements. They're just not popular among contemperaries. String theory is considered crackpot by some, but it still pulls a lot of funding.
     
  6. Aug 22, 2010 #5

    CRGreathouse

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    Would you expand on this? In particular, how do you define "crackpot" and "pseudoscience"?

    I'm accustomed to (what I call) crackpots failing to make falsifiable predictions, and I know that the same accusation has been leveled against string theory (or at least M-theory).
     
  7. Aug 22, 2010 #6

    Moonbear

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    Holy Schmoly! Good to see you around here again, Andy. The problem was that crackpots are only fun for so long, then they got tiresome and tedious when the same arguments went in the same circles over and over.

    I have to agree with CRGreathouse that the crackpots make statements that are not falsifiable, which makes them not scientific, and near impossible to debate. (If the statements are falsifiable, it's still science, even if not necessarily well-supported and likely to be quickly disproven.) They were really only entertaining to poke sticks at and laugh about, but too much work to keep contained as the site grew.
     
  8. Aug 23, 2010 #7
    So if told you that i thought the entire universe had been created by one single supreme being, would that make me a crackpot?
     
  9. Aug 23, 2010 #8

    Pythagorean

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    CRGreathouse:

    There was a lot of criticism against string theory before predictions made and experiments were designed.
     
  10. Aug 23, 2010 #9
    Yeah I don't believe that thread should have been closed. Crackpot in what sense? I'm sure at the time just as it is now with global warming there would have been fierce debates on both sides.

    Perhaps looking on how it was handled could give us a better understanding of what is happening with this global warming fiasco of now.
     
  11. Aug 23, 2010 #10

    ZapperZ

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    Yes, because you made an unfalsifiable statement that also has no meaning.

    This forum may have started, way back when, when everything goes. But as time progressed and the number of members increased (along with the number of postings), moderating such crackpottery because time consuming and incommensurate to any kind of value that one could get out of such a thing. So we decided that PF can't be everything to everyone. There are already an overwhelming number of public forums where such crackpottery are accepted. What's wrong with reserving a very minuscule part of the internet to something that caters only to a high signal-to-noise ratio? The crackpots have so many other places to air their dirty laundry.

    I also would think that had we continue to cater to such crackpottery, we won't have garnered the same type of respect that we have had these past few years. I would highly doubt that Scientific American would partner and promote this forum had we continue along such line. But more importantly, we certainly will have a tougher time attracting professionals in the relevant areas to participate in this forum.

    Zz.
     
  12. Aug 23, 2010 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    If it was a discussion about personal beliefs, it would probably be okay. If you tried to argue that your belief is a fact, or if you injected your beliefs into other discussions, then you would be in trouble. Personal beliefs don't require justification, but statements of fact do.

    Also, science has nothing to say about a God, so it would generally be inappropriate to interject such beliefs in most discussions, be it pro or con. In either case one would be a crackpot.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  13. Aug 23, 2010 #12

    D H

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    I disagree with ZapperZ's answer. Just because Andy made an unfalsifiable statement does not make him a crackpot. There are after all plenty of scientists who do not see any inherent conflict between their religious beliefs and their scientific endeavors. Andy would have had to gone quite a bit further with his statement before it verged into the realm of psychoceramics.

    I agree with everything else Zapper stated in that post.

    To add one thing: This forum has evolved to the point that its primary purpose is to help students. Allowing crackpot notions to flourish at this site would be a disservice to this primary objective. Those crackpot discussion threads tended to go on and on and have very high post counts. Students often do not have the requisite knowledge to distinguish crackpottery from valid science. A student who doesn't know better might well have seen the huge amount of traffic in those crackpot threads as a sign that the notion being discussed is not only a valid subject but an important one at that.
     
  14. Aug 23, 2010 #13

    dlgoff

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    Our rules help but what can we do to help them realize how "so much crap" is out there so they get started in the right direction? Just wondering.
     
  15. Aug 23, 2010 #14

    Evo

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    Perhaps a locked sticky thread listing various crackpot topics that come up.

    This would show them what's not valid science, yet would allow no discussions.
     
  16. Aug 23, 2010 #15
    I cant argue with anything anyone has said (mainly because your all smarter than me) but surely if someone where to come up with a crackpot discussion you smart people would be able enlighten them? Obviously if that person where to be immune to common sense and a good sensible arguement then the thread should be locked.

    I only brought this up as i thought it was abit unfair to lock someones thread without really providing an answer to his/her question.
     
  17. Aug 23, 2010 #16

    ZapperZ

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    An unfalsifiable statement, by itself, is not a crackpot statement. If it is, then all religions are crackpottery (one could make ample arguments there in of itself). However, within the context of physics and being posted on physics forum for consideration to be evaluated using physics, an unfalsifiable statement like that is crackpottery.

    Zz.
     
  18. Aug 23, 2010 #17

    ZapperZ

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    Again, we have to consider (i) the effort put in (ii) the benefit from such an effort (iii) are they worth the effort? From my experience both here on PF, and my involvement in the Usenet from way back in 1989 (I'm dating myself), I see almost ZERO worth in engaging from such an effort. The "learning" factor is often trampled by other crackpots joining in the fun. In fact, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence where people who sincerely wanted to learn simply tune out when the discussion got so convoluted that no one could understand who was saying what. We have had such a thing happening here on PF. I will strongly argue that the educational "worth" is insufficient to warrant the effort when compared to the hassle and confusion injected into such a discussion.

    Zz.
     
  19. Aug 24, 2010 #18
    Agreed but the thread that was locked (cant remember what it was called but something to do with the ozone layer) without allowing anybody to even attempt to discuss the subject. Surely the mentors can monitor the discussion and if it turns into some crazy crackpot discussion then they could shut it down.
     
  20. Aug 24, 2010 #19
    and when it comes to wasteing server space, has anyone seen the PF random thoughts thread? Or the the best songs ever thread?
     
  21. Aug 24, 2010 #20

    Danger

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    Try checking the archives for the "Thread Killer Thread"... :eek:
     
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