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Discussing wacko theories

  1. Jun 22, 2012 #1
    Hello all, I'm a bit surprised about the policy of not discussing crackpot theories in the Skepticism & Debunking forum. My first post here (a couple years back) was actually about John Titor and got locked straight away, which kind of rubbed me the wrong way att. I found my way here yesterday again (sorry for re-registering, I didn't realise I was here before) to get word on Athene's theory of everything. I found another post about it but this got locked too because "Unpublished theories are not open for discussion here".

    Why this policy? If people wish to waste their time on crackpot theories why not let them run wild in the Skepticism & Debunking sandbox?
    Now I'm left wondering where else interested laymen like me are supposed to find more reliable info about such matters?
     
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  3. Jun 22, 2012 #2

    micromass

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    This is supposed to be a serious forum discussing mainstream science. I'm sure there are a lot of other forums and sites discussing those theories, but this forum is not one of them.

    The matter of fact is that we have a lot of very smart people here on this forum, among which are many professional scientists. These people would leave if we would start discussing crackpottery.

    Also see my blog entry on such things: https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=3751 [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jun 22, 2012 #3

    Pengwuino

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    You just answered your own questions. When people start going on about unpublished theories, two things happen. A vast majority of the time the original poster is adamant about their viewpoints, regardless of its scientific validity, and is not looking to discuss the merit of the theory. They simply want to tell people what they feel is true. This is not the point of this forum. It is mainly for interested individuals who want to actually learn real physics. People who come in with crackpot theories never have any real scientific evidence and are not trying to do science or discuss science.

    The second problem is that people get belligerent and start name-calling and resorting to personal attacks. This forum tries to be above that and the moderating required to let people run wild is far and beyond what anyone is willing to put into the forums. The mentors are unpaid volunteers so it is not fair to ask them to moderate a bunch of people who have no interest in contributing to the forum in meaningful ways.
     
  5. Jun 22, 2012 #4

    ZapperZ

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    Do you also go into a vegetarian restaurant and then questioned why there is no meat being served?

    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=2979 [Broken]

    Zz.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jun 22, 2012 #5

    Evo

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    But telling you it's nonsense not worth discussing IS reliable information. I think what you are looking for are people willing to accept that crackpottery may be true.
     
  7. Jun 22, 2012 #6

    DaveC426913

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    If you want an abject lesson in what happens when people are allowed to go wild with personal theories, go to sciforums.com. It is a study in contrast with PF.

    I went there for a few months to try it out, and have had to leave because it is incredibly toxic.

    BTW, it is not arbitrary that PF disallows personal theories. PF's explicit mandate is to facilitate two primary things:
    1] the exploration of mainstream science
    1] homework help for students, which requires the focus on 1]
     
  8. Jun 22, 2012 #7
    I think some people need reasons for why some crackpot ideas are crackpot ideas. For example, I know some people who wear those bracelets that supposed to make you balanced or athletic or something. Just telling them it's BS doesn't do anything, because they buy into the reasons the product supposedly works. Like my friend's cousins were talking about how it contains ions. To them that's a scientific reason, even though that's not even what the company claims. The company claims the bracelet is imbued with some frequency that matches the body, or something asinine like that. Some people need to be told how those claims make no sense from a scientific point of view.
     
  9. Jun 22, 2012 #8

    ZapperZ

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    That is not what the OP is asking about. Product claims such as that are part os S&D forum. What the OP wants is a discussion on crackpot physics ideas.

    That is clearly prohibited in our rules, and it is not even ambiguous.

    Zz.
     
  10. Jun 22, 2012 #9
    Would it not be possible to lock topics on individual basis when/if they derail? I feel it's a shame level headed folk can't be pointed to the right resources to make up a somewhat educated opinion. I would think Skepticism & Debunking environment is the one place suited for this.

    I guess I might if I wanted trustworthy answers on certain dubious vegitarian foodproducts.

    That's presumptuous, I'm not looking for validation at all, I would just like to make up my own mind by asking experts for help.

    I'm not just here for discussing crackpot stuff, I like to dabble in physics programming (for games) and I'm trying to get my head around mathematical notation so I may one day translate certain mathematical formulas to infix notation. :)

    And for the record I'm not a believer or defender of any crackpot theory whatsoever, but every once in a while one seems to fit with the little scientific knowledge that I do posses. I enjoy science fiction in addition to science and I'm trying to keep them well seperated.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  11. Jun 22, 2012 #10

    Pengwuino

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    As stated before, a VAST majority of people are not here to make honest contributions and discussions with fringe/crackpot theories. It is not fair to the unpaid mentors to have to police a section where there will be 99 derailed threads for every 1 thread that actually helps people understand something.

    If you had read Zz's blog post, you would have seen that we have already tried this with disastrous results.
     
  12. Jun 22, 2012 #11

    ZapperZ

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    What EXACTLY is preventing you from doing this at other forums? I mean there are TONS of other forums that cater to such things. Why, WHY do you want one the few that would not want to cater such a thing to change? Are you being deprived of the freedom to discuss this elsewhere?

    No one has ever explained this to me. Are there people out there so incensed that there is even ONE forum that simply will not allow crackpot discussion, dispute the numerous other forums that do? What is the logic here?

    If you tell me that PF, unlike the other forums, has EXPERTS who actually know what they are talking about, well BINGO! Guess why we are able to attract such members in the first place?!! It is the lack and intolerance of such garbage that is rampant in the other forums!

    Zz.
     
  13. Jun 22, 2012 #12
    Hahahahahaha. I'm so sorry, but I couldn't stop laughing after I read that. You get one person that posts some crackpot theory, and the next thing you know, a couple of thousand more post their crackpot theories. It's almost like they all know each other.
     
  14. Jun 22, 2012 #13
    When people discuss newly released films here, they prominently display "SPOILER ALERT" in the title.

    I propose this: if a crackpot like me is willing to put up a title like "CRACKPOT ALERT: How to levitate your girlfriend without magnets" then all you prim and proper Physicists can agree to stay out of the thread and not have your feathers ruffled. Meanwhile those of us with genuine unorthodox ideas can get some open-minded feedback from experienced physicists.

    Because that's what you can't get by taking your ideas to another forum- the concise feedback of experienced mainstream physicists.
     
  15. Jun 22, 2012 #14

    micromass

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    We tried that, it doesn't work. Crackpottery spreads quickly.

    So I propose this: people with crackpot ideas go to another forum and post there.
     
  16. Jun 22, 2012 #15
    I beleive you but I disagree.

    Rudeness would spread quickly too but the mods are on it and it doesn't pose a threat. The same would work here, and like I said going elsewhere doesn't work if you want to know what's wrong with your ideas.
     
  17. Jun 22, 2012 #16

    DaveC426913

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    Well, except that when you quash rude behavior, people don't start calling you goose-stepping Nazis and scream about their rights in a free country to be rude.
     
  18. Jun 22, 2012 #17

    Evo

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    The thing is, we are not here to discuss crackpottery. We discuss mainstream science. It's not up to us to try to explain what is wrong with a fictional scenario, it's up to the people pushing fictional scenarios to prove they're real. How do we prove imaginary claims don't exist? That's not how it works. If someone claims to have something outside of known science, then when they get it published in a manistream peer reviewed journal, they can post it here.
     
  19. Jun 22, 2012 #18

    lisab

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    I understand the desire people have to "think outside the box". We're taught that the great thinkers did that - like Einstein.

    But you best believe that Einstein knew all about thinking *inside* the box. He was thoroughly familiar with what was currently known at the time.

    If you want to be a great - or even a good - physicist, you must be familiar with what is already known. It's hard work! Sometimes it's even drudgery! But if you want to get to the point where you can legitimately "think out of the box", you must do it.

    PF's mission is simple: we're all about helping people learn what is already known.
     
  20. Jun 22, 2012 #19

    DaveC426913

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    I like that. :smile:
     
  21. Jun 22, 2012 #20

    Evo

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    Ooooh, you're sooo good!
     
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