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Is there a crackdown on speculative posts?

  1. Jul 1, 2005 #1
    I've noticed a recent tendency against speculative posts. This seems odd, since this was the main reason I joined PF. For instance Arctic Fox asked what seems to be a reasonable question https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=621169#post621169 only to be told that it isn't worth discussing.

    More seriously, users have been banned, where it seems the only reason is that their ideas are non-standard. In particular Caroline Thompson, who tries to highlight the loopholes in experiments demonstrating Bell's inequality. I don't see that this is a reason to be banned. Her posts are accepted by sci.physics.research, and I would expect moderation on PF to be less strict than on SPR. Likewise Eugene Shubert (perfectly innocent) has posts accepted on SPR but has been banned on PF. Is there a good reason for this, or is PF being restricted to 'standard' physics?
     
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  3. Jul 1, 2005 #2

    Moonbear

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    Well, for some time now there has been moderation and locking of overly-speculative posts, and yes, the forum is being kept focused on standard physics, if by "standard" you mean peer-reviewed, published physics. Just see the thread just above or below yours here on Theory Development, where this has been discussed ad nauseum.

    As for the thread you provided as an example, it starts right out with "Forget Einstein..." People in that thread seem to be asking, "why?" However, you'll note that the thread is not locked or the poster banned, the folks posting seem to be trying to get clarification on what the point of such an exercise is and to ask people to justify their answers. Otherwise, if someone wants to have a science fiction poll (i.e., if anything was possible, what would you prefer), then it belongs in General Discussion, not one of the more serious science forums.

    I have never visited any of those sci.physics.* groups, so don't know what they do or do not allow, but from the discussions that have gone on here, I get the impression that almost anything goes there, and our moderation and dedication to accuracy is more rigorous.

    You'll notice that Theory Development is a closed forum. Once in a while a post or two is moved there and tentatively allowed to remain open to give a poster benefit of the doubt, but generally, the decision was made that those types of topics are too time-consuming for the mentors and don't have enough of a benefit to justify that additional time. If people can post those topics for discussion someplace else, then let them discuss them there.

    There is a difference between speculation based on sound evidence and over-speculation based on no scientific foundation, or a very poor foundation.
     
  4. Jul 1, 2005 #3

    arildno

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    The thread in question has neither been locked nor moved to TD; chroot must be allowed to express his opinion about it.
     
  5. Jul 1, 2005 #4

    ZapperZ

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    I do not believe that the postings by Caroline Thompson were stopped because her ideas were "non-standard". All you need to do is check her understanding of basic physics, which she FREELY admits, isn't much. And don't let her fool you into believing that she's trying to restore the classical light picture - she thinks Maxwell Equations are also wrong and nothing more than just "math" (ref: QM2 Yahoo group).

    Point I'm trying to get across: there is no such thing as worthwhile non-standard ideas when they are based on utter ignorance.

    Zz.
     
  6. Jul 1, 2005 #5

    Gokul43201

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    IMO, unless the Arctic Fox provides some justification for listing option #2, that thread belongs in GD. Moreover, he asks that specific tools of science that deal directly with his question not be used or talked about. In short, that thread is not about science...yet. If he does provide a justification, the thread should go to either S&D or TD.
     
  7. Jul 1, 2005 #6

    Gokul43201

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    From the Forum Guidelines (that all members accept, before signing up) :

     
  8. Jul 1, 2005 #7
    True of the unmoderated sci.physics forum (where flame wars abound), not of the moderated sci.physics.research. I have to say that if I have a serious physics question to ask then I would post it in SPR, not in PF. I can't see PF ever having the same authority as SPR, and if its moderation criteria are more strict then it's difficult to see where PF is going. I see Caroline Thompson as someone who is serious about showing problems with Bell test experiments, rather than someone peddling crackpot ideas (Although some of the sites she links to fall into that category). Looking at her website - http://freespace.virgin.net/ch.thompson1/ - it seems that it's only PF who reject her ideas out of hand.

    I can't help thinking that whether or not someone is banned from PF should depend on their posts to PF, not to other forums (or Wikipedia, which seems to have been the source of most of the friction).
     
  9. Jul 1, 2005 #8
    Is this some attempt at a guilt trip? The sky is not falling, quite frankly.
     
  10. Jul 1, 2005 #9

    Tom Mattson

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    Just out of curiosity, why would your decision to post a question here have anything to do with our policies against crackpottery?

    Firstly, I don't see Caroline or her ilk stinking up SPR either, so I'm not exactly sure of what you are talking about. And secondly, I don't know why you would not think that PF has the same authority as SPR (whatever that means), but even if it were true it is still not the case that outside influences do or should determine our policies here at PF. And it should be perfectly clear as to where we are going: We are trying to be the best scientific discussion forum on the internet.

    She wasn't rejected out of hand. She was heard and answered before she was banned.

    Her banning from PF did arise from her posts here. Here's just one example.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=58093

    And as for Eugene Shubert, his ideas are routinely torn to pieces on SPR and the like. If they want to allow this "I proved you wrong", "No you didn't", "Yes I did" nonsense to go on ad infinitum then that is their problem, not ours.
     
  11. Jul 1, 2005 #10

    ZapperZ

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    But YOU were the one who brought up the comparison with OTHER physics forums. Thus, you opened the door to that avenue and I'm just using the same tactic as you did. Furthermore, I am pointing out EVIDENCE that her point of view is not entirely kosher - she's a quack who knows how to disguise her ignorance of physics through cleverly-manipulated sentences so that physicists have a hard time deciphering what she's trying to say. Read her Chaotic Ball paper, or am I again bringing up external sources that has no relevence here?

    Your claim that she was banned simply for the singular reason that her ideas were "non-mainstream" is just plain wrong.

    Zz.
     
  12. Jul 1, 2005 #11

    chroot

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    One extra data point: Caroline Thompson has been forcibly evicted from many other venues on the web. She has been a nuisance on wikipedia for the better part of a year, and frankly is not at all a rational person. This is more than evident by watching her behavior among other professional scientists working on the encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Bell_test_experiments

    We do not intend to copy-cat the moderation of other venues. We do not intend to welcome any and all persons with open arms. We do not intend to be used as a soapbox. The majority of us are happy to have carved out a (relatively) sane haven on the web to discuss real physics, and we'd like to keep it that way. If our ideals are not compatible with yours, please vote with your feet.

    - Warren
     
  13. Jul 1, 2005 #12

    Moonbear

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    And conversely, even if someone is permitted to post elsewhere, even on the slim chance they have multiple personality disorder and post cogently everywhere else and only exhibit crackpot tendencies here, we can only judge them by their posts here. What they post out in sci.physics.* is irrelevant to how PF is run. We have our objectives and they have theirs, and there's no reason for one site to need to emulate the other.
     
  14. Jul 1, 2005 #13

    Nereid

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    chronon, you may or may not agree with Tom as to where you think PF should be going.

    Let's assume for the moment that some of us do want to head in the direction Tom summarises.

    Would you please be kind enough to tell us how (in your mind) we can best get to that goal? If it helps, imagine the content scope is principally physics, astronomy, cosmology, and mathematics. In particular, what stance should PF take to 'non-mainstream' ideas? How much should we insist that such ideas are self-consistent? consistent with good experimental and observational results? quantitative?

    Kind Regards
    Nereid
     
  15. Jul 2, 2005 #14
    I see nothing in that thread which would in any way justify banning. What I do see is that

    #1) The posts is not do not have the precision of a scientific paper.
    #2) The idea Caroline is putting forward (the non-existence of the photon) is non-standard

    If #1 is used as a criterion then most posters to PF would be banned. I think that we agree that #2 should not be used as a criterion for banning. Indeed in this case the idea isn't so non-standard - look at the comments of Willis Lamb. It looks like the problem is not so much that Caroline's posts are deep within the Crackpot region as that they are on the borderline - that is some of the ideas might one day be accepted. This is likely to seem much more threatening to some people.

    When talking about the policies of PF it is natural to compare it to other forums. I'm not trying to imply that SPR is in all ways superior to PF. I post to (and read) PF much more than SPR. But a post to SPR is likely to be read by many experienced physicists, whereas a post to PF is not. I think that this is something which you have to accept, and not to try to make PF into something which it is not.

    So what are my ideas on how PF should be moderated?

    1) Posters should only be banned for severe breaches of netiquette, (flaming etc.) not for the opinions they express.
    2) Threads can be moved to the appropriate forum, to theory development if necessary, but it is better if borderline threads are left where they are.
    3) PF can tolerate long discussions around an idea (in SPR the moderators will stop a thread if they think it has gone on long enough)
    4) Moderators should add comments to posts to indicate that they consider them to be non-standard. I can see that if someone posts asking for homework help then they are likely to be confused if a non-standard theory is posted in reply
     
  16. Jul 2, 2005 #15

    chroot

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    She was not banned for a single post. She was banned because she only posted on a single topic, and that topic was non-mainstream, and thus against the guidelines that she agreed to follow when she signed up. She had ample time to get in line.
    There is no reason why PF should not attract more and more professionals. Nor is there any reason why PF should not try to become "something it is not." We have a large membership and a strong leadership. We can become anything we want to become, whether or not you like it.

    Check out sciforums, and see for yourself how well that approach works on the internet.
    We have redirects, so there's no harm in moving a thread to its appropriate forum.
    Some people will never stop arguing, even after every conceivable argument has already been made dozens of times. When our staff decides a thread is "done," it's done.
    Non-mainstream posts are generally dealt with by splitting or deleting. If a post is wrong, yet "close enough" to be allowed to stand, someone invariably corrects it.

    - Warren
     
  17. Jul 2, 2005 #16
    There seems to be some confusion as to whether posting non-mainstream ideas deserves to get you banned

    Except that it isn't. I have always found it strange that PF doesn't have a TOS link, but this is what you get when you sign up

     
  18. Jul 2, 2005 #17

    Janus

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    What Gokul43201 quoted is found in the Forum Feedback & Announcements forums as a sticky named:

    "Physics Forums & mkaku.org Forums Guidelines"

    Found here:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=66018#post66018
     
  19. Jul 2, 2005 #18

    Tom Mattson

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    As has been emphasized over and over: She wasn't banned for any one thread or post. But the posts in that thread are unquestionably cranky, and therefore against the policies of this website. Mix 1 part ignorance with 1 part arrogance and 1 part persistence, bake for a month, and you've got a perfectly cooked banned crackpot.

    She demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of what physics is and how it is done. That in itself is not worthy of a ban, but the authoritative tone she takes while being so badly mistaken is not good. Its presence damages the educational credibility of PF, and is worthy of a ban IMO.

    No one is threatened by anything she wrote. The problem here is that she attempted to supplant a well-established theory with some half baked idea that sounds good to her. We don't stand for that here, and I dare say that any forum that does stand for it cannot hold a candle to our "authority", if I read your meaning of that term correctly.

    Baloney. ZapperZ is at Argonne, Ahrkron is at CERN (and he was at Fermilab until last year), Reilly is a retired physicist, and the list goes on and on. We have many outstanding professionals here, and the list gets larger all the time.

    You said in a previous post that you would be more likely to ask serious questoins about physics on SPR. Why do you ask serious questions at all? Why don't you settle for just not knowing? Why don't you just accept it, rather than try to make yourself something which you are not?

    See what a dumb question that is?

    With all due respect, your ideas are a recipe for certain failure.
     
  20. Jul 2, 2005 #19
    Silly me, the fourth thread in the second forum from the bottom of the list, the obvious place for the Forum Guidelines.

     
  21. Jul 2, 2005 #20

    Tom Mattson

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    Actually, chronon is right about this. Those guidelines are not displayed at the registration prompt.

    But at the same time we don't go around bashing people over the head for infractions. I think we have a good track record of letting people know where they can find the Guidelines when necessary. Besides it should be common knowledge that it's bad netiquette to irreverently come into a scientific forum like gangbusters and start blazing away at the foundations of modern science. It should also be common knowledge that a forum called "Feedback and Announcements" just might contain a few...well...announcements.
     
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