Outside the Mainstream Forum

Tom Mattson
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Main Question or Discussion Point

"Outside the Mainstream" Forum

To the members of the PF community,

As the next step in the growth of Physics Forums, we are updating our policy concerning the development of personal theories at this website. We will be creating a new, moderated Forum entitled Outside the Mainstream, wherein such theories can be submitted for approval by the Staff and Science Advisors of Physics Forums. We will implement this new policy in such a way as to be of maximum benefit first to Physics Forums and second to you, the theorist. The policy change will take effect on July 15, 2005, and the new Forum will be a Subforum of Scepticism and Debunking.

To guarantee that the scientific and academic integrity of Physics Forums is not compromised we will only accept independent research that conforms to strict guidelines, which will be posted at the top of the new Forum.

To guarantee sufficient latitude to the independent theorist guidelines will not be imposed as to the probable truth or falsity of the submitted theory. Rather, the guidelines will be constraints on methodology and format.

As a consequence of this upgrade, all non mainstream posts and threads that were formerly moved to Theory Development will henceforth be deleted. If your post or thread is deleted under this policy you will receive a Private Message indicating such, and you will be invited to resubmit to the new Outside the Mainstream Forum, according to the guidelines of that Forum. All submissions will be sent to a moderation queue, where they will be discussed by the Staff and Science Advisors. We will notify you with a decision within 7 days. If your submission is rejected, you will be told the reason, and you will be given one opportunity to resubmit.

We believe that this new feature will serve as the next step in PF's upward development, and that it will be enjoyable for our most original, creative members.

The following new Theory Development Guidelines will be posted at the top of the new Forum and will Take Effect July 15, 2005

1. The opening post must contain an abstract stating the results obtained and how the new theory is at variance with currently accepted theories.

2. If an independently researched theory makes claims different from those made by currently accepted theories then the opening post must contain a section that either cites experiments that have been done that decide between the new and old theories, or it must propose experiments that could be done to decide between the two.

3. If an independently researched theory is experimentally indistinguishable from a currently accepted theory then the opening post must contain a section that clearly explains the conceptual differences between the two, and what if anything is to be gained from the new perspective.

4. All references to relevant prior work must be documented in the opening post.

5. Quantitative predictions must be derived, wherever appropriate.

6. New theories must not be already strongly inconsistent with the results of prior experiments.

7. If a new theory is strongly inconsistent with prior experiments, but the theorist is insisting that the experiments were either misconducted or misinterpreted by the scientific community, then the thread will be rejected. Instead the theorist should rebut the contradicting scientists in an appropriate journal.

8. Theories containing obvious mathematical or logical errors will not be accepted.


The decision to accept or reject a thread for this Subforum rests with the Staff and Science Advisors of Physics Forums. Decisions will be reached by consensus, and will be based entirely on the guidelines listed above. No Staff Member or Science Advisor will participate in the discussion of his or her own thread.

Action will be taken on all threads within 7 days of submission. If a thread is accepted then it will appear in this Subforum. If a thread is rejected the theorist will receive a PM from me that states the reason(s) for rejecting it.

Threads in this Subforum will not exceed 60 posts. I will take care to delete responses which are not relevant to the topic.

If rejected, theorists will be granted one opportunity to address the stated reasons for rejection, and to resubmit. Threads submitted to this Subforum that are not substantially different from previously terminated threads (after the 3 page limit) or threads that have been rejected twice will not be considered.
We welcome your questions and feedback.

Tom
 
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Answers and Replies

Math Is Hard
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Does this mean that the old TD subforum will completely go away?
 
Tom Mattson
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The current TD subforum will be locked and moved out of the Physics area, but it will still be readable.
 
Moonbear
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I think this is a great solution to the issues we've been addressing. Just one question; how will science advisors either be chosen or given the opportunity to view such posts prior to their approval in order to discuss whether they meet the guidelines? Will they have the ability to view the queued submissions, or will they be invited to view certain ones deemed to be within their area of expertise? Or does science advisor in this context refer to something different from these little medals we have over on the left here?

Well, I guess that was more than just one question, but pretty much all just trying to clarify the same thing.
 
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Moonbear said:
Just one question; how will science advisors either be chosen or given the opportunity to view such posts prior to their approval in order to discuss whether they meet the guidelines?
All Science Advisors, along with the Staff, will be able to view and post to the screening forum. The only exceptions will be those threads that are submitted by either Science Advisors or Staff Members. In those cases the author will refrain from the discussion, despite their status.

Or does science advisor in this context refer to something different from these little medals we have over on the left here?
I am indeed talking about Science Advisor Medalists, but none of you will be under any obligation to participate.
 
Moonbear
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Tom Mattson said:
All Science Advisors, along with the Staff, will be able to view and post to the screening forum. The only exceptions will be those threads that are submitted by either Science Advisors or Staff Members. In those cases the author will refrain from the discussion, despite their status.
So it will be sort of like a study section review, where those reviewing a topic will be known to each other and able to openly discuss concerns or support for a topic, but then once a decision is made, the summary or consensus decision will be presented anonymously to the poster? If so, that sounds reasonable.
 
Tom Mattson
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Yes, that's right. I will be identified as the Forum Leader, and I will deliver all rejections. I will only indicate the reasons for rejection, not who said what.

The only instances in which there won't be anonymity is in those cases in which a Staff Member or Science Advisor submits a thread for consideration, because he or she will have access to the screening forum.
 
PerennialII
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A solution worthy of applauds ... preserving the 'out of the box' creativity and providing a clearly defined venue for it, all the while sustaining and strengthening the integrity of PF .... :!!) .
 
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I think this is a great initiative and i believe lots of new people will be attracted or repelled by the way real science actually works. This initiative will certainly illustrate that.

regards
marlon
 
jtbell
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It will be interesting to see how many people actually submit threads for this new forum, and how many of them are accepted!
 
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Tom said:
7. If a new theory is strongly inconsistent with prior experiments, but the theorist is insisting that the experiments were either misconducted or misinterpreted by the scientific community, then the thread will be rejected. Instead the theorist should rebut the contradicting scientists in an appropriate journal.
I don't know. What would you do with my mainstrean conflict example here. When digging into the strenghts and weakenesses of the both, you may stumble upon big surprises ending up
with rock solid evidence -clear to everybody- that the political popular "main" mainstream appears to be flawed whilst the little mainstream looks to be right. Not something you get sold to proper paper easily.
 
ZapperZ
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Andre said:
I don't know. What would you do with my mainstrean conflict example here. When digging into the strenghts and weakenesses of the both, you may stumble upon big surprises ending up
with rock solid evidence -clear to everybody- that the political popular "main" mainstream appears to be flawed whilst the little mainstream looks to be right. Not something you get sold to proper paper easily.
I didn't comment on this before, but since you brought up your postings once more, here goes.

There is this "myth", or maybe a fallacy, that ALL stuff published in peer-reviewed journals all follow one line of thought. This is absolutely FALSE. Case in point: the origin of the pairing symmetry and "kink" in the ARPES spectra along the nodal direction of high-Tc cuprate. You have 2/3 of the community pointing it to the magnetic/spin fluctuation origin, while the remaining 1/3 pointing to phonons. BOTH sides are getting their papers published, both experimental and theoretical! Not only that, there are splinter groups also publishing other models.

There is very seldom "rock solid evidence" at the research front, and ESPECIALLY in fields that tend to have lower degree of certainty in terms of experimental evidence. I would be very skeptical at claims that (i) you have a "homerun" theory in such a field of study and (ii) that such "non-mainstream" idea with that kind of certainty to be "correct" is not publishable based on what I have mentioned above. I don't see how "debating" it on PF would contribute to the body of knowledge.

Zz.
 
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Concurring with the rock solid part, the jury remains out of course.But the example is at the lower end of the complexity of science, no longer interesting for the cutting edge seekers, done deals. Not to be discussed again. However, was to path getting along there too narrow? Were the conclusions too quick and too dirty? Have new devellopments been looked at? So if you happen to walk the same path years later, something that cutting edge guys usually don't do, but being able to see much more to the left and the right now, would you want to discuss that?

[Drat! I accidentally edited your posting. I have tried to restore it to its original version, sorry - Zz]
 
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ZapperZ
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Andre said:
Concurring with the rock solid part, the jury remains out of course.
Then I criticize you for making such statements in the first place. The impression left by such things cannot be left alone, which is why I intruded into this in the first place. You are giving the impression that science IGNORES "rock solid" evidence just for the sake of maintaining the status quo. Nothing could be further than the truth here.

But the example is at the lower end of the complexity of science, no longer interesting for the cutting edge seekers, done deals. Not to be discussed again. However, was to path getting along there too narrow? Were the conclusions too quick and too dirty? Have new devellopments been looked at? So if you happen to walk the same path years later, something that cutting edge guys usually don't do, but being able to see much more to the left and the right now, would you want to discuss that?
I again would point out the SAME situation developing in condensed matter physics that is causing us to look again at the BCS theory and to what extent it is valid. The BCS theory is one of, if not THE, most tested and verified theory in existence. Yet, it doesn't stop us from re-examining to what extent it will work based on "rock solid" emperical evidence from high-Tc superconductors.

So I do not buy this apparent scenario that we do not go back and retrace our steps when the occassion warrants such a thing. Nothing is sacred in physics.

Zz.
 
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You are giving the impression that science IGNORES "rock solid" evidence just for the sake of maintaining the status quo. Nothing could be further than the truth here.
Most probably true in the hard physics branches. But I know better for the Earth/climate related branches. Perhaps you have not followed the hockeystick debate in climate science which is a long story of selective data mining and ignoring evidence. The biggest evidence that is categorically ignored for instance is the Mammoth steppe controversy.

Then I criticize you for making such statements in the first place.
Then I withdraw my concurrence. We were talking about falsifying. I believe that circumstancial evidence can never proof a soft earth/climate hypothesis to be right but it can falsify it. That's the rock solid part, equivalent to rock solid evidence that the Earth isn't flat. That was what I was talking about. If we accept that the two papers are in conflict then one is probably more right than the other. We can find out which one by looking at all the evidence, including mammoths.

Edit: now, before continuing the discussion it may be advisable to take note of this thread and this one. It would help explaining what my point is.
 
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ZapperZ
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Andre said:
Most probably true in the hard physics branches. But I know better for the Earth/climate related branches. Perhaps you have not followed the hockeystick debate in climate science which is a long story of selective data mining and ignoring evidence. The biggest evidence that is categorically ignored for instance is the Mammoth steppe controversy.
Then may I suggest that you confine your criticism to, and make it explicitly clear of, the area of science you are dealing with? Like I said, I would not have jumped into this in the first place till the overall impression left upon science in general is being smeared. As someone who is a part of it, and works in it, I simply could not let something like this slip by that implicates me indirectly.

Zz.
 
Tom Mattson
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Andre said:
I think reasonable path would be the following. If you are discussing work that appears in journals or textbooks, whether to agree or disagree with it, it should go in the Earth forum for discussion. But if you are presenting your own positive claims, then it should go to the new forum when it opens.
 
Moonbear
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Tom Mattson said:
I think reasonable path would be the following. If you are discussing work that appears in journals or textbooks, whether to agree or disagree with it, it should go in the Earth forum for discussion. But if you are presenting your own positive claims, then it should go to the new forum when it opens.
There can certainly be controversial topics for which neither view is outside the mainstream. If you're discussing something that has proponents on two different sides of the issue in the published literature (sometimes journals even manage to get publications submitted close enough to one another that they can print them back-to-back in the same issue to really highlight the controversy; or they invite certain authors to write articles to accomplish this), then there is no reason that discussion of the two (or more) commonly held explanations can't be discussed in the open forums. If someone isn't sure about such a topic and submits it to the "Outside the Mainstream" forum, then I see no reason such a topic couldn't be promptly moved out to another appropriate forum for discussion.

If, however, you are saying the mainstream literature has mostly reached a consensus on a topic, but you don't agree for X, Y, Z reasons and instead think you have a better explanation/theory, that should go in the "Outside the Mainstream" (OTM) forum. But, if one of those reasons you don't agree is that you think the published literature, particularly key studies forming the basis of the other theory, is flawed in its methodology, that's when we're saying take it to the journals (if you identify flawed methodology in a published work, the appropriate action is to write a letter to the editor of the journal that published it identifying the problems and letting them handle it either by contacting the authors for further clarification and publication of erratum as necessary, publishing your letter that raises the issues, or formally retracting the article) rather than here; that's because the editors and authors need to be given the opportunity to respond when flaws are suspected in their work. And if you can't or refuse to offer support for your own theory, then we will reject it from further discussion.
 
Gokul43201
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Hmmm...reading that post, I feel the new forum should just be called TD, after all. Really, it is just a place where members can go to, if they wish to "publish" their original research on PF. How does it matter whether or not it is "mainstream" ? Is any other part of PF appropriate for discussing original theories ? I think not.
 
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You are right, Gokul

Yeah, just let TD for what it is...I mean, we should also not expect too much of PF. Most of the members are not your average PhD students, professors or professional researchers. Lot's of members are still high school students with a new-grown interest for science. It is perfectly normal they wanna 'publish' their ideas and it is up to us to tell where they are wrong or why a certain way of thinking is not conform the way science works and progresses.

I really think all this whinning about TD, which was started by one specific member btw, is a pure manifestation of ego-centrism and bad judging . If a person has a problem with it, then just do not visit this thread. Also, the stupid and superfluous suggestion to rename TD is really useless. I wonder why we all care about what one member is whinning about the last few months.

Do not change something that works perfectly fine.
If it ain't broken, don't fix it...

regards
marlon
 
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Gokul43201
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Marlon, I think you misunderstand me. I was merely suggesting that the name of the new forum remain "Theory Development" and that it's scope not be limited to ideas "outside the mainstream". I do not want the current policy with TD to continue. It wastes too much time and detracts from the purpose of the forum, to discuss science and help in its understanding.

One useful thing that will come out of the new forum, IMO, is that the weak "theories" will be shot down all too easily and the efforts of trained theorists will face no real challenge, due to the lack of expertise needed to provide such a review.
 
Tom Mattson
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Gokul43201 said:
Hmmm...reading that post, I feel the new forum should just be called TD, after all.
That's exactly what I would call it, if the reputation of Theory Development weren't so irreparably damaged. TD has been the looney bin for almost 4 years, and everyone knows it. I want the new forum to be respectable, and a place where people want to have their threads.

Really, it is just a place where members can go to, if they wish to "publish" their original research on PF. How does it matter whether or not it is "mainstream" ? Is any other part of PF appropriate for discussing original theories ? I think not.
We definitely want to keep the independent research out of the main section of PF. We also don't want any particular independent theory hanging around forever here without peer review, hence the 3 page limit on threads.

marlon said:
Yeah, just let TD for what it is
No, No, and a thousand times No!

We don't want the TD Forum to grow any more. The whole idea here is to take the next step up and eliminate that sort of thing altogether. That's why we are graduating from moving the low quality posts to TD, to deleting them altogether, with an invitation to try again on a more professional level.

I really think all this whinning about TD, which was started by one specific member btw,
No, it wasn't. We've been dealing with this since the beginning.
 
Tom Mattson
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Oh, and one other thing.

marlon said:
Also, the stupid and superfluous suggestion to rename TD is really useless.
The suggestion was mine. If you have a problem with it, you can take it up with me, but you'll have to state your reasons.
 
Moonbear
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Yes, if the old TD forum hadn't gotten such a hideous reputation, TD would have been a preferable name for this new forum. What you have described, including the expectation of greater rigor in presenting new ideas, really is more true to what theory development involves.

Now that Gokul has mentioned it, I am a little concerned the name "Outside the Mainstream" may not be the best name for the new forum. While on one hand it is good to be clear that something is not mainstream, on the other hand, well, it's sort of an awkward sounding name. But, with TD off-limits as a title, I'm not sure what to suggest as an alternative other than "New and Improved Theory Development." :biggrin:

Maybe some brainstorming on the best title for the new forum would produce a better idea.
 
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marlon said:
You are right, Gokul

Yeah, just let TD for what it is...I mean, we should also not expect too much of PF. Most of the members are not your average PhD students, professors or professional researchers. Lot's of members are still high school students with a new-grown interest for science. It is perfectly normal they wanna 'publish' their ideas and it is up to us to tell where they are wrong or why a certain way of thinking is not conform the way science works and progresses.

I really think all this whinning about TD, which was started by one specific member btw, is a pure manifestation of ego-centrism and bad judging . If a person has a problem with it, then just do not visit this thread. Also, the stupid and superfluous suggestion to rename TD is really useless. I wonder why we all care about what one member is whinning about the last few months.

Do not change something that works perfectly fine.
If it ain't broken, don't fix it...

regards
marlon

Why do you bother, Marlon ? I mean do you really read and care about the posts in there ? I don't think so. You have more important issues right now (in your life), than worrying about a thread/(sub)forum on PF. I don't understand this attitude. You're not among the staff members, so you needn't worry about the amount of garbage from TD. Then what is it ?

Are you inteding to use, or actually were you intending to use TD to post your ideas, your theories, your own research and thus renaming and redisigning the (sub)forum would have altered your plans? I hope and i'm almost convinced that you'll try to publish your result in peer reviwed journals (or maybe on arxiv/slac spires), so i don't really see any answer to give when asked: WHY BOTHER/CARE ? :surprised

And don't use resounding words like "the stupid and superfluous suggestion to rename TD is really useless", because you just managed to offend someone, namely Tom Mattson in this case. :rolleyes:

Daniel.
 

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