PF Needs A Personal Theory Forum Like We Need A Computer Virus

Author: ZapperZ
Originally posted on Apr17-13

During my participation on PF (which has been quite a number of years already), I've seen a couple of incarnations of this particular forum. It was called "Theory Development" when I first joined. Then, it became "Independent Research" forum. Whatever it is called, it was one way PF is trying to do two things:

1. to provide a forum for someone to present/work out his/her own personal theory and ideas, and

2. to prevent such a topic from being in the main forums where legitimate/established physics are discussed.

The TD forum was nothing more than where crackpots were allowed to "flourish". Unfortunately, it provided a severe blemish to the central mission of PF, which is to discuss legitimate science and not having to continually deal with trying to educate people who think they've solve the mysteries of the universe, but can't work their way out of a paper bag. Not only that, crackpots, and crackpottery, tend to attract more crackpots and crackpottery. It was something that was getting way out of hand.

It was then decided that TD had to go, and in the spirit of still providing a legitimate avenue for someone who wants to work out his/her own ideas, the IR forum was created with a set of rules that must be satisfied for a submission to be accepted. While an acceptance doesn't imply a stamp of approval from PF, it also means that what is being discussed is clear enough (i.e. it is not even wrong) and it isn't an obvious crackpottery.

We get complaints in our Feedback forum frequently from people (crackpots?) complaining about the IR forum, and about our policy of not allowing speculative, personal posts in our main forum. The most common reasons given to counter our policy is that the history of physics has given examples such as Galileo and Einstein, whose ideas were first rejected by the scientific community. Thus, new ideas should be allowed since, who knows where that would lead to.

Often, people who bring up this point lose sight of one very important thing. Galileo and Einstein challenged the established science NOT BASED ON IGNORANCE of the subject matter. Galileo and Einstein had proper knowledge of what they were doing. Einstein, especially, had a degree in physics. In fact, for them to do what they did, they had to know their subject areas in intimate details. Einstein had to know classical E&M extremely well to be aware of the problem of the non-covariant of Maxwell equations under Galilean transformation.

Unfortunately, most crackpots can't boast the same level of knowledge of the subject matter that they seem to think they know. So to compare them with these giants in physics is especially bogus. Besides, Galileo and Einstein didn't go to the public to "sell" their ideas. They published it for experts in their fields. So if these crackpots want to follow in those giants' footsteps, they shouldn't be advertising their ideas on a public forum, but instead, send them in to the various journals!

In other words, the often-used comparison is utterly invalid.

But what about "amateur" physicists, someone who do not have a formal education, and working on his/her own to come up with something? Should we give them a place to work out their ideas, such as the IR forum? The worthiness of such a place is still debatable. The common argument, again, is that we just can't tell if something is going to mean anything if we don't give it a chance.

Well, let's look at it closely. In business, we often hear of someone who didn't go to business school, didn't have much of a formal education, or a school dropout, and yet, become highly successful in his/her own enterprise. While it isn't very common, it is also not highly unusual. So yes, one CAN become financially successful without formal education and training in business/financial sector.

So is that a valid situation for the same argument in physics? I would say no. During the last 50 years, let's say, how many "amateurs" have made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in physics? Think about it. We're not talking just a small number here, we're talking about either a negligible number, or a non-existent quantity! In other words, a forum to cater to these people implies that we are providing an avenue for people to do something that doesn't occur. That is like keeping a broken vase, rather than throwing it out, with the hope that it will reassemble into its original self! Sure, the phase space for that happening isn't zero, but I'll be darn if it has happened before! There is a difference between "optimism" and "delusional", and you can guess which one I am categorizing this one.

My view on this is that, there has been ZERO convincing justification given why we have to cater to such things. The TD/IR forum that we have, have produced nothing. Is it educational? Is it a "learning" experience"? I don't see it. People who want such forums, or to be able to express their own personal ideas have not given a single convincing argument why they should be allowed to do such a thing on here.

Author: ZapperZ
Originally posted on Apr17-13
Not sure if I'm replying in the right place but I understand what a lot of these people don't like is that you "delete their ideas". Yes it is their own fault for not following the rules but might I suggest copying what they had written and sending it to them so that their idea isn't simply deleted, so they have a chance to take it elsewhere rather than it just ending? I mean they should know their own theories but I have been in the awful situation of typing something out so perfectly and then it didn't post or the internet broke or something and having to retype what I had said - I know the gyst of what I was saying but I am never as pleased the second time with the way it sounds.


might I suggest copying what they had written and sending it to them so that their idea isn't simply deleted, so they have a chance to take it elsewhere rather than it just ending?
If your post was removed and you want a copy of it back.... All you have to do is ask.

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