When people appear to be getting very confused about the weird nature of black holes, I normally respond with answers based on standard black hole theory, but I sometimes feel I should also call attention to the point that some people now think that the "black hole" solutions to the Schwarzschild equations are quite possibly only the result of an incorrect assumption about the physical meaning of the radial coordinate. Unfortunately, this subject tends to raise such fierce argument that I usually try to forestall questions and provide references at the same time, and even then the result is often further questions, which tend to derail the original subject of the thread. I'm therefore starting a new thread, to act as a reference point and allow some discussion (as long as it can remain scientific). I think the best explanation of this situation (and least over-stated) is an article by Salvatore Antoci and Dierck-Ekkehard Liebscher "Reinstating Schwarzschild's Original Manifold and its Singularity", also available at arXiv:gr-qc/0406090. These ideas have been forcefully rebutted on-line in a thread "Flogging the Xprint" on sci.physics.research by "T. Essel", and also in a paper by Malcolm MacCallum at arXiv:gr-qc/0608033. However, although in both cases the "rebuttals" appear very authoritative, it appears to me personally that they are based on stating weak arguments very forcefully, which I don't find very convincing, and assuming that any fault with the opposing argument means that their own position is correct. I believe that basically the situation is that at present there's no physical theory which allows us to determine the location of the mass point in the Schwarzschild vacuum solution. Schwarzschild assumed it to be at his original r=0, equivalent to R=2GM in the Schwarzschild radial coordinate defined by the proper areas of spheres. Hilbert assumed it to be at R=0 because it seemed to be mathematically valid to do so. It was only a few years ago that Leonard S Abrams called attention to this difference of assumptions, which had apparently been ignored since Hilbert "corrected" Schwarzschild's original assumption. Some people have argued that since there are a lot of weird things in black hole theory, Schwarzschild's original assumption must have been correct. I'm inclined to sympathize with this point of view, but it's not a proof. On the other side, the people such as "T. Essel" who argue against them say that most of their arguments against Hilbert's assumption are invalid (which I'd probably agree with), and hence that Hilbert was right (which doesn't actually follow). As far as I can see, Antoci and Liebscher's article referenced above gives a more balanced view, giving the background and explaining how the difference arose, and showing that Schwarzschild's original solution does appear to be better in many ways. This situation could perhaps be resolved by experiment. There is some evidence in both directions, in that at least one super-massive black hole candidate appears to have a significant intrinsic magnetic field, which is not consistent with black hole theory, but objects which could according to black hole theory be near the borderline between neutron stars or black holes appear to show differences in X-ray emissions suggesting that there is some threshold being crossed (although Abhas Mitra has published papers saying that this threshold doesn't necessarily imply a black hole, but could be some other form of phase change or similar).