Strict forum rules vs learning science

In summary, John Nash discusses in the movie "A Beautiful Mind" how he came to believe that the only true logic can be found in the relationships of love. This is a general discussion of the rules of this forum and their purpose. The thread is about whether strictly and always applying the forum rules allow for the whole picture of exact science. For every one of the rules there is a good scientific reason, the question is not about the quality of the rules but rather about the 'fruits' of applying them strictly. The opinion of the poster is that applying these rules too strictly gives a restricted view of the reality of exact laws and phenomena. The moderator's job is to keep the signal-to-noise ratio
  • #1
Maarten Havinga
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This thread is about whether strictly and always applying the forum rules allow for the whole picture of exact science. For every one of the rules there is a good scientific reason, the question is not about the quality of the rules but rather about the 'fruits' of applying them strictly.

I start this thread after moderators deleted my status update that gave a religiously tinted direction for renewal in science: to preserve what God says, which in exact science would mean firstly to nurture and cherish the lessons and related beliefs we have received from past great scientists such as Newton, Kepler and Einstein etc. It's up to you to judge whether that's too strict or not, though I admit I did not include the explanation in my status update. Secondly it would mean exploring creationist ideas, though that is with reason a more dubious affair.

As a MSc Mathematics that had to stop my university career afterwards - due to not high enough grades for a PhD (I had 2 studies, the 2nd in music) - I've noticed that in the modern scientific community the higher you come, the more you are supposed to know and respect certain results but also opinions - on the penalty of being respected less and other kinds of losing your influence. Thus it becomes for some part an ivory tower, unable to view itself from the outside and notice it if a part of the structure is built lop-sided.

The forum rules prohibit the discussion of original ideas outside literature and personal speculation. This means we may only explain and ask about the ivory tower's views. My opinion is therefore that applying these rules too strictly gives a restricted view of the reality of exact laws and phenomena. There are people outside academica having great original ideas, well balanced opinions and other valuable information about science or the scientific community. Of course we need to be able to refer to the rules for less qualitative opinions etc., but the exception strengthens the rule.

I want to defend this opinion with the speech of John Nash when he got his Nobel Prize, as pictured in the movie "A beautiful mind". He contemplates there that he has always believed in the cold logic of numbers. But after the diagnosis of schizophrenia, he had time and reason to ask "what truly is logic?" (viewing the ivory tower from outside). He had to conclude that the only true logic can be found in the relationships of love.

Translating exact science as science using logic much, this means we miss a part of it if we only allow - strictly defending the rules - for discussing literature. For the true logic has ways beyond that literature, beyond the scientific community's definition of what is logic. Thus I argue that always strictly adhering to the rules can get in the way of getting the right picture of the current state of exact science, for which end the rules were made.

To be clear: I do not advocate modification of the rules, I advocate less quickly jumping to enforcement of the rules.
 
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  • #2
Maarten Havinga said:
My opinion is therefore that applying these rules too strictly gives a restricted view of the reality of exact laws and phenomena.

That restricted view is completely consistent with the purpose of this forum, which is restricted to science as it is generally understood and practiced by professionals in the field.
 
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  • #3
I saw your status update and had no issue with it. It would have been problematic in a technical thread. The goal of the site is to promote science understanding, not perform science. The rules are in place to keep the signal-to-noise ratio high and to keep the moderators from being overwhelmed. Some things have to be sacrificed.

The moderators are not consistent. There are threads that are killed too early and some that go on way too long. There are users on a tight leash and others on a long one. There is not really a good way to prevent this from happening. You can always protest and get several moderators to look at the issue.

Back and forth messaging is a stilted way to communicate. My advice is not to take things personally. Things that could be handled in 30 seconds face-to-face can take a long period time with back-and-forth messaging. Recognize this and decide which fights are worth fighting. Be the bigger person and move on.

My biggest pet peeve is that people (me included) read posts too quickly and respond to what we think was said. My second is that people (me included) think that their two cents are worth a dollar. We all could be a little nicer.
 
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  • #4
Maarten Havinga said:
what God says
Whatever you think your particular "god" says or said, it is irrelevant to this forum.
 
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  • #5
Nugatory said:
That restricted view is completely consistent with the purpose of this forum, which is restricted to science as it is generally understood and practiced by professionals in the field.
What about autodidact professionals outside the community? It feels like you're "swearing by" the goodness and completeness of the professional scientific community! That's like bypassing the laws in order to support a nobel prize winner's faulty calculations. I don't like the wording you use for this forum's purpose, it should then be called "physics academia forums" and I wouldn't join.
 
  • #6
Maarten Havinga said:
What about autodidact professionals outside the community
Such as ramanujan?
 
  • #7
Maarten Havinga said:
What about autodidact professionals outside the community?
Maarten Havinga said:
Such as ramanujan?
PF does not check resumes. Autodidact implies that they have learned the language of science, so Ramanujan would be welcomed. There are a huge number of posts that ”refute” standard science without writing down a single equation or explaining experimental facts. A reader of a science popularization is not an autodidact professional. Just because one has a thought about science does not make it a scientific thought.
 
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  • #8
I like the way our member @phinds put it. He said that thinking out of the box is admirable, but first you must learn what is in the box. PF's mission is squarely behind helping people learn what is in the box. That is not the same thing as pushing the advancement of science. It is more limited and less ambitious than that.

Our mission is to provide a place for people (whether students, professional scientists, or others interested in science) to learn and discuss science as it is currently generally understood and practiced by the professional scientific community.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of other sites with broader missions and the advancement of the science state of the art. That should leave room for some sites like PF to have a more narrow focus.
 
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  • #9
Frabjous said:
Ramanujan would be welcomed
I'm not so sure. His most famous quote:
Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of GOD.
Which is his professional position on
@phinds Whatever you think "god" says or said, it is irrelevant to this forum.
Source: https://libquotes.com/srinivasa-ramanujan
 
  • #10
@Maarten Havinga you are doing what in the American military is called "pissing up a rope". The only effect you are having is on yourself. You are not going to change this forum.

If you actually want to learn science, this is a great forum, but if the PF rules are not suitable for you, I'm sure you can find some other forum that is more suitable.
 
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  • #11
Maarten Havinga said:
I'm not so sure. His most famous quote:

Which is his professional position on

Source: https://libquotes.com/srinivasa-ramanujan
You could be right, although his religious belief does not make him an autodidact. PF, for good or for ill, has made its rules. It is up to you if you want to be here. I believe that there are plenty of religious people who have chosen to do so and remain members.
 
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  • #12
Maarten Havinga said:
What about autodidact professionals outside the community?
I don't see the relevance. Are you talking about someone who is apparently advancing scientific knowledge, but that knowledge never becomes part of the scientific mainstream? In order for something to become "established", "the establishment" has to accept it. As a practical matter:

1. Scientific advancement outside the "establishment" is exceptionally rare...and basically always later becomes accepted by "the establishment" if valid. So it is a very small sacrifice to exclude it.

2. PF is not equipped to be an authority on what is real science. If an outside the mainstream person were allowed to "publish" on PF it would not help their work be recognized as real science.

3. We aren't here to help develop any new theories, mainstream or not.
 
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  • #13
Maarten Havinga said:
Such as ramanujan?
Who has been dead for more than a century.

Further, the number of people who think they are the next Ramanujan vastly exceeds the number who are.

Finally, he would be welcome here. He did not go around shouting that conventional mathematics is wrong.
 
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  • #14
Presumably, if the OP feels that their preference for how science fora should work is popular enough, they can create their own forum that it will rapidly achieve the same or greater popularity as PF.

That will be a win-win for all. The OP will have a popular site focused on their own wishes, and the rest of us, such as myself, can enjoy PF, with its "restricted" mission.

Ball's in your court, OP. :wink:
 
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  • #15
Maarten Havinga said:
To be clear: I do not advocate modification of the rules, I advocate less quickly jumping to enforcement of the rules.
Is that really clear? It sounds like you don't object to the rules, you object to their enforcement. That doesn't sound clear to me.
 
  • #16
DaveC426913 said:
Presumably, if the OP feels that their preference for how science fora should work is popular enough, they can create their own forum that it will rapidly achieve the same or greater popularity as PF.
Where have I wronged you? Since you basically say: your problem, fix it yourself in a way that costs I've no idea how much time, effort and money. My opinion is well reacted to by the moderators because it is a reasonable request for physics forums, I only want them to talk with rule breakers about why they broke the rule, add a warning, ask clarification. And then if that doesn't work or gives no reasonable answer, they can proceed enforcing the forum rules as before. Would you not agree that ignoring this plea is a loss for the sake of PF?
 
  • #17
russ_watters said:
1. Scientific advancement outside the "establishment" is exceptionally rare...and basically always later becomes accepted by "the establishment" if valid. So it is a very small sacrifice to exclude it.
It's OK with me that PF isn't there to help develop new theories, as it isn't equipped to be an authority on new real science, I understand.

But what I miss on PF is not just for myself, but what I see on several threads started also by others:
1. The space to try (and usually fail) to give and defend an original view on a thought experiment. People are told too quickly to give references or shut up. Sometimes even by non-moderators.
2. The space to discuss philosophically on established science. Philosophy is "off-limits", I was told, which is an overly restrictive interpretation of the rules. This means we cannot discuss our reasons for rejecting/pursuing certain frameworks that go beyond the standard models. We can only post an update on such a field, and of course the same people reject it and the same are interested in it as 5 years ago since their philosophies can't be discussed. The point is that this philosophic background is what makes scientists choose what they pursue, and by rejecting discussion of philosophy, we as science lovers cannot develop ourselves on that fundamental level.

I admit that there are some threads already that show there is some space for this, BTW, what I miss as described above is not extremely strong.
 
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  • #18
Maarten Havinga said:
2. The space to discuss philosophically on established science. Philosophy is "off-limits", I was told, which is an overly restrictive interpretation of the rules.
From the rules (https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/physics-forums-global-guidelines.414380/ )
Non-mainstream theories:
Generally, in the forums we do not allow the following:
  • <snip>
  • Philosophical discussions are permitted only at the discretion of the mentors and may be deleted or closed without warning or appeal

While not, strictly speaking, "off-limits," it should be obvious that such discussions are not encouraged. We tried having a section on philosophy years ago, but most of these threads turned into a mess, being very difficult to moderate. As an aside, I'm rereading "Surely you jest, Mr. Feynman," a book that I first read more than 20 years ago. He takes a very dim view of philosophy in general.
 
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  • #19
Maarten Havinga said:
The space to try (and usually fail) to give and defend an original view on a thought experiment. People are told too quickly to give references or shut up. Sometimes even by non-moderators.
That's because people (and by people, I mean OPs) tends to be confused whether something is a thought experiment or a pet/personal theory.
 
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  • #20
Maarten Havinga said:
The forum rules prohibit the discussion of original ideas outside literature and personal speculation. This means we may only explain and ask about the ivory tower's views.
What original ideas? This isn't the 17th or 18th century anymore. The low hanging fruit has been picked already. I've been here at PF for over a decade, including spending a number of years as a moderator. You don't see them, but there are a LOT of 'original ideas' posted here at PF that the moderators end up deleting. You know what nearly all of them have in common? They're all grossly wrong. Grossly wrong. Ideas that are unsupported by evidence, run counter to known experiments, use no math or only basic algebra (often wrongly), make grand statements about how science is wrong but they are right, idolize figures like Einstein or Tesla (yet fail to understand why those men were good at what they did), defend their broken and misguided ideas like they're fighting at the Somme, ignore sound recommendations and advice, and in general disregard anything that they don't understand or that disagrees with their 'original idea'.

Even then, I actually have seen a handful of posts about some new idea over the years that looked like they were promising topics posted by knowledge people. Do you know what happened to those? Nothing. Because no one else on PF knew enough about the topic to even begin to have a discussion. Most remain unanswered.

Here's the unfortunate fact that applies 99.9% of the time: If you are posting original ideas on PF then you don't know enough to be having original ideas. If you know enough to have an original idea then you aren't posting about it on PF.

It sucks, but more than a decade of experience has taught me this and it's something the staff as a whole learned during the first few years of PF's existence when philosophy and personal ideas were still allowed.

Maarten Havinga said:
There are people outside academica having great original ideas, well balanced opinions and other valuable information about science or the scientific community.
No there are not. For the simple fact that those outside of academia and professional sciences don't know enough to make a legitimate contribution or to even have a 'well balanced opinion'. 99% of complaints about PF are about how we don't allow non-mainstream views, yet NO ONE, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has ever been able to provide an actual example of anyone from 'outside' of professional sciences making a significant contribution to science.
 
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  • #21
Drakkith said:
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has ever been able to provide an actual example of anyone from 'outside' of professional sciences making a significant contribution to science.
There have been some big contributions like that but I can't think of any in the past one hundred years.
 
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  • #22
Drakkith said:
their 'original idea'.

And once or twice a year we get an 'original idea' that was proposed inn1690.
 
  • #23
Drakkith said:
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has ever been able to provide an actual example of anyone from 'outside' of professional sciences making a significant contribution to science.

Perhaps Thag Simmons?
thag-simmons-.png
 
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  • #24
Maarten Havinga said:
I only want them to talk with rule breakers about why they broke the rule, add a warning, ask clarification. And then if that doesn't work or gives no reasonable answer, they can proceed enforcing the forum rules as before.
I think that if you saw how much effort goes into Moderating PF, you would see that this already happens to a large extent. You just don't see all of the discussions the Mentors are having about problematic posts/threads/users. All you see is the end result or maybe a "Thread is closed for Moderation" followed some time later by the thread being reopened after some edits/deletions or tied off if the thread is going nowhere good.

PF users are great at reporting problematic posts and users (thank you all), and I think the Mentors take their tasks seriously and try to be fair and "Mentoring" in dealing with issues with users. Yes, the PF rules are pretty strict, but we do in fact start with warnings and PMs in an effort to help fix problems without the need for escalation. Many times (most of the time?) that woks fine. Sometimes it doesn't, and the system of infraction points comes into play. But it is very rare for a user to get a strong infraction on their first offense, unless it's pretty flaming or trolling in nature.
 
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  • #25
Maarten Havinga said:
I want to defend this opinion with the speech of John Nash when he got his Nobel Prize, as pictured in the movie "A beautiful mind". He contemplates there that he has always believed in the cold logic of numbers. But after the diagnosis of schizophrenia, he had time and reason to ask "what truly is logic?" (viewing the ivory tower from outside). He had to conclude that the only true logic can be found in the relationships of love.
I couldn't resist this. That speech is fictional; John Nash never gave an acceptance speech upon winning the Nobel, he wasn't even married to Alicia at the time. Here's what Nash actually had to say about his mental illness:
John Nash said:
And it did happen that when I had been long enough hospitalized that I would finally renounce my delusional hypotheses and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research. In these interludes of, as it were, enforced rationality, I did succeed in doing some respectable mathematical research.
(emphasis mine, citation here)
So Nash himself seems to support the exact opposite of what his character in the movie put forward. Of course, that speech was written by a screenwriter, and arguing the validity of a screenwriter's opinion of how science and math should be approached is probably not the wisest move.
 
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  • #26
Yeah, but...Jennifer Connelly.💘💘💘
 
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