How would you go about teaching relativity to someone who refuses to take anything on faith or argument from authority? That is, to someone to whom you must actually prove experimentally each postulate or aspect of the theory? This hypothetical student is interested in learning. They just don't want to have to believe anything without fully understanding how it was derived from experiment. They are willing to take the reality of the experiments themselves on faith. If the experiment was actually documented in some way that is enough to prove that the experiment actually took place. You aren't dealing with someone for instance who doubts the moon landings because he wasn't actually there himself. I'm thinking the best method is simply to thoroughly investigate and understand every experiment conducted and based on the experimental evidence derive what you can through deductive logic. So in that vein, what are the most convincing experiments conducted, particularly regarding the most non-intuitive aspects of the theory? Does anyone have any links or book references on such experiments? Is relativity ever taught this way? From the perspective of a strict experimentalist deriving all theory strictly from the experiments that demonstrate it? Are there any experiments that are simple enough to replicate oneself as a demonstration? Building a cyclotron or a relativistic spaceship are not options. The most useful experiments I think would be ones that demonstrate/prove the physical reality of space-time and/or Minkowski 4-space and the massless nature of light despite the fact that its path is affected by the proximity of massive objects. Remember you're dealing with a skeptic. You'd have to start with observational/experimental evidence of some kind. They aren't just going to accept for instance the assertion that massive objects change the path of light because massive objects curve space into a fourth temporal or spatio-temporal dimension. First you would have to actually prove the existence of and then the curvature of space-time. And even then you'd have to show evidence for the force that causes objects and/or light to follow those paths. For instance without gravity a ball does not roll down a hill even though the hill is there. Some kind of an external force (or acceleration) is needed. Assumptions: 1) The student genuinely wants to learn. 2) The teacher genuinely wants to teach and is not annoyed/angered by the lack of faith. 3) Everything you teach, every step, must be proven as rigorously as a mathematical proof. The chain of logic has to be tight. The evidence has to be unequivocal. I do realize that teaching such a student in such a manner would take longer and be more difficult than teaching one who just accepts whatever he is told without question. OTOH, perhaps that student would have a deeper understanding of the theory in the end because of his familiarity with the physical experiments from which the theory was derived. I guess it's sort of like teaching Calculus by starting with the problems Newton was trying to solve. That has always seemed to me to be a rigorous and effective way to teach, despite the fact that it takes longer. Also for teaching in this manner, would it be better to start with the math and then do the theory or start with the theory and then do the math? Or should it matter? I think the equations themselves are pretty easy to prove. All you have to show in that case is that the equations work, that they make working useful predictions. The quantitative aspects are no problem. I'd be mostly concerned about proving the qualitative aspects of the theories.