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Why does Physics attract crackpots?

  1. Mar 16, 2009 #1
    Or maybe Science in general? I will casually watch some Youtube videos on some Physics topics and the comments just amaze me. Everyone has their own theory on that topic, whether it makes sense or not.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2009 #2


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    Physics should be an exception?

    You find people offering half-baked opinions on just about every subject. Legal issues, tax issues (why income tax is unconstitutional, for example), pyschology, religion. You name it, someone will toss in their opinion whether they're qualified or not.

    Mmmmm, but I have to admit, I don't really have any qualifications in sociology or psychology, so this post is kind of an uneducated guess.
  4. Mar 16, 2009 #3
    My guess is that they are mainly trying to emulate the eccentric genius archetype but without all the required information, giving rise to a lot of half-baked ideas full of logical holes.


    As the guy above me posted, you do see crackpots everywhere. I've come to the conclusion that if you define insanity as the inability to correctly perceive reality, then a very significant percentage (if not all) of the human race is insane, but to varying degrees.

    The only thing you can do is make yourself aware of these biases:

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  5. Mar 16, 2009 #4
    I think Mathematics is the only field of study that is immune to attacks. Why? may be because mathematics works only on absolute proofs.

    I think Biology and cosmology are the worst affected ones.
  6. Mar 16, 2009 #5


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    Some people are attracted to notoriety, and certainly the media loves to promote the flamboyant and ostentatious - look at the magazines like US and People, and the tabloid press.

    Most professionals I know work quietly and persistently out of the spotlight.
  7. Mar 16, 2009 #6
    Why does pure substances attract impurities?

    So that we can make distinction.
  8. Mar 16, 2009 #7


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    I think it's because so many people are scared to death of math - especially most of your physics crackpots.
  9. Mar 16, 2009 #8
    I think this woman is onto something about the metallic oxide salts in our water supply.

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  10. Mar 16, 2009 #9
    I dont think it was metallic oxides I think it was the rainbow fairies being mischievous again.I heard the sirens so the police were on their way to arrest them.
  11. Mar 16, 2009 #10
    Hahaha. Thanks for that video.
  12. Mar 16, 2009 #11


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    Maybe it's got something to do with how easy concepts are to grasp, test and disprove. Once someone with no physics background has a rediculous physics-related idea, it'll take some time before they could even begin to understand what's wrong with it. A similarly rediculous idea in a field such as cookery and they'd most likely have the sh**s for a week and never try anything so stupid again.
  13. Mar 16, 2009 #12
    They were most likely sent by the Illuminati using HAARP to use the secret alien time travel devices hidden in our minds to go back and conceal evidence of the 9/11 cover-up so oil companies can keep hiding their over unity devices from us and control the Astral plane.
  14. Mar 16, 2009 #13
    That is why I love mathematics.

    I think physics attracts crackpots because quantum mechanics has become a global phenomena. Everyone "knows" it and everyone thinks they can come up with some nutjob theory that will be accepted.
  15. Mar 16, 2009 #14
    I work for a guy who reads the Introductory sections of text books and never reads any furthur and then claims to be an expert because he can regurgitate the introductory information. Drives me nuts.
  16. Mar 16, 2009 #15
    Why does Physics attract crackpots?

    I don't know about the rest, but I'm here for the open snack bar.
  17. Mar 16, 2009 #16


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    Maybe it's not physics that is the attraction to crackpots?

    Maybe it's ignorance that tends to have an affinity for crackpots, and physics just offers a richer opportunity for expression of ignorance, because it reaches into so many areas of experience? More nests for them to hatch from so to speak.
  18. Mar 16, 2009 #17


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    :rofl: Getting a headstart on the funniest PF member this year.
  19. Mar 16, 2009 #18


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    There's another aspect to this, and as someone who has been on the internet since 1987 (oy vey, I just dated myself) and saw the garbage that got posted on Usenet, I've seen my share of crackpottery. I think that it is easier to spot a crackpot in science, and in physics/chemistry/math in particular. Most of the time, these crackpot use rather strange notation and language, they mix and match terms but in very weird form, and they often make simple, basic mistakes. So for many of us who know the field, and even for many students who have had elementary introduction to physics, we can spot them from a mile away.

    It is more difficult to spot crackpots in other fields, such as politics, economics, social sciences, etc. I would classify Rush Limbaugh as a crackpot, because he has spewed a lot of misinformation based on very little knowledge of what he's talking about. That essentially is a general definition of a crackpot. Yet, no one calls it that, and no one realizes that. The nature of the subject matter that he deals with prevents the obvious and direct check of what he's talking about, and many of these are based simply on a matter of opinion, regardless on whether that opinion is valid or not, or based on valid information. He doesn't publish in academic journals and may, in fact, show a distaste for such a thing (another typical crackpot characteristics).

    So yes, other fields are inundated by crackpots as well. It is just that they can be spotted very clearly in physics, whereas in other areas, they become TV personalities.

  20. Mar 16, 2009 #19
    Sadly no, there's a cottage industry in trisecting the general angle. And proving the 5th postulate.
  21. Mar 16, 2009 #20
    Crack-pottery has more to do with a belief system than critical thinking. I know some exceptionally smart people that succumb to this flaw. They would pounce on you with an utter disgust, and demand their right to free opinion. So be it.

    Belief is so strong in something that it tends to filter out any external stimuli that would contradict it, and if necessary, compels the individual to seek out what's supporting it.

    Millions of years of human evolution does not guarantee that beliefs are to be rational. In many cases they are irrational states of the mind.
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