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Why no speculations allowed?

  1. Aug 7, 2009 #1
    Most of the great minds in history have outrageously speculated and then found their great idea among the mass that they rejected.Why cannot what works for them work on a lesser scale work for us? I'm sure that some layman before Wegener noticed that the continents can fit together . If a great mind had listened and applied his greater knowledge to that information, perhaps continental drift could have been discovered years before it became a legitimate theory. Perhaps the ban on speculation is because of the fear that too much space will be devoted to speculations. But how much time does it take to scroll down to the next thread and ignore what may be a silly speculation? Also, I have found that allowing speculations in class actually facilitates learning.* Those classes that foster a belief that a student should only accept knowledge given by the instructor usually end up with students believing that science is boring. How can sitting at a desk writing down notes from a lecture facilitate real involvement with the learning process?
    * I am thrilled when a student 'contradicts" me and politely asks," but if that is so, then why this data?" or even," perhaps this is an alternative explanation." I do not take his/her comments as saying that I do not have a grasp of my subject.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2009 #2
    The key to this, I think, is whether the speculator has any credibility. When Wheeler speculated on relativity, folks knew he was worth listening to, even if he was off-track. If Harry J. Dingledorf, plumbing contractor from Des Moines, speculates on relativity, the odds are about a billion-to-one that he has no clue. I personally don't have the time or energy to suffer such folks.

    You're correct that authoritative teaching is often boring. I believe it was Faraday who said something to the effect that worthwhile learning is not fun; fun learning is not worthwhile. Planck's lectures are incredibly dry in print; I suspect they must have been sleep-inducing in person. Yet, I would attend one in a New York minute. We just have to decide whether we want to learn or be entertained.
  4. Aug 7, 2009 #3
    It has nothing to do with learning and all to do with adequate policing. PF has been around 8 years and just about half of those years we had an active forum for speculation. In the end we found we were overrun by crackpots (not simply curious people). To the point where it became a detriment to the forum due to misinformation. Trust us, we've been here awhile and we know what works. Unfortunately the kind of honest speculation you speak of is very rare on the internet. Thus we formed the policy. Simple as that.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2009
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