Why Won't You Look at My New Theory? - Comments

  • #151
The answer to this one is easy: nobody. A scientific theory should stand or fall based on whether its predictions match experiments. No "authority" except experiment deems it right or wrong.

The issue I see here is that you are confusing the truth I just stated with a different statement: that, since a theory stands or falls based on whether its predictions match experiments, any time anyone comes up with any idea they think is a "scientific theory", it should get tested by experiment. That's not possible. People have to make judgments about what ideas are or aren't worth developing and testing. The fact that you think you have a great new theory does not mean anyone else either will or should agree with you. And in fact the odds are very heavily against you: that's why I went to the trouble in the article of pointing out that the vast majority of situations are of type A, not type B. Furthermore, the vast majority of "theories" that people come up with are not scientific theories--they're just vague ideas that can't even be put into a form that could be tested anyway. As Pauli said, they're "not even wrong".
You asserted this: "I want to look at the more general question of why there is apparently so little interest in such personal theories,independently of whatever rules a particular forum might have." You were assuming something intrinsic in the thought processes of those proposing theories with the added assumption that the ones of concern are non-scientists. You also assume something about the audience since your thesis is worded to question why they aren't reading.

I'm not sure how we can be sure of what does actually get read if this is based on others responding. An 'agreeable' posting by someone may justify a non-response because it may provide sufficient closure to others that they find no need to respond. Adding anything may only be of compliment in such cases and is interpreted by many to be unnecessary, superfluous flattery or ass-kissing. So it is not just threads that get active updated responses that assure it is or is not being viewed by others in all cases. And also given that non-active threads get buried relatively fast, there is a short window of time from the last poster of which those who may potentially all agree don't respond for this reason and so loses the likelihood of even being noticed long enough to be certain the lack of activity assures it as being purposely ignored.

I'll have to be blunt here: no.[to asserting a political factor involved] Nobody's idea deserves respect just because they came up with it. The way to get respect for your idea is to do the hard work yourself of learning what is currently known, and being able to explain how your new idea provides something that is missing from what is currently known, and showing how your idea can be tested so we can see which way Nature votes. In other words, it's up to you, the person with the idea, to show that the situation your idea addresses is truly of type B, not type A. It's not up to anyone else to grant your idea respect just because you think it's a good one.
The problem I think occurs though is that once someone gains a 'trust' upon something they've proven true with popular supports, just as one inversely may prove 'unpopular', reputation is inappropriately granted the deciding factor of whatever one's particular ideas are universally fair in their description of their own theory. Darwin, for instance, doesn't "own" his theory as some intrinsic characteristic of himself. That is, while we might lend his name to his own theory to help us remember which of many ideas are which, Natural Selection is NOT a property of Charles Darwin. This is why I find it odd, for instance, that some should bother responding to those asserting Darwin dismissed his own theory on his deathbed by attempting to show that he did not. If Darwin became a notorious evil criminal, would this matter to the relevance of his theory? So to me, giving relevance to the persons presenting a theory with either a good or a bad reputation is as much about politics and not necessarily to the virtue of the author.

I agree thus that nobody deserves respect for coming up with some theory, if you include those who came with with valid ones as much as invalid ones. But I'm unsure if you are trying to justify some reason to dismiss those who put forward 'theories' online in forums? We are no longer in need of much concern today to screen or referee material for publication because that was only truly justified by the limits of it being practical for the costs involved in publishing through printed media. It is relatively becoming 'obsolete' given we now have the Internet and relatively cheap means to store data. So for those who even remotely feel they have a reason to contribute their ideas, they should do so, even if in error. Its politics if one thinks they should curb their enthusiasm in 'theorizing' for fear of appearing dumb or unpopular or just because they appear to be invisible. You are positively asserting that there IS NO INTEREST in non-scientists presenting 'theories' by audiences. I have now argued that you cannot determine this based upon activity and so wonder how you determine even this? And why should it matter?


I think you have an extremely narrow view of what "science" consists of. Newton and Einstein were scientists. Newton not only developed his theories, he ran his own experiments to test them; look up, for example, his experiments with optics. Einstein, while he was not an experimentalist himself, kept in very close touch with experimentalists as he developed his theories, so that he was up to date on the latest experimental results. Look up, for example, his work on the photoelectric effect or his work with Perrin on Brownian motion--these are good examples because they're less well known than his classic work on relativity, so they often get forgotten about when Einstein is mistakenly thought of as an ivory-tower theorist.
'Narrow' only points to my reference of a minimal description uncontested by ALL people....that science AT LEAST is agreed to involve the act of observation. What is not so clear is to the degree of philosophy and logic involved is or is not 'science'.

Take the issue of 'predictability' for instance. If I predict X to occur and it does, while it may lend potential weight to those who witnessed my prediction prior to observing as validating some theory of mine, no matter how popular my theory is or even to how others are able to 'replicate' some experiment I might use to base my novel theory on, this is not sufficient to justify my unique explanation as the correct one or in need of someone else to propose a novel experiment to dislodge my explanation for their own. Yet it is rare to see anyone allow alternative explanations for some theories because credibility is extended to the original author's explanation by default even if one has some potentially better alternative explanation without a concern to defeating the actual theory, the math, or to its observations involved. The set of institutions involved rely on maintaining the credibility of their own heroes and agree to this among other institutes by default. As such, there is a tendency to conserve the original author's explanation with a demand that others MUST originate a new experiment, not simply an alternative explanation of the same theory via some alternative perspective. This is just one example of why some would put forward some 'alternative' theory. But note that I don't think the significance is on whether one's mere statement or preference of some "alternate" view exists makes them equally valid. The logic still MUST fit appropriately given all things accepted in observation as well as to predictions. This is logical just as it is true we can have a multitude of different architectures to design the same kind of computer with equivalent goals and use different languages to program them. It might be relatively arbitrary to care when given two computers with identical qualities which one explanation deserves any improvement. But when contrasting computers, say, with biology, for instance, one might have a form of explanation that combines what each area may seem conflicting at first by merely inverting some perspective component factors of one of those theories in their respective fields. (I think this can be done with QM and Relativity, for instance)



If we actually adopted this policy in practice, we would be unable to have any kind of useful discussion of science. The extremely rare ideas that are worth considering would be drowned out by orders of magnitude by the noise of people who simply don't have enough understanding to have useful ideas, but who insist on being heard.
I agree to this in principle but see that some things with regards to living conscious things, like us people, tend to always find some means to still abuse any means when we use this rationale to justify some form of censure. Take the economics of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" for example and how his arguments for a laissez-faire system is rational. This is valid on considering its evolutionary logic. But in practice, the business entities involved in fact DO tend towards monopolies now even without overtly conspiring by becoming virtually 'true' conspiracies. If we thus hand the right of some governments to demand censure of non-economic-liberalism with the best of original intents, it still leads to the abuses by businesses. The same goes for the opposing philosophies.

I think that the political aspects of censuring through even strict demarcation of science as one thing and philosophy as another leads to these problems too. But to get back to your article, I'm uncertain what you are suggesting beyond some "why's" about those posting 'theories' unless you felt a need to justify resistance. I can see that some might complain they may not be given attention by absent responses. But I'm guessing the actual complaints likely come from those being censured in some way, not to whether they are being read or not. In fact I'm guessing they are getting some form of attention you may personally think is too much in forums. The trick is to let people speak and if they don't contribute anything of value, they'll eventually get bored and not bother when no one responds nor censures them. It is the insult of being trivialized should censoring becomes apparent or to dismiss them as morons that leads to as much a rational reflective response to aid in the increased 'theorists' where they may exist.

Note, btw, that even people who have taken the time to understand what is currently known only very rarely have new ideas that end up being worth considering. The difference is that someone who has taken the time can quickly see that most of their new ideas won't work, all by themselves, without having to demand anyone else's time and attention.

Science is universal knowledge because anyone can learn it--if they put in the time and effort. Someone who wants the respect without having put in the time and effort is, as Robert Heinlein once said, like someone who wants to be a concert pianist, but does not want to practice.
Agreed. But not enough respect is granted to some of those people who actually DO put the time and effort into self-education with a clear understanding of the issues but get dismissed for their different ways of trying to communicate or, more often, to not conforming to some authoritative standards and 'etiquette' that those that who often go through the formal systems don't realize they possess as what others may call, 'elitist'. Formal education is more often about one's wealth and other inherent factors unnoticed as trivial factors. Something as subtle as being given a first vehicle before one turns 18 by a parent, even a junker, can make an extreme difference that gets overlooked. Give people charity up front. In time you might even influence them by your apparent acceptance rather than ridicule.
 
  • #152
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I'm not sure how we can be sure of what does actually get read if this is based on others responding.
Others responding is a sign that they're interested. Others not responding is a sign that they're not. Obviously that's not the only factor involved, but I didn't claim in the article that it was.

I'm unsure if you are trying to justify some reason to dismiss those who put forward 'theories' online in forums?
I'm trying to explain why others are extremely likely not to be interested in theories put forward online in forums. I'm not sure how "justification" is relevant; everyone has to decide for themselves what they are interested in and how to spend their time.

We are no longer in need of much concern today to screen or referee material for publication because that was only truly justified by the limits of it being practical for the costs involved in publishing through printed media
I think you're mistaken about the primary reasons why papers are peer-reviewed before being published in most journals. The primary reason is that journals have reputations to maintain; publication is supposed to be a reliable indicator that the work is worth taking seriously. As for "publication" in the sense of posting on arxiv.org, that's different; no screening or refereeing is done for that, because, as you say, putting things up on the Internet is cheap. They do require some sort of institutional affiliation, though; but other sites such a vixra have sprung up to allow people to get around that as well.

for those who even remotely feel they have a reason to contribute their ideas, they should do so, even if in error.
If you can't get posted on one of the sites mentioned above, you can always put up your own website; that can be done for a few dollars a month. Then you can post whatever you want. The issue I was discussing in the article is not who is "allowed" to post; it is about the interest or lack thereof that others will have in what is posted.

You are positively asserting that there IS NO INTEREST in non-scientists presenting 'theories' by audiences.
Um, you do realize that in the article, I said explicitly that the assumption that only "professional scientists" can come up with valid theories is wrong, don't you? And that I also said explicitly that even scientists can't always be trusted to fairly represent science?

What I have said, though more in this discussion than in the article itself, is that, if the person presenting their theory, whether they are a scientist or not, has not put in the time and effort to understand what is already known, and to be able to explain, in the accepted standard language of the field in question, how their new theory does something that existing theories don't, then they aren't likely to get any interest from others. That's not because they're "not a scientist"; it's because they haven't put in the time and effort.

I have now argued that you cannot determine this based upon activity and so wonder how you determine even this?
For someone who is familiar with a field, it's pretty easy to tell even from a single post whether a person proposing a new theory in that field understands the field. Whether or not anyone else has responded to the post is irrelevant in making that determination.

a minimal description uncontested by ALL people....that science AT LEAST is agreed to involve the act of observation
And the act of constructing theories to explain observations. Does anyone really believe that theories aren't part of science?

it is rare to see anyone allow alternative explanations for some theories because credibility is extended to the original author's explanation by default
You really need to learn more about how science is actually done.

one might have a form of explanation that combines what each area may seem conflicting at first by merely inverting some perspective component factors of one of those theories in their respective fields. (I think this can be done with QM and Relativity, for instance)
I'm not sure what this means. But it raises an obvious question: how much time and effort have you put into learning about QM and relativity?

I'm uncertain what you are suggesting beyond some "why's" about those posting 'theories'
I'm suggesting that, as I said above and as I have said repeatedly in this thread, before even trying to figure out a new theory, much less post it for others to see, you should put in the time and effort to learn what is currently known. If you haven't, it will be obvious, and will almost certainly result in nobody taking any interest in your idea.

I'm guessing the actual complaints likely come from those being censured in some way
We do get complaints from people whose posts have received warnings for violating the PF rules on personal theories and acceptable sources, yes. But we also get complaints that we allow too many personal theory posts to clutter up the forums and obscure content that has value.

The trick is to let people speak and if they don't contribute anything of value, they'll eventually get bored and not bother when no one responds nor censures them.
The problem is that, even if nobody responds to them, their posts are still there, adding noise to the forums and making it harder for people to find content that has value. That's why we have established rules about what is acceptable, and why we actively discourage posts outside those rules. People can always find other forums, or, as I said above, they can post on their own websites. It's not as though PF is the only place where people can post their theories.

not enough respect is granted to some of those people who actually DO put the time and effort into self-education with a clear understanding of the issues but get dismissed for their different ways of trying to communicate or, more often, to not conforming to some authoritative standards and 'etiquette' that those that who often go through the formal systems don't realize they possess as what others may call, 'elitist'
Please give some specific examples. And be prepared to be disagreed with regarding whether the people in your examples really did have a "clear understanding of the issues".

Also, a general comment: much of your post is irrelevant to this discussion. PF can't solve problems with the formal education system or the scientific peer review system or the general attitude of society. Please try to focus on the specific points in the article, and on the specific venue of PF and its rules.
 
  • #153
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Why not start a sub forum for outsider science, anybody can dump err publish their theories to be poked err critiqued....
 
  • #154
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Why not start a sub forum for outsider science, anybody can dump err publish their theories to be poked err critiqued....
PF already tried this a number of years ago. It doesn't work. We attracted crackpots to this subforum who didn't want to listen to criticism and then spilled over into the rest of the forums, where they spread their nonsense.
 
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  • #155
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The intertube is full of places for theories, let the crack pots have most of it ...and leave this one corner for reality based science.
 
  • #156
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  • #157
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Before my time here, therefore it never happened....
 
  • #158
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Before my time here, therefore it never happened....
So using that logic, you don't think fire has been discovered either.

Zz.
 
  • #159
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Precisely .... thanks for validating my theory.
 
  • #160
Others responding is a sign that they're interested. Others not responding is a sign that they're not. Obviously that's not the only factor involved, but I didn't claim in the article that it was.
Thank you. I wasn't sure if you were interpreting it this way. I disagree. Non-response occurs as much when more people simply agree too. Depending on the topic some will agree but not bother positing accolades. This is often a personality trait of the optimist who might feel it necessary to assert agreement and are ones who might favor things like, 'likes', in social media circles. For many, they just prefer to respond to what appears disagreeable. It would be interesting to do a study on how people might respond but would equally be biased depending on whether those doing the study are optimist or realists too!


I'm trying to explain why others are extremely likely not to be interested in theories put forward online in forums. I'm not sure how "justification" is relevant; everyone has to decide for themselves what they are interested in and how to spend their time.
This isn't the case though. I mentioned how there is a natural tendency for businesses to voluntarily 'conspire' defeating Adam Smith's justification for allowing a hands off favoritism of businesses based on the assumption that their 'demand' (interest of consumers) is always equally empowered to decide what is worthy of interest. What actually occurs favors businesses to 'get with the program' and voluntarily opt in to methods that favor 'supply' side control. With relevance to this topic, people who have the power to operate forums, will tend to favor censoring, like one who owns a mall thinks they have a right to delimiting rules of their favor when presenting their business spaces as 'private' property even though they depend on 'public' access. As such, there IS less power of those supposed morons being assumed by innuendo who waste time attempting to publish their views in forums. It is also NOT true that people have ease of access and an equal competitive means to do things like start up their own blogs, gain interest to it, etc. Favor still will go to those with the power in some political sense.

I think you're mistaken about the primary reasons why papers are peer-reviewed before being published in most journals. The primary reason is that journals have reputations to maintain; publication is supposed to be a reliable indicator that the work is worth taking seriously. As for "publication" in the sense of posting on arxiv.org, that's different; no screening or refereeing is done for that, because, as you say, putting things up on the Internet is cheap. They do require some sort of institutional affiliation, though; but other sites such a vixra have sprung up to allow people to get around that as well.
"Reputation" is what matters and what arouses concern. And how is this valid except as an arbitrary practical consideration of what some set of people determine is politically worthy of attention based on popularity of those they personally favor over others for one reason or another?


If you can't get posted on one of the sites mentioned above, you can always put up your own website; that can be done for a few dollars a month. Then you can post whatever you want. The issue I was discussing in the article is not who is "allowed" to post; it is about the interest or lack thereof that others will have in what is posted.

Um, you do realize that in the article, I said explicitly that the assumption that only "professional scientists" can come up with valid theories is wrong, don't you? And that I also said explicitly that even scientists can't always be trusted to fairly represent science?

What I have said, though more in this discussion than in the article itself, is that, if the person presenting their theory, whether they are a scientist or not, has not put in the time and effort to understand what is already known, and to be able to explain, in the accepted standard language of the field in question, how their new theory does something that existing theories don't, then they aren't likely to get any interest from others. That's not because they're "not a scientist"; it's because they haven't put in the time and effort.
I was actually thinking of how I've noticed religious people apologizing for some belief in their sacred sources. One common response to why one would place trust in the bible based on what the bible itself asserts is or is not true. Saying that the bible is authored by God, for instance, is deemed 'provable' by those of their particular religion if only one should INVEST the time in actually reading it. It reverses the burden on others to expect they should be the ones to first do their homework. It's also a reason why some team of lawyers in a court or politicians in legislation would opt to 'burden' their opponents with so much paperwork that it begs others to hopefully stop trying to question their authority or just 'pick a side' based on emotions alone. These tactics are as much relevant here when considering who is or is not worthy of being listened to. I'd rather caution on the side of assuming nothing about particular declarations of those proposing theories if only to demonstrate the sincerity of those running forums appealing to truth as not themselves biased in some way. I'm a bit surprised at how many forums of science default to commanding no one question specific theories in a similar way. If public forums themselves are venues only to 'sell' their own ideas, like malls representing public spaces are presented as actually 'private' spaces, their tendency will be to foster those businesses within them irrelevant to the actual public's interest except in appearances. I'm discovering that while 'science' is supposed to be something we ALL own publicly, in practice, this is defeated by those demanding others to accept that what is 'supplied' as representing what people actually want and value as 'truth', and not what people 'demand' in their understanding.


For someone who is familiar with a field, it's pretty easy to tell even from a single post whether a person proposing a new theory in that field understands the field. Whether or not anyone else has responded to the post is irrelevant in making that determination.
No, it tells you what kind of socially common etiquette they share with you. If one goes through the same kind of institutions learning similar vocabulary and expected means of communicating, those who are outsiders doing it with their own drive will inevitably lack the same etiquette. But this becomes the arbiter that discriminates those who may have virtue in their words but can't compete simply for not affording the luxury of education with the same standards. It should be noted though that for those that 'volunteer' to assert theories, they have a more likely virtuous quality of being self-derived, self-motivated, thinkers rather than automatons who've learned what is true based on their ability to demonstrate conformity or to things like their capacity to maintain a lot of data in their heads without necessarily being able to logically draw their own actual conclusions.


And the act of constructing theories to explain observations. Does anyone really believe that theories aren't part of science?
Yes. Theories are often artistic in that they depend on intuition with more significance and ones capacity to argue in some consistent logic, not simply one's skill at referencing others or demonstrating good clerical skills of the vast majority of scientists. Your (a) example was of what IS most of science, true. But this is mostly of those who ARE most clerical and able to be strict to their methods. These are the majority and are Tycho Brahe personalities who are important to science but tend to lack the logical acuity of those like Kepler, who's like your (b) examples and have a better skill at bringing the efforts of the practical scientists into philosophy. But those like Kepler, Newton, and Einstein, ARE more philosophers than they are scientists even while dependent upon those anal types to provide the muscle of science. But because the vast majority ARE of the (a) types, they also tend to dominate the whole of science in ways that often make them favor an elitist kind of preference by others to respect their 'authority'. Truth is NOT a democracy though. I can have compassion and understanding of this but we need to also accept the philosopher types who often appear odd or unusual. Even if many are as potentially flaky, their ideas should not be censored when unnecessary as it is for forums now.


You really need to learn more about how science is actually done.
Tycho Brahe style? Kepler style? There is a lot of divergent views on this and just because you may be on the popular side of your own preference of how it should be done, it is not so black and white. If science should be more strictly anal like Brahe, then I say "shut up and drive" (stick to observing, not pretending that this implies one is good at connecting things with logical skill). I prefer to allow science to be a function of philosophy but don't believe that most scientists know the distinction or care.


I'm not sure what this means. But it raises an obvious question: how much time and effort have you put into learning about QM and relativity?
If you're asking for my actual intellectual capacity on these, I'm very well invested and continue to. But I feel burdened to have to 'read the Bible' and begged to use the same kind of lingo to appeal to those who can't notice the problems between them and related issues. They are more about the politics (including economics) and are evolving into a new priestly caste by a large majority because they are composed of a majority of those (a) type of 'science' you reference. [Tycho Brahe types]


I'm suggesting that, as I said above and as I have said repeatedly in this thread, before even trying to figure out a new theory, much less post it for others to see, you should put in the time and effort to learn what is currently known. If you haven't, it will be obvious, and will almost certainly result in nobody taking any interest in your idea.

We do get complaints from people whose posts have received warnings for violating the PF rules on personal theories and acceptable sources, yes. But we also get complaints that we allow too many personal theory posts to clutter up the forums and obscure content that has value.


The problem is that, even if nobody responds to them, their posts are still there, adding noise to the forums and making it harder for people to find content that has value. That's why we have established rules about what is acceptable, and why we actively discourage posts outside those rules. People can always find other forums, or, as I said above, they can post on their own websites. It's not as though PF is the only place where people can post their theories.
People don't admire the 'clutter' of our waste and think it alright to do whatever it takes to simply hide it. This was and IS appealing. But now we've realized that our landfills and sewage, among other environmental junk, are also creating more problems as people easily dismiss this pollution in causes environmentally without thinking about means to recycle or try to seek advantage of the stuff we toss away indiscriminately. Both extremes are bad. But we have to begin to recognize the reality of both and respect that BOTH are of equal force. We have to watch what we eat AND what we dang even though it seems easy only to think of favoring what we eat.

You are appearing to be optimistic by assuming there are others elsewhere. This is like the more conservative-bent economist thinking that what is 'free' to choose in principle is all that proves we have 'freedom'. I am 'free' to buy a Cadillac, for instance, in this type of thinking. I am told that only my own WILL determines whether I could actually achieve such an expensive vehicle as if my inability is merely just something of fault with my personal character instead. But reality is actually optimized to favor those who already HAVE initial sufficient fortunes that grant them real choices. And they falsely interpret their own capacity to receive what they want as 'proof' that ALL people have the same freedom.

It is NOT the case to assert that there are 'other places' to go. Even where there are, like some potential free blog one could set up, they realistically get even less notice as they blur into piles of garbage in some landfill with scavenger birds everywhere hiding what potential trophies one might discover their. Its a lose-lose for those 'theorists'. We need to recognize the virtue of being patient with those we think are trash and opt to recycle the values they hold in them rather than continue to discriminate against them. You'd be surprised how they might BECOME valuable later on.


Please give some specific examples. And be prepared to be disagreed with regarding whether the people in your examples really did have a "clear understanding of the issues".

Also, a general comment: much of your post is irrelevant to this discussion. PF can't solve problems with the formal education system or the scientific peer review system or the general attitude of society. Please try to focus on the specific points in the article, and on the specific venue of PF and its rules.
I think I've done this here with more clarity and apologize if it appears to digress. I think it still relevant even if I digress a bit. I don't disagree with your essay in total and so can only try to argue what I DO disagree with. At least this isn't 'junk' for some of us liking the depth. Most prefer Twitter-like short responses because it easily fits on to their iPhone screens and trying to scroll past long threads gets annoying for them given their hectic multitasking lifestyles. I hope you are as much entertained as I am to discuss this with you with sincerity to seek solutions. To me, THIS IS as much 'theoretical science' being practiced; but it is "Kepler-like", something that needs no novel experiment with prophesy to make it more valid and functional.
 
  • #161
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. But I feel burdened to have to 'read the Bible' and begged to use the same kind of lingo to appeal to those who can't notice the problems between them and related issues. .
So you find it a burden put in the work to learn the material before criticizing it, and you find it a burden to listen to what the experts say - i.e. having an actual two-way dialog. And yet it's the scientists who are arrogant.
 
  • #162
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@Scott Mayers, a general comment: your posts are getting longer, but much of what you are saying is still irrelevant to this discussion. Please keep to the point. PF also has a rule about hijacking threads. I'm going to respond to the few things that are relevant. Please limit your discussion accordingly.

Non-response occurs as much when more people simply agree too.
Sure, that's possible in general. But I think it's extremely unlikely in the specific scenario we're talking about--where, hypothetically, someone has just posted a new theory that claims to explain something that current theories don't. If the new theory actually looks worth considering, people who think that aren't likely to just stay silent.

how is this valid except as an arbitrary practical consideration of what some set of people determine is politically worthy of attention based on popularity of those they personally favor over others for one reason or another?
The criterion being used to determine what is worthy of attention is not "arbitrary". I have already given the key criterion: for your idea to be worthy of attention, you have to demonstrate that you have put in the time and effort to understand what is already known, and can explain how your new idea explains something that existing theories don't. Your only response to this is, basically, "I don't want to". Sorry, but I don't care.

I'm a bit surprised at how many forums of science default to commanding no one question specific theories in a similar way.
If you think PF is doing this, you are seriously misunderstanding the rules. We aren't telling you not to question specific theories. We are telling you how to question specific theories: by first understanding them, and being able to demonstrate your understanding.

Theories are often artistic
Science is an art. That's why the analogy with other arts--such as the concert pianist comment I made--is apt. Nobody would expect to be taken seriously as a concert pianist without having taken the time and effort to learn how to play the piano and develop an understanding of music. Similarly, nobody should expect to be taken seriously as a proposer of new theories without having taken the time and effort to learn how to construct theories and develop an understanding of the theories we already have.

If you're asking for my actual intellectual capacity on these, I'm very well invested and continue to.
I asked you how much time and effort you have put in. This does not answer that question. I'm looking for something along the lines of "I've spent X number of years studying QM and relativity. I have worked through textbooks A, B, and C. I have taken courses D, E, and F." And so on. Just a statement that "I'm very well invested" is meaningless; that's your personal opinion, but how do I know your opinion is worth anything?

If you absolutely refuse to give more details about what time and effort you've put in to understand QM and relativity, you have an alternative: you could demonstrate to me directly that you understand QM and relativity. For example, you could clarify what you meant by the statement I responded to in my last post, the one I said I wasn't sure what it meant--by "clarified" I mean "restate in terms that someone familiar with QM and relativity would understand".

I think I've done this here with more clarity
You have given no specific examples of what I asked for: people who had a new idea that really was worth considering, and, according to you, demonstrated a "clear understanding" of existing theories, but nevertheless got shut down in a PF discussion instead of being heard. Can you give any?
 
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  • #163
PeterDonis
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If you're asking for my actual intellectual capacity on these, I'm very well invested and continue to.
how do I know your opinion is worth anything?
Perhaps I should expand on this a little. A recurrent theme in your posts is that you see problems with the way science is done--scientists are too unwilling to consider new ideas, too quick to shut down discussion, too quick to accept a theory if it's proposed by a person with the right reputation, etc. These are your opinions, but again: how do I know your opinions are worth anything? Basically, you're giving an example of what I'm talking about: you're proposing a "new theory" about how science should be done, but you haven't demonstrated that you understand the current "theory"--the way science is currently done. In fact, it seems to me from what you're saying that you don't understand how science is currently done. So why should I pay any attention to your opinions about how it should be done?

(Also please bear in mind that PF's purpose is not to "do" science, but to discuss science that's already been done. Part of that discussion can also be about how science is done, but in the end, as I've said before, PF is not the place to propose new theories.)
 
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  • #165
sophiecentaur
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we're all born equal,
I don't think so. You can always quote an exception to the general trend but there is a big chunk of 'nature' in the 'nature and nurture' thing.
I don't see what the problem is in accepting that people are all different. I do know that pressuring kids to do well, academically, when they are struggling hard to keep up can be very counter productive. You couldn't hope to make all kids good at everything - just to give them the option of brilliant performance in something later in their lives. What people don;t seem to realise is that, if you tell kids they can succeed in anything if they only try hard enough and they fail, they brand themselves as a failure. We are talking about Education ( in the broad sense) here and part of a good education is to give people the ability to realise their capabilities and an ability to accept limitations. Life is a pyramid and the point is at the top. However egalitarian we may want to be, we can never change that. All we can do is to try to ensure that the 'nurture' part is made as good as possible for all. We have some way to go there.
 
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  • #166
Vanadium 50
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Einstein was a crackpot outsider
No, he wasn't. He had a PhD at the time of his annus mirtabilis papers, and was a professor of physics when he developed GR.

Knowledge is for everyone, not just those who had the patience to spend 10 years educating themselves.
Sorry, but that's not how the universe works. It would be nice if knowledge could be magically poured into our heads. but it takes, as you say, time and patience.

I think it's time to refer everyone to Steve Dutch's great essay on Self-Appointed Experts.
 
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  • #167
sophiecentaur
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The main point in this thread is about people who think they can achieve something great without putting in the work.
This doesn't seem to have been appreciated by several contributors. They seem to have assumed an implied criticism and several of the posts have been a bit needlessly 'defensive'. I don't think there have actually been any posts from the people that the post is actually criticising.
 
  • #168
Borg
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I don't think there have actually been any posts from the people that the post is actually criticising.
Well, they do tend to get banned.
 
  • #169
sophiecentaur
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I think it's time to refer everyone to Steve Dutch's great essay on Self-Appointed Experts.
I just love that reference. It's a Nuclear Option that should be used more often here - perhaps available as an extra button on the short cut menu - haha.
 
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Borg
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  • #171
ZapperZ
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  • #172
sophiecentaur
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One my favourite quotes is that "if you cannot explain it to a 6 year old, you do not understand it yourself" I never tire of it,
But that doesn't mean a six year old would understand as much as you, after you have explained it to them. It actually means that you need a massive overview of any subject that you claim to be an expert in - massive enough to provide a valid data-reduced version which cannot be mis-understood.
If people "lose interest" because their Maths is inadequate then that is up to them. It doesn't necessarily signify any great loss to them or to the World - they just need to learn acceptance of it. Academia can hardly be held responsible for when people are upset 'cos it's too hard. Yes, some of it is very very hard and non-experts should acknowledge that (I certainly do).
 
  • #173
sophiecentaur
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Well, they do tend to get banned.
HAHA yes - but I meant Posts on this particular thread.
 
  • #174
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Imagine how much work would get done if every professional researcher had to sit down with every random shmo and explain to them why their theory suckedazz.
 
  • #175
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Touché, though I would argue there may well be some asymmetry to that dialogue, rightly so, we have a tendency to judge the world by our own horizons and as such believe everyone knows more or less what we do, it is extremely frustrating spoon feeding information.
It is a difficult case because it is an exception to the normal standards of egalitarianism. In everyday life (I like to think of a political town meeting in my state of Vermont), we are taught to treat everyone with respect as peers. It is an American ideal.

dennis-energy-smart-town-meeting-5-5-09.jpg


In the case of scientific forums, the scientists are frustrated and weary of the burden of having to point out why so many people's ideas about science are not valid. With more effort, the idea holders could learn by themselves why their idea is not good, but they would rather put the burden on scientists to disprove it over and over and over again. That's unfair, and reaction to that unfairness is what I believe the Insights article is about. The scientists have ample justification for rejecting egalitarianism in scientific discussions. As PeterDonis said, people with pet theories should carry the burden of putting in the effort of digging deeper before sharing the theories with others.

On the other hand, the line between the scientist's frustration and elitism is very thin. Elitism is strongly discouraged in the USA. Navigating that thin line is especially difficult when scientific and general topics are mixed. PF has both scientific and general discussion forums. IMO, very different norms of etiquette (i.e. who is qualified to have a valid opinion) should apply in general discussion, yet the same people hop back and forth between both kinds of forums frequently, making it difficult for everyone to keep a double standard in mind.

PF also has engineering forums which are halfway between science forums and general discussion. Engineers have skills at problem solving, and finding the best way to do things. But in many cases, the topics should be judged on a sliding scale of better/worse opinions rather than binary choice valid/invalid theories. Engineers may be more skilled than laymen (and scientists) at finding better ways to do stuff, but they don't claim a monopoly on it. IMO, two of the best engineers of the 20th century had no engineering education. They were Charles Concordia (who had only a high school education) and Enrico Fermi (who was a physicist).
 
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