# Are You A Quack?

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by paddoboy, Sep 25, 2016.

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http://insti.physics.sunysb.edu/~siegel/quack.html

"a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality".
New Oxford American Dictionary

This page is dedicated to the many people who have occasionally drifted into my office, or sent me e-mail, or even mailed me their books, eager to tell me about their new theory, which they know will turn all known physics on its head, even though they have only studied an infinitesimal fraction of the latter. Some of them are just ignorant or naive, but are willing to learn; this page is not about them.

There is a distinction between "artistic" scientists & true quacks. The former have some bold new hypotheses (i.e., educated guesses) that have not completely confronted reality. (A former advisor of mine had a bumper-sticker-like sign in his office that went something like, "Your new theory is beautiful and elegant. Too bad it's wrong.") The latter have old ideas that have been fudged to try to reproduce some of the results of new ideas. (For example, anyone sticking to Ptolemaic epicycles after the advent of Copernicus & Kepler would fall into this category. Fairy tales are also old ideas.) Real quacks would not even make good science fiction authors.

On the other hand, there are also "pessimistic" scientists. They do not reject proven science, but refuse to consider new conjectures until they have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Unfortunately, playing it safe seldom leads to new discoveries. ("Nothing ventured, nothing gained.") These also differ from quacks, who tend to reject proven science of much (if not all) of the 20th century.

Quacks (also known as "crackpots" or "cranks") have several well-known mental conditions in common with otherconspiracy theorists:

• Paranoia: No one will listen to their self-contradictory claims; therefore there must be a world-wide web of conspiracy, lasting generations (apparently even between opposing sides through the World Wars & Cold War) to promote fantastic theories which, for some unexplained reason, seem sufficient for the design & operation of modern technology.
• Delusion/denial: For some unclear reason (religion? artistic taste? lack of ability or motivation?) they reject well-established science, & replace it with something of their own invention that they find more satisfying.
• Grandiosity: Their theory could never be wrong; therefore everyone else's must be. They want only to talk and not to listen. Their pride blinds them to their incompetence: They are not good con men; their arguments are unoriginal & transparently wrong to any expert.
• Projection: They accuse scientists of all of these obvious failings of their own, before their victims get a chance to respond. After all, it's only 1 person's word against another. (In common terms, this is known as, "He who smelt it, dealt it.") Thus, all established scientists are scientifically incompetent, ignorant, derisive, religious fanatics, mentally ill, etc.. It's a wonder that society has managed to advance @ all.
Quacks are dogmatists: Their point of view is a belief. A belief is something one assumes to be true because one wants it to be true. They only come up with "proofs" or "evidence" to sway non-believers to their belief. So you can waste your time disproving all their fallacies, but it won't matter to them, because they were invented only for you, & are totally irrelevant to their conviction.

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extract:

1. Attacks on established theories, based on distaste and fear
2. "I have proven that special relativity/quantum mechanics/... is wrong."
You mean you did an experiment whose results disagree with the predictions of that theory? I didn't think so. You mean you proved it is self-contradictory? Not possible: Mathematically it's an elementary system, whose consistency is easy to check. You might as well claim that you can prove 2+2=5. (If you think you can do that, I'm willing to give you $2+$2 change for a \$5 bill.) If you think you have found an inconsistency, you have probably made an assumption that is not implied by the theory. The fact is that these theories are not only well confirmed by experiment, but practical use is made of them every single day.
Note: You will not dispell a quack's distaste for modern physics by relating it to classical physics, since they usually do not understand that either. This is an unusual example of "Familiarity breeds contempt."

Quacks seem to dislike modern physics literally because of the word "relativity": In their attacks, they focus on what is relative, not on what is absolute. They know special relativity says time is relative, but don't understand (or care) that proper time is absolute. In rejecting relativity, they replace it with the ether, rejecting even Galilean relativity, because they refuse to accept that even velocity can be relative. They know general relativity says reference frames are arbitrary, but don't know that it's curvature that displays the physics. They've heard that the uncertainty principle says there are things you can't measure, but don't know what you can measure. Apparently they view modern physics as an attempt to limit their personal freedom. Their egotism does not allow them to accept any frame of reference as equal to their own.

Consequently they are basically 19th century physicists, except for the fact that they don't understand even that. They focus on attacking the physics of the 1st quarter of the 20th century & its results, oblivious to the fact that it is backed up by all the dependent theories & results since then. They want to return to the "good old days", & constantly refer to archaic papers, as if history had anything to say about recent experimental results.

Thus quacks are in perfect agreement with the alleged statement of the Commissioner of the US Patent Office in 1899, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." So it's not surprising they reject ideas developed by someone while working @ the Swiss Patent Office a good several years later.

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5. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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Sounds like one big ad hominem attack to me. Sort of like Trump does. Attack the person instead of the argument. Does that make you feel smarter...calling people names and putting them in boxes? Tell me, when you label somebody a delusional quack, do you feel like their arguments should be taken less seriously? That people shouldn't even listen to what they're saying? That's the result of ad hominem attacks.

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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I posted an article, re some of the types of people that frequent science forums, in the belief, for the reasons listed in the article, that they can invalidate present accepted scientific theories from the realms of said science forum, and/or those others that are apt to apply their own versions of the scientific method, particularly in their preconceived beliefs in Aliens conducting medical experiments and kidnappings, or supernatural beliefs.
All I can say is that if the cap fits, wear it.

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8. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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Hey it's your personal cap. You're the one who tailored it. Are you calling me a quack now?

"Quack" btw is not a mental disorder. Here's the real definition:

quack

[kwak]
Spell Syllables
noun
1.
a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill.
2.
a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to skill, knowledge,or qualifications he or she does not possess; a charlatan.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/quack

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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9. ### DaeconKiwi fruitValued Senior Member

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Why are you taking it so personally MR? It's almost as if you think everything in the article quoted in the OP applies specifically to you...

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I certainly did not tailor it, obviously....hence the link.
I don't believe I mentioned your name, nor was your name mentioned in the article...but again, if the cap fits..........

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
11. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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The only thing truly offensive about someone who is claiming things to be true that are not true, in terms of science, is when they make money off of it, because they've managed to dupe enough followers to buy into their ''theories.'' A few years ago, not sure if it's still on...but there was a show dedicated to ''finding Bigfoot'' and I believe it was on the Animal Planet channel. (as if it's an actual living animal)
It was made to be very believable and it supposedly had extremely high ratings. It saddens me that people dupe others, and make money off of it. That's the only time ''quackery'' bothers me.

12. ### DaeconKiwi fruitValued Senior Member

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Oh dear, don't let Magical Realist know you don't think Bigfoot is real, you'll never hear the end of it.

13. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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Take what personally? That paddoboy is writing off everyone who criticizes mainstream scientific theories as delusional quacks? When have I ever criticized a mainstream science theory?

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
14. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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Oh dear..troll Deacon swooping in with his nasty one-liners to obsess about me again. How will I ever survive..lol!

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
15. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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So that wasn't you talking about your own experience? Next time put quotations around your posts so we can figure that out. You also quoted a definition at the very beginning but omitted the word "psychosis". Were we supposed to just infer that you weren't talking about quacks here?

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The link would give any reasonable person a clue.

My experience??

Not at all. I'm not making gullible, impressionable, claims, nor trying to invalidate mainstream cosmology from the realms of a science forum open to any Tom, Dick, and Harry, oh, and quacks and trolls!

You?

I mean is the cap fitting?

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I was thinking the same thing!

18. ### DaeconKiwi fruitValued Senior Member

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Tell us again about how you're not taking it personally..

19. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

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Tell me how if the cap fits isn't calling me a quack..

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The question was asked, "If the cap fits, wear it" You put it on!

21. ### YazataValued Senior Member

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The expression of frustration/rant in the O.P. was apparently written by a physicist. But despite not being a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist, he's nevertheless purporting to identify what he describes as a new 'psychosis', a new psychiatric illness, one that's unrecognized by the professionals in the mental health field and is most definitely not in the DSM-5.

Isn't that the definition of "quackery"?

Kind of self-refuting, I'd say.

Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
22. ### SchmelzerValued Senior Member

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Ups, a verificationist .... He would better learn scientific methodology first.

There are much better recommendations how to handle cranks, I especially like Baez crackpot index. It is, of course, some sort of name-calling too, but at least funny. And, moreover, based on a lot of real experience with cranks.

If one would really like to study cranks in a more serious way, calling them cranks is not helpful at all. There are some really interesting questions which cannot be answered this way - namely, the concentration of cranks in a few directions. The classical list of mathematical cranks: angle trisecting, proving Fermat, and circle squaring. (I don't know if Fermat provers exist yet, once it is anyway officially solved.) In physics, the crank questions have a similar concentration, around Einstein's "logical errors". In biology it is evolution.

To explain what makes a problem attractive for cranks would be interesting. For the mathematics, the explanation is quite simple and obvious: The problem itself is easy to understand. The official solution is not. Something similar with SR too: The theory is sufficiently simple to understand the math, at least partially, but the philosophical solution - Minkowski spacetime - is counter-intuitive.

23. ### DywyddyrPenguinaciously duckalicious.Valued Senior Member

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Or is he simply pointing out - with examples - that quackery fits the description of psychosis?
We certainly have our share of cranks, quacks and nutcases here who give every impression "that contact is lost with external reality" to an extent.

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