Create new "Alternative theories" forum in Science section?

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by James R, Feb 14, 2004.

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Should a new "Alternative theories" forum be created?

Poll closed Mar 7, 2004.
  1. Yes, and I would post there regularly if it existed.

    6.4%
  2. Yes, but I would probably not post there often.

    53.2%
  3. No, the existing forums are sufficient.

    38.3%
  4. No. I have a better idea (see below).

    2.1%
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  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    35,782
    This is an issue which has been bubbling away in the Physics & Math forum for a while now.

    Last time I polled users of the Physics & Math forum about the best way to deal with non-standard physical theories, they replied as follows:

    * 2/3 of respondents said they would like a "Theory Development" or "Alternative Theories" forum separate to the existing "Physics & Math" forum.
    * 1/2 the respondents also said they would not post in such a forum if it was created.

    I would not wish to restrict any new forum to dealing with alternative theories only in Physics or Math. I suggest that, if such a forum is created, it should deal with alternative theories in all areas of science. However, discussion should be related to science, and not pseudoscience. Therein lies a potential problem.

    As I have said before, I personally do not support the creation of a new forum, but I would still like to test the idea with the members of sciforums. In my opinion, it is reasonably easy to divide Physics threads into two groups, belonging either in the Physics forum, or in the Pseudoscience forum. An "Alternative Theories" forum would create a kind of murky middle-ground.

    So, as well as replying to the proposal suggested above, I would also like your responses to the following questions:

    Assuming such a forum was created:

    1. What would be a good name for it?
    2. What kinds of theories would this forum cover?
    3. How will moderators be able to decide whether a given thread belongs in the new forum, or in the Pseudoscience forum, or in one of the existing Science forums? (And should this be up to the moderators, or to the people starting threads?)

    Here are a few case studies. Where would the following threads go (Physics forum, Pseudoscience forum, Alternative theories forum)?

    4. "Evolution is wrong. Creationism is right!"
    5. "Relativity is wrong. My theory explains things better!"
    6. "Pyramid power exists, and I have independent evidence!"
    7. "Pyramid power exists. I've experienced it myself!"
    8. "Pyramid power exists, and all scientists who say it doesn't are just deluded!"
    9. "I don't know if Pyramid power exists, but I'd like to discuss the possibility."
    10. "Aliens are landing on Earth every day."
    11. "New cosmological theory offers explanation for dark matter."
    12. "A new approach to wave-particle duality."
     
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  3. lethe Registered Senior Member

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    2,009
    not sure.
    anything malformed. these tend to be disputations of relativity of quantum theory, but in principle, any poster who has ideas inconsistent with modern science (i.e. disbelieving theories that have long been established experimentally), is crackpot, and does not belong in a science forum.

    well, the person who starts the thread can choose where he posts it, and the moderator can choose to move it if necessary. so both.

     
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  5. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    13,104
    You missed the "How to build a Perpetual Motion engine" case study, the number of times that one has come up, although really perhaps there should be a sticky with "Why it's believed impossible".

    You could potentially mark the thread titles with a symbol to suggest if they are in line with the forum or if they are pseudoscience.
     
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  7. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

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    1,339
    Hi all,

    I agree mostly with lethe's comments, and I think the criteria for "crackpottery" and scientific posts are quite good and quite clear to apply as a general policy.

    For the record, I'll also give my classification:

    If scientific evidence supporting creatonism is found, then this could lead to a debate. No scientific evidence for creationism is available, and to be honest, I doubt there ever will be. So this would go to pseudoscience, it is no science.

    Also depends. If evidence is given, and especially a thorough understanding of where relativity fails at specific points, then this can be in the physics forum. If the understanding of relativity is clearly not good or non-existant, then this would be "Alternative Theories". If no understanding and no evidence are given, then "Pseudoscience" or plain delete.

    Physics forum. Independent and verifiable and repeatable evidence qualifies as science. Note the "and" "and"

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    Not independent, probably not repeatable and surely not trustworthy. Pseudoscience.

    The "even more narrow minded than the scientists"-forum

    Since no scientific evidence of it is given at the moment, but given the possibility of a scientific discussion, then "alternative theories".

    Depending on the evidence and repeatability and ... etc..

    Depends on the nature of the theory. If it is scientificly structured, and rigoreous, then this is clearly Physics. If it is the usual "new theory" stuff we get on this forum, "alternative theories" or even "pseudoscience" (depending on the amount of mathematics and supporting evidence given).

    See 11.


    I think the danger of the current setup is (and this was already said previously) that now there is no clear distinction between "mainstream science" and "i have this idea and ... ". This can be very confusing for the non-scientific reader (and we have plenty).

    Bye!

    Crisp
     
  8. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,834
    This is rather pointless. Sciforums has drifted away from being a science forum, most good posters have fled the site and those who remain, lethe, crisp, James, etc. hardly post at all compared to before.
     
  9. Prosoothus Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,973
    Do UFO's exist? Are aliens creating crop circles? Does antigravity exist? Is relativity wrong?

    I don't know the answers to these questions (except for the last one, which is definitely yes

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    ), but each debate resulting from these questions can be scientific if the scientific method is followed and there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion. In other words, you can't judge whether a debate is scientific based on the name of the topic being discussed, but on how the topic is being debated.
     
  10. 1100f Banned Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    807
    I agree with what Lethe and Crisp.
    Also, I think I have a name for this forum: "the place of the crackpots".

    On second thought, crackpots don't believe they are' so they will stay in the Physics forum.

    Maybe "Stop Crack" is also a good name (it has a good social message), but I don't know if crackpots will go there.

    So I think that "Alternative theories" is an appropriate name.
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    35,782
    Prosoothus:

    Do you think that "Relativity is wrong" belongs in an "alternative theory" forum, or in the Physics forum, or somewhere else?
     
  12. CounslerCoffee Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,997
    While I do not pretend to know what you're all talking about, I got to point out that Sciforums doesn't have a separate Republican section, and a liberal section. Can't you people just agree to get along and discuss crazy ideas?
     
  13. Prosoothus Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,973
    James,

    In a perfect world, I would put the "Relativity is wrong" topic in the alternate theory forum along with all other theories that challenge currently accepted theories.

    I'm however against an alternate theory forum since I get the feeling that if it was created, it would attract all the crackpots and repel all the legitimate scientists. I would have no reason to post anything in that forum if all I could expect would be replies from crackpots.

    As for the term pseudoscience, it's an oxymoron. Either a discussion is scientific, or it isn't.
     
  14. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,104
    Perhaps it would be better to have a thread with paragraphs titled with the titles previously stated and the paragraph stating the scientific reasoning to why the theory is wrong without any discussion allowed in that thread, with a note to where they should post if they want to discuss it further (Pseudoscience)
     
  15. 1100f Banned Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    807
    Maybe I have an unstable personality, but I just changed my mind (I believe that tomorrow, or in a few days, I will change it again), but I just read a few threads. Well, before reading them, I was not in the mood and I was feeling down. But after reading them... It was a long time since I laughed so much. Please, let the crackpots write in this forum.

    Hehe, I have allready changed my mind. Create a forum for the crackpots, so that we know where the fun is.
     
  16. lethe Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,009
    our newest crackpot, Aetherdew, has taken to posting crackpot nonsense in legitimate threads. see for example the recent thread on the standard model, which Aetherdew has effectively hijacked with nonsense about æther theories. as has been previously discussed, it is my opinion that this sort of behaviour is counterproductive, and should be moderated.
     
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    35,782
    It would have been moderated - if I'd seen it earlier.

    It seems the thread has been self-moderated at this stage.
     
  18. Persol I am the great and mighty Zo. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,946
    My take on your sample threads...

    Physics forum
    6. "Pyramid power exists, and I have independent evidence!"
    9. "I don't know if Pyramid power exists, but I'd like to discuss the possibility."
    11. "New cosmological theory offers explanation for dark matter."
    12. "A new approach to wave-particle duality."

    Pseudoscience forum
    4. "Evolution is wrong. Creationism is right!"
    7. "Pyramid power exists. I've experienced it myself!"
    8. "Pyramid power exists, and all scientists who say it doesn't are just deluded!"
    10. "Aliens are landing on Earth every day."


    Alternative theories forum
    5. "Relativity is wrong. My theory explains things better!"

    I don't really think that the creation of an alternative theories forum is the solution. Of the threads listed, only one would be an 'alternative theory'... and I see no reason to seperate generally honest theories from the physics forum. Technically string theory should also be 'alternative'.

    The problem however is in the CONTENT. The two pyramid power threads are acceptable in the physics forum IF they have something to do with physics and the thread doesn't resort to 'it exists because I said so'. The 'relativity is wrong' is even fine in physics, as long as there is some actual content and an understanding even the smallest hint that the poster understands the theory. Similarly, alternative theories are fine... as long as they actually have a consistant theory and are willing to discuss it. Not more 'I am right because I say so'
     
  19. Rappaccini Redoubtable Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,192
    I don't think that this is very practical.


    I admit that I rarely make productive or sensible posts, but, when I do, I do it in the Physics and Mathematics forum. So I'm definitely not somebody who wants that holy-of-holies further blackened by these unsavory hypothoses.
    Truth is, though, I really don't think that making a new subforum is an effective solution.

    The proponents of alternative theories probably aren't interested in having their precious creations relegated to some second class category.
    They've got to know that if they cooperate no one is going to read about their brilliant new ideas.


    I mean... if the powers-that-be decide to set up this subforum, I'm probably going to read it about as often as I purposefully microwave metal spoons... which isn't too often, in case you wanted to know.

    All the anti-relativity-ites and ether-ites out there are bound to realize that people like me aren't going to expend the energy required to access a newfangled subforum and take a gander at their theories. They wouldn't even use it.


    The whole thing'll cost the moderators effort and probably accomplish nothing.

    In conclusion, the immediate eschewal of this "alternative theory" area proposal is likely in everyone's best interests.

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2004
  20. lethe Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,009
    this is true. the crackpots do not want to put their theories in the crackpot forum. if we don't have a policy to move all crackpot threads to the crackpot forum, then the forum will be completely useless.


    same here. however, you should observe that in the Math & Physics forums, by far the most popular threads, the most read threads, the most replied-to threads, are the crackpot threads.

    people like James, Crisp, Persol, Tom2, 1100f, all have impressive records of posting in the crackpot threads. just go to Math/Physics, sort threads by most posts, or by most views, and look at the enormous traffic these threads get. crackpot posts and peoples responses to them probably make up more than half of the posts to Math/Physics

    if these people are willing to post in crackpot threads in the Math/Physics forum, perhaps they will continue to be willing to do so in a crackpot forum.

    the whole point is not to give the crackpots the choice (although they will have the choice), but to give the rest of us a choice to <i>not</i> read the crackpot posts.


    of course, this system would only work if the Math/Physics moderator were willing to move all crackpottery to the crackpot forum.

    my interest is in seeing more math and science, and less crackpottery. leaving things as they stand is not the best course, in my opinion.
     
  21. MacM Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,104
    James R.,

    I have voted for an "Alternative Theories" or "Theories Development" forum. I do question just how sucessful it might be because there seem to be a handful of participants that will deliberately distort what is being said and to post unrelated nonsense to a string rather than make any bonafide effort to give some ideas a fair hearing.

    Your thread "UniKEF Analysis" is a perfect example. It mushroomed into a series of totally unrelated issues and unfounded claims and challenges rather than its agreed purpose which was to determine the primary mathematical basis for the theory was valid or not.

    I hope that thread remains open in any case since I have others working an a new and properly scripted calculus presentation. I can tolerate and deal with the nonsense being posted by those that don't want to see the actual result of such a calculation.

    In the final analysis it will be up to the moderator to determine if something posted there has any scientific basis for consideration. In the case of my own work that would (at least initially) be limited to the calculus evaluation.

    Nothing else about the theory would qualify. If the underlying mathematics is proven then I suggest some room for speculation as to what that might mean could then be open for discussion. Such as the prori predictions that were based on the concept. If not supported mathematically THEN it would become pseudoscience.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2004
  22. AndersHermansson Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    334
    Good initiative. If one is not going to debate scientific topics with the proper language nor wanting to learn the language (mathematics) then one is not going to make any meaningful contribution to the forum anyway. I know, hell, I used to be a crackpot. Along the way I found out that it's not about childish fantasies about greatness any longer, it's about doing it (or learning it) for real.
     
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    35,782
    But you already have that choice.
     
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