# So, you've got a new theory...

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(A collection of some thoughts brought on by recent posts and posters. Some of these are touched upon in the FAQ and Pseudoscience section, and these sentiments can be found on other science fora)

If you think you've toppled relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution or some other theory with your post, think again. Theories that have been around for a while have lots of evidence to back them up. It is far more likely that you have missed something.

Here are some things to consider:

1. You have to back your statements up with evidence.

2. Anecdotes are not evidence.

3. Being challenged to present evidence is not a personal attack.

4. Calling the people in who challenge you "brainwashed" or "stupid" does not further your argument. Neither does throwing a tantrum.

5. Published research (peer-reviewed) is more credible than the alternative. But peer-review is not perfect.

6. When you have been shown to be wrong, acknowledge it.

7. Just because some paper or web site agrees with you does not mean that you are right. You need evidence.

8. Just because some paper comes to the same conclusion as you does not mean your hypotheses are the same.

9. Provide references when you refer to the work of others. Make sure the work is relevant, and quotes are in the proper context.

10. Disagreeing with you does not make someone "close-minded." "Thinking outside the box" is not a substitute for verifiable experimental data.

11. Mainstream science is mainstream because it works, not because of some conspiracy. If you think you have an alternative, you have to cover all the bases - not just one experiment (real or gedanken). One set of experimental results that nobody has been able to reproduce is insufficient.

12. Respect is earned. People who are resident experts, mods and administrators have earned those titles.

13. Be familiar with that which you are criticizing. Don't make up your own terminology, and know the language of the science. A theory is not a guess.

14. If nothing will convince you your viewpoint is wrong, you aren't doing science. That's religion.

15. All theories are of limited scope. Just because a theory does not address some point you want it to does not automatically mean it's wrong.

16. Not understanding a concept, or discovering that it's counterintuitive, does not make it wrong. Nature is under no obligation to behave the way you want it to.

17. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Science cares very little about your opinion, as it has little relevance to the subject.

18. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to address criticism of your viewpoint.

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That's a nice list. We should sticky it somewhere.

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Sticky this in pseusdoscience & metaphysics. Please. These are all points I have tried to make to Christ Slave and his ilk.

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Ide also add to Swansonts List that after reading it and you Still feel your "theory" passes, USE OUR SEARCH ENGINE FIRST!!! before posting.

youde be surprised what might have been thought of before you

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Having a different opinion does not constitute a personal attack, whether you are on the side of the mainstream or the fringe. It is true that so-called mainstream scientists will use personal attacks under the guise of having an honest difference of opinion. An old Martin Gardner article was stunningly bad that way, and he was the math guru of the 1950s. And no, "being wrong" does not justify personal attacks.

I haven't seen any of that going on here, but I want moderators to be aware that some people do it, and watch out for it. It's not the subject matter. It's not the side you are on. It is the way you present your opinions.

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I haven't seen any of that going on here, but I want moderators to be aware that some people do it, and watch out for it. It's not the subject matter. It's not the side you are on. It is the way you present your opinions.

If it's science, it not about opinions at all. It's about what you can support with evidence.

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(A collection of some thoughts brought on by recent posts and posters. Some of these are touched upon in the FAQ and Pseudoscience section' date=' and these sentiments can be found on other science fora)

If you think you've toppled relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution or some other theory with your post, think again. Theories that have been around for a while have lots of evidence to back them up. It is far more likely that you have missed something.

Here are some things to consider:

1. You have to back your statements up with evidence.

...

4. Calling the people in who challenge you "brainwashed" or "stupid" does not further your argument. Neither does throwing a tantrum.

...

6. When you have been shown to be wrong, acknowledge it.

7. Just because some paper or web site agrees with you does not mean that you are right. You need evidence.

...

9. Provide references when you refer to the work of others. Make sure the work is relevant, and quotes are in the proper context.

10. Disagreeing with you does not make someone "close-minded." "Thinking outside the box" is not a substitute for verifiable experimental data.

11. Mainstream science is mainstream because it works, not because of some conspiracy. If you think you have an alternative, you have to cover all the bases - not just one experiment (real or gedanken). One set of experimental results that nobody has been able to reproduce is insufficient.

...

13. Be familiar with that which you are criticizing. Don't make up your own terminology, and know the language of the science. A theory is not a guess.

...

18. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to address criticism of your viewpoint.[/quote']Swansont, what is the policy regarding a speculative thread that does not adhere to the above "requirements" ?

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kicked into pseudoscience or closed or both.

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An old Martin Gardner article was stunningly bad that way, and he was the math guru of the 1950s.
Now that's nothing but an unsubstantiated claim, and further, it's possibly no more than just your personal opinion. While I'm not arguing the truth of it, such statements mean absolutely nothing to me, if you don't provide an actual reference.

It's ironic that you make such a statement in the very thread that urges members to back up claims with evidence.

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Swansont, what is the policy regarding a speculative thread that does not adhere to the above "requirements" ?

I don't make the rules, so the "requirements" are just a suggestion to make discussions go more smoothly. No sense wasting time explaining it all yet again to everyone that comes down the pike. Some of the rude behavior I caution against will get you into serious trouble, and the rest is an attempt to educate people on how science works.

However, for anyone who's fond of extrapolating based on little data (i.e. can't distinguish between correlation and causality), the posters whose actions inspired me to come up with the list were eventually banned.

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Checks and Balances:

Having a different opinion ... And no, "being wrong" does not justify personal attacks. ...It's not the side you are on. It is the way you present your opinions.
I have stripped the superfluous anecdotes and comments which were objected to previously. The post was obscured by the 'remotely likely' and rather subtle example of people challenging opinions with an alterior motive: (possibly to provoke emotional reaction or bad behaviour from a poster who is disliked, and so get them blackmarked or banned).

When the cards are stacked, its unlikely any poster with an opinion could win for long in such a situation. But let us suppose there is no conspiracy, and the moderators and administrators for the most part simply want to run an organized professional looking forum.

So let's stick to the best point in Kirby's post: Giving (unsupported) opinions and discussing issues on the fringe of science is an absolutely necessary part of doing science. "...It's not the side you are on. It is the way you present your opinions.".

If it's science, it not about opinions at all. It's about what you can support with evidence.
As much as I strive for the exact same ideal, I just can't agree with this on the face of it.

If we're just going to 'stick to mainstream science', and disallow opinion and discussion, why have a forum at all? Why not just post a bunch of stickys:

(1) Here is the current status quo in field x: blah blah.

(2) Please only post opinions in agreement with blah.

(3) If you have any questions walk through the tutorials, and watch the animated gifs.

(4) If you still have questions try google. If this doesn't work search more stickys.

(5) Please limit posts to questions directed at the moderators from this list, a,b,c,... which they have prepared answers for, but have refused to post as a sticky.

(6) If your question is deleted and you are banned, be patient. Although you will never be able to pick up messages, or find out what happened, relax. In the afterlife you can point out to St. Peter why you think our forum is like a fast-food religious cult.

The point is, all good questions and opinions will have little or no support from 'mainstream' scientific papers, and can't be 'reviewed by peers' before being offered. Physics forums ought to be the very places where ideas can be exchanged and criticised in a free and open manner. It is not a 'waste' of cyberspace or an 'abuse' of a science forum to discuss the problems of science.

And one should not have to be an expert or have prepared 'evidence' for every thought. If anything, saying something might bring forward a quick correction and save years of misunderstanding or wasted efforts. That is what being helpful is all about.

The only thing any person at any level needs to bring to a physics forum is open-mindedness and perhaps humility, or at least enough humility to maintain good manners in the face of criticism or opposition.

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Comment: I used to write SF and NF (mostly "fillers." IOW I "dabbled" while working in "real" jobs/careers), and enjoyed reading much pseudo-science stuff since it might work as an "idea-generator" that might be applicable elsewhere in the real world (in my case, mech. eng. and some R & D). If nothing else, it kept my mind open for new "gimmicks." For example, I "invented" (devised-adapted may be a better description) a bellows stretcher for use with heat-treated welded-metal bellows to adjust its free length to a certain range. This seemingly astounding contraption was merely a glorified wine-bottle cork-puller; that cork-puller was my idea generator. And it worked. ;#) I suppose that way of thinking might be also called serendipity. . . .

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Yep…

If I have any off the wall ideas I usually like to post them …not so I can be credited with them if they prove correct ..but just in case someone is working away in a lab somewhere and just needs one small missing piece to a puzzle (that my obscure observation may enable them to connect).

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kicked into pseudoscience or closed or both.

then why isn't everything that's labeled ID/creationism moved into pseudoscience?

it should be

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lol, and how damned should i find proof for my space theory, lol, can any send some probe nto nearest black hole so I can confirm :S

like einstein had any proof on his relativity theory ???, just that back then no1 was interested in space so no1 debated him, and that turns science int philosophy, so that's why there are no new scientist since Werhner Von Braun.

And guys, don't yell @ me cause I told that

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people were very much interested in space back then (mostly because of em). Einstein created SR by deriveing SR from maxwells equations, and by his doing this solved a very difficult problem in physics (the absence of the aether). It also took special relativity about 7 years to be accepted (alot of scientists did not like the idea).

it also has since been proven correct by hundreds of observations

The main difference between pseudo-science and science is tht scientists use existing work to build their ideas.

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What is a new theory?

Bohr and many others stumbled on atomic spectra because they did not understand the two "nabla" 's of Maxwell . They did not see the difference between a changing field and an E M wave.

Is an explanation of the hydrogen spectrum from Maxwell a new theory?

Everybody may have it. (.pdf 150 kb )

foofaa

(e-mail fb254383@skynet.be

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Perhaps a new topic could be introduced. It could be called Ponderables, for those of us who like to nibble at the edges of the unknown and share those thoughts with others.

Then the discipline-bound scientists would not be offended and would not even have to open the threads; and the rest of us could exchange wild ideas, new theories, estoteric propositions and questions regarding the boundary fields of known science without being labeled as lesser beings.

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Perhaps a new topic could be introduced. It could be called Ponderables, for those of us who like to nibble at the edges of the unknown and share those thoughts with others.
How would this be different from the Pseudosciences forum we already have?

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How would this be different from the Pseudosciences forum we already have?

Pseudoscience is by definition "an unscientific or trivially scientific theory... that appears to be presented as scientific" according to the American Heritage Dictionary.

It is a derogatory term, designed to minimize or belittle the comments of people as not measuring up to a purely scientific standard.

This is vastly different from pondering and/or exploring the boundaries of existing knowledge in an intellectual discourse.

Although I agree that research should be performed and any results presented, there are times when the pure thought should excite some interest in pursuing the subject further.

Every single scientific discovery came from someone looking at a thing from a different perspective, and most were laughed at initially. That is what a theory is, a thought process taken to a logical conclusion and then proven repeatedly. A theory is not a fact.

I see no problem with someone throwing out a theory for others to disprove or refute; it is how we all learn. Morphology is a great example. When Sheldrake proposed the morphic field in the 70s, he offered a prize for its refutation in the classical manner.

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Pseudoscience is by definition "an unscientific or trivially scientific theory... that appears to be presented as scientific" according to the American Heritage Dictionary.

It is a derogatory term' date=' designed to minimize or belittle the comments of people as not measuring up to a purely scientific standard.

This is vastly different from pondering and/or exploring the boundaries of existing knowledge in an intellectual discourse.

[/quote']

As nice as this forum is, I think you are overly optimistic to think that such boundary-pushing would take place in a format like this. Threads get moved into pseudoscience all the time; they can just as easily be moved out if the discussion warrants it. If you really, really don't think it's pseudoscience, you can post in another topic and let the discussion start. But given the history and the odds suggested buy it, I'd prefer not to suggest a course of action that burdens the admins and mods. All such roads seem to eventually lead to pseudoscience.

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Found a nice post of things to keep in mind for anyone thinking they've overturned modern science. Some old, some new.

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

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If you read SIEGEL's book on fields you will see that the guy has a sence of humor! The page you point out swanshot reflects this.

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Found a nice post of things to keep in mind for anyone thinking they've overturned modern science. Some old' date=' some new.

Siegel's essay repeats, with more humor but less precision, the way Kitty Ferguson summed up the scientific method:

"...what we learned in school about the scientific method can be reduced to two basic principles.

"1. All our theory, ideas, preconceptions, instincts, and prejudices about how things logically ought to be, how they in all fairness ought to be, or how we would prefer them to be, must be tested against external reality --what they *really* are. How do we determine what they really are? Through direct experience of the universe itself.

2. The testing, the experience, has to be public, repeatable -- in the public domain. If the results are derived only once, if the experience is that of only one person and isn't available to others who attempt the same test or observation under approximately the same conditions, science must reject the findings as invalid -- not necessarily false, but useless. One-time, private experience is not acceptable." Kitty Ferguson, The Fire in the Equations, pg. 38.

This is the best summary I have found so far. It is objectivity and intersubjectivity.