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Guidelines for Participating in Speculations Discussions


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The speculations forum draws a fair amount of lively discussion. Here are some guidelines for ALL participants.

The official rules regarding the Speculations forum

The Speculations forum is provided for those who like to hypothesize new ideas in science. To enrich our discussions above the level of Wild Ass Guesswork (WAG) and give as much meaning as possible to such speculations, we do have some special rules to follow:

  1. Speculations must be backed up by evidence or some sort of proof. If your speculation is untestable, or you don't give us evidence (or a prediction that is testable), your thread will be moved to the Trash Can. If you expect any scientific input, you need to provide a case that science can measure.
  2. Be civil. As wrong as someone might be, there is no reason to insult them, and there's no reason to get angry if someone points out the flaws in your theory, either.
  3. Keep it in the Speculations forum. Don't try to use your pet theory to answer questions in the mainstream science forums, and don't hijack other threads to advertise your new theory.

The movement of a thread into (or out of) Speculations is ultimately at the discretion of moderators, and will be determined on a case by case basis.

For those of you who are posting here: this is a science forum, and speculations are still to be discussed in that context. If it doesn't fit as a science discussion, or you refuse to discuss the idea as such, the thread will be closed down.

1. If you are presenting some new conjecture and insisting that it is correct, or are objecting to some mainstream theory, you need to back up your position and will be expected to do so. It's a far better approach to ask questions if it's a matter of not understanding how some scientific principle works.

Once you insist your idea is right (or some other idea is wrong) the burden of proof is on you, so expect to be challenged and to defend your idea. Some kind of scientific model, comparison with evidence, specific predictions or other ways of falsifying your idea are a MUST. Consider the first question you must address as "How could this be tested to ensure that it's true?" That's what a model does it allows one to predict outcomes under specific conditions so that they can be compared with experiment.

- A model is often an equation or set of equations, so that one can predict some measurable outcome under a set of measurable conditions. V = IR is a simple model in electricity. All of the terms represent something physically measurable. Systematically choosing two of the variables allows you predict the third one, which can be compared with the measurement.

- evidence means scientific evidence, i.e. it is objective and specific, and to be useful, it has to differentiate your idea from any existing model. Anecdotes don't count, and logic without a physical experiment this includes thought experiment is insufficient (though these can be used to make predictions)

2. Huge "walls of text" are usually difficult to get through and discourage participation. Present an abstract — a distillation of your idea first. Get into the details afterwards. It has to be posted here, though. Simply linking to an outside site for text or video is not sufficient, and against the rules.

3. Specific predictions often require math. Do not expect others to do your math for you, nor should you consider the math to be a trivial and therefore unimportant part of your conjecture it's usually crucial. e.g. a vague explanation that something will get hot would not separate your idea from some other idea. Predicting a temperature dependence on certain conditions would allow for that.

In cases where math may not be required, you still need to be able to make predictions that distinguish your idea from existing theories, e.g. predicting some result where mainstream theory predicts nothing happens, or some other clear distinction. If you can't do this, it's a sign you need a more detailed model.

4. It's a good idea to explain what new ground you're covering if it's a new hypothesis, what problem with the mainstream theory does this new idea solve? If it's a critique, clearly explain the alleged shortcoming(s) of the existing theory.

To do this properly you need to be familiar with the area of science into which your idea would fit, or the material you are critiquing. You must also know the terminology. You can't effectively communicate if you are using different definitions than everyone else, or making up nomenclature for things where it already exists. The dictionary is not a good substitute for a science textbook, because science uses specific definitions.

5. You can't ignore criticism of your idea. When someone points out where a prediction fails to match experiment or some other sticking point, you need to address the issue. This is a two-way discussion, not a lecture. It doesn't matter if your idea appears explain one phenomenon if it fails elsewhere that it's expected to work.

6. If your post was moved to speculations and you want know why, read this.

To all of those responding to Speculations posts:

Remember that non-participation is always an option. If you have nothing constructive to add to the conversation, please stay out of it. Posts that simply state "word salad" add no value. Accusations of trolling or crackpottery, or other snide remarks, are similarly devoid of useful content, and depending on how you phrase the post, can be considered personal attacks. Focus on pushing the thread in the direction of science rather than creating noise. If your post is only adding noise, it may be hidden.

Responses should be in terms of accepted science, not your own personal theory.

Don't use the post to raise independent questions of your own those belong in a new thread. All conversation should be addressing the original concept, or correcting/clarifying responses to that.


Discussion of these points can take place here

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