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Old Jul 19th 2009, 04:26 PM   #1
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Crackpot arguments

I ran into comments today that are way off base. I’ll refer to them below as Boo-boo’s. The ideas behind them can be called “crackpot physics”. I think it’s very useful to discuss these kinds of things. Addressing them allows a person to exercise their Philosophy of Physics muscles.

I’m leaving them anonymous so as not to expose the person who made the comments subject to ridicule. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

Boo-boo #1 – Experiment says "The equations of STR are correct".

Correction to #1 - No experiment can "say" that a theory is correct. The only thing an experiment can "say" is that the results of a particular experiment, i.e. observations, are consistent with what the theory predicts.

Boo-boo #2- Some of us accept that as true, but assert that the THEORY is false nevertheless.

Correction to #2 – If the equations of a theory are correct then the theory cannot be incorrect since the equations of a theory are either mathematical statements of the theory or represent theorems that are derived from the theory.

Boo boo #3 – As a student, a physicist believes the things she was taught.

Correction to #3 - That is not what a physics education consists of, at least not a good education. When I was a student, my professors, as well as myself, was more concerned with what experiments were done and what the results obtained from those experiments were rather than what someone merely claimed to be true. In fact, physics texts almost always present the physics from the point of view of particular observations and experiments. The only thing I assumed was true was that all authors of all textbooks didn't get together and agree to publish the same lie. Then of course there’s the lab where we actually repeat experiments for ourselves. No physicist can graduate and not have done work in a lab to verify the laws of physics for themselves.

Boo boo #4 – A few of us, however, studied some of the details beneath those things by ourselves, by looking at the landmark papers and trying to understand their logic directly rather than through the eyes of a teacher.

Correction #4 - That's the problem with many of the people who claim relativity is wrong. They automatically assume that what they did as part of their education in physics is something that physics students who actually went to college and formally studied it never did. They automatically assume that physics students who know relativity and disagree with them have never read the original papers or that all physics texts misrepresent original work. That is a false assumption and it’s a misleading one too. Students don’t learn the subject from original articles because the theory as currently accepted is not based on those articles. They are mentioned only for historical significance. In most, of not all, cases the arguments and derivations in textbooks are better.

Boo boo #5 – The trouble is that our school-taught physicists misunderstand the physics imposed by the special theory of relativity equations, thus are unable to discover how and why the THEORY is false.

Correction #4 – This boo boo is a bucket full of nonsense. Any person who makes such an accusation clearly doesn’t know what takes place during the education of a physicist.
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Old Jul 19th 2009, 06:55 PM   #2
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Are quacks crackpots? I remember I fell over this site : Are you a quack? describing them in a general way.
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Old Jul 19th 2009, 07:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by arbolis View Post
Are quacks crackpots?
When I hear the term quack I automatically think of a pretender to medical skill (definition from Merriam-Webster Online). The term is also defined as one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability. A crackpot is defined as one given to eccentric or lunatic notion

The person who wrote those boo-boos above has no clue how science works. People like him thinks that physics students who obtain a degree in the usual formal manner are brainwashed to believe whatever their professors wanted them to believe. They see themselves as the true spirits and the better seekers of knowledge whose minds aren't polluted by "the estanblishment" etc. They can be extremely irritating that way.

But I can tell you this - In my experience it has never been a total waste of time debating them on each subject for at least a short time. Those kinds of arguments lead you to think along lines that you normally wouldn't. And you'd be surprised at where it can lead you. I learned this when I was taking a my Philosophy of Science course as an undergraduate. One of the texts we used is called Science & Unreason by Radner and Radner. In the preface the authors write
Nonsense has some surprising twists. You'd be surprised what you can learn by looking at it.
I love that statement. I've kept it in mind for the last 25 years and have experienced these surprising twists that the authors mentioned. It can be a lot of fun. But you have to know when to stop. Not hard to do for us "normal" people.
Originally Posted by arbolis View Post
I remember I fell over this site : Are you a quack? describing them in a general way.
That web site is awesome!! Thanks for the URL.
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