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Thread: Why are so many nutters attracted to science websites?

  1. #1 Why are so many nutters attracted to science websites? 
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    What is it about science that seems to attract certain people with a less than adequate grip on reality?


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I wonder if it is discussion forums rather science per se.


    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    LOL
    I was wondering why religious points of view were so present in a science forum, but then again I thank god I dont live in a place where Creationism is seen as being on par with biology and astronomy, in these places(or back in time prior to the 20th century) it probably doesnt sound as bat shit as it does everywhere else
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  5. #4  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I think it is the allure of "special knowledge", of knowing something most other people don't, made even better by "knowing" better than all the experts. Even had a crazy cousin (not genetic ) who regularly escaped from insane asylums and also thought he solved cold fusion. I guess it plays straight into a nead to manufacture a delusion of being special to compensate for a low self esteem coupled with whatever other problems they might have.
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  6. #5  
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    What better place to post nonsense for a while about "science"? If you post it on MSN, or yahoo, there will be no comment at all, it will just be ignored. At least here, you can act like a troll, get smacked down, then whine about how the mainstream science conspiracy is ignoring your "wisdom". Then for the true numnuts, add another badge for another site you've been banned from.
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  7. #6  
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    I agree with Kalster.

    I think science forums attract people who suffer from grandiose delusions. They can imagine that they are great geniuses who will revolutionize science, solve the problems of the world's energy supply, and things of that nature. By learning a bit of science jargon, they might even fools some people into thinking they are legitimate. A grandiose delusion can also be mixed with a persecution belief. This could explain why many of our crackpots think their ideas are unfairly treated by other forum members and the world of science in general.
    Delusional disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I agree with Kalster.

    I think science forums attract people who suffer from grandiose delusions. They can imagine that they are great geniuses who will revolutionize science, solve the problems of the world's energy supply, and things of that nature. By learning a bit of science jargon, they might even fools some people into thinking they are legitimate. A grandiose delusion can also be mixed with a persecution belief. This could explain why many of our crackpots think their ideas are unfairly treated by other forum members and the world of science in general.
    Delusional disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I agree with this. The recently suspended member "Pincho Paxton" was the perfect textbook example.
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  9. #8  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    There is, I think, a sub-category of the younger poster - teens into early twenties - who is fascinated by the original, the different, the amazing. They may enjoy science fiction. They are attracted to the idea that there may be conspiracies, not because they feel inadequate, because - in part - they are conditioned by movies and - in part - because conspiracies are exciting. These individuals will generally grow out of this. Their progress can be hastened by how we treat them on this forum.
    Last edited by John Galt; April 17th, 2012 at 05:36 AM. Reason: their for there
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    There is, I think, a sub-category of the younger poster - teens into early twenties - who is fascinated by the original, the different, the amazing. They may enjoy science fiction. They are attracted to the idea that there may be conspiracies, not because they feel inadequate, because - in part - they are conditioned by movies and - in part - because conspiracies are exciting. These individuals will generally grow out of this. There progress can be hastened by how we treat them on this forum.
    Personally i'd think it's related to education more than age, conceitedly being young implies that you haven't had the time to learn as much people that are older than you but i wouldn't rule out the possibility of there being individuals of older age who argue on topics they lack a thorough understanding of. Of course how you argue a point is just as important as the validity of the point itself and many of the "nutters" seem to be unable to construct a well thought out response. (Not to imply that the people on the other side of the padded wall are better at it by default)
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    Good points in the above two posts. It is just sometimes a bit difficult to distinguish them from each other. Quite a few people in the second parts of their lives have come here with all sorts of unusual convictions and with poor baloney detection kits.

    Hopefully one day critical thinking skills will be a required course at public schools, along with the usual.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What is it about science that seems to attract certain people with a less than adequate grip on reality?
    Do you mean, me?
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  13. #12  
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    Because people that feel inadequate intellectually can come here and use faux intellect to feel better about themselves, hoping that people that are actually smart dont call them on their bullshit.
    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens
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  14. #13  
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    You guys may be overlooking the simple answer here, there are probably two major categories of people who want to join a science forum, those who enjoy scientific discussions and don't have many close friends to talk about it with and those who want to learn more about science for any number of reasons. Among the second category (arguably the larger category) there are of course going to be those who handle their ignorance in a level headed and open manner (like me) and those who over-compensate. Asking for knowledge and feinting knowledge are both manifestations of a quest for knowledge, the difference is how quickly and easily you accept your discoveries, at least that's what I imagine is the difference.
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  15. #14  
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    It ain't just science. There's plenty of fruitcakery in areas like history and economics and politics and art. There's one legendary obsessive in Britain who concentrates entirely and only on her notions of phonics and changing English spelling.

    There are very few signposts on the roads leading to Upper Crackpottery. Some people avidly seek them out and get there speedily and live there comfortably forever. Some find ourselves gobsmacked to have landed up in such a place because we failed to notice those few signposts and we skedaddle as soon as possible. Others can't deal with the heirarchy in Upper Crackpottery and set up their own outposts - like Lesser Nutcaseville and Superior Perpetual Motionham. And watch out for those potholed tracks taking the unwary to backwaters like Iron Sunton or Quantum Centrifugal Vibrationum.
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    I like the locations analogy, it amused me, and you have a valid point, it's not just science it's every field whether intellectual, physical, or generally well perceived by most people. Perhaps it's a way for them to feel good about their lives and accomplishments without having to go through the grueling process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information, or else physically exerting one's self, etc...
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  17. #16  
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    I suppose people who are drawn to science have an insatiable curiosity that will eventually provoke questions that reading alone do not solve and so join a science forum to find answers or merely become spectators. Even if fevered debate isn't as appealing, reading debates pique curiosity which leads to learning. However, joining or contributing to any forum or site is usually experienced as being completely anonymous and objective without emotives or hostility. One could be considered a delusional nutter if they suspect discussions are directed toward them personally as you do not expect convo's to contain such. I guess it just goes to prove, curiosity killed the cat.
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  18. #17  
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    And here we are again, wading through woo.
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  19. #18  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Today's xkcd is a perfect analogy for the sort of damaged thinking we have seen recently (especially the mousover text)
    xkcd: Think Logically
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    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  20. #19  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    ^^^ Perfect.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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  21. #20  
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    Seems like its aether season right now. How long will we have to wait before electric universe season?
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    I was just wondering that myself.
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  23. #22  
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    It seems like a lot of people want to validate their lunacy through proven science. They come up with this idea that, for instance, dark matter acts to push down upon us and gravity is a lie, then they seek out actual science that their addled brain can't quite grasp. Putting the proverbial horse before the cart.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  24. #23  
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    Seems like its aether season right now. How long will we have to wait before electric universe season?
    You never know. There might be mysterious rules about whether the iron sun or centrifugal force get priority or have to wait their turn.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  25. #24  
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    Heheh. I had forgotten about the iron sun Don't we only get that one in a leap year?
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    Heheh. I had forgotten about the iron sun Don't we only get that one in a leap year?
    Iron sun ? What is that about ?? Do I want to know ?
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  27. #26  
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    The iron sun. Sorry, I've introduced you to something deeply horrible - unfortunately its most well-known proponent is also a deeply awful man.

    His version of the theory is clearly "explained" here. The Sun is a ball of Iron!
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  28. #27  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    And life is just a bowl of cherries.
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  29. #28  
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    Maybe people go to science forums because they hope to see their thoughts (which then nurtured their entire lives) to be confirmed as truth. And Science seems to irrevocably no the difference between truth and non truth. The problem is, that people cannot accept a negative response to their nurtured thoughts?
    In the information age ignorance is a choice.
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  30. #29  
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    I need to take a break. This place is being DELUGED by nutters and I am too tired to bother trying to address all their inane and insane utterances.

    For most of these people it is like the past 100 of science never existed, and I am sick of re-explaining what they should already know before deciding to come up with their own ideas.
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  31. #30  
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    A science forum gives them an outlet they normally wouldn't have in real life. Any confirmation of their crazy theories is good for their ego. Woo...like war, can serve a useful purpose. If someone presents a bat-shit crazy idea, and you know they are wrong, but have to look up the data to disprove them, you may inadvertently learn something new....or someone reading your post may learn something new...which is the goal of any science forum.

    Plus it's fun to poke retards with sticks.
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  32. #31  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    I need to take a break. This place is being DELUGED by nutters and I am too tired to bother trying to address all their inane and insane utterances
    I can't say I blame you. But I hope you come back; we need people with your expertise.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  33. #32  
    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    Heh, thanks and don't worry, I just need to take a break but I will be back.
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    I need to take a break. This place is being DELUGED by nutters and I am too tired to bother trying to address all their inane and insane utterances.
    Yeah, I am starting to feel the same way. Perhaps I should simply refrain from jousting with cranks, and just concentrate on the serious discussions. At least a break would be nice...I have to think about that.
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  35. #34  
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    A break is a good idea in my experience.

    I had to take a break recently, not because of all the crackpots like myself. just because too much intelectual thought and contamination from outside sources isn't hurts my little mind and endangers what sanity I have.

    From a scientific perspective... Have you compared the ratio of crackpottery in broader society with the ratio on science websites?
    I suspect the science forum would compare favourably.

    It's just that in the real world people have learnt to not express there insanity so boldly... either becuase nobody will listen or because we are scared of a confrontation, or it's consequences.

    This is a place were people are free to express whatever they like (or so we believe) and others are free to argue, without fear of true insanity rearing it's ugly head... Its bassically a theraputic encouter group... Sometimes the social workers need a little break from it all.
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    It's just that in the real world people have learnt to not express there insanity so boldly...
    Ha ha That's a good way of putting it
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  37. #36  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    As much as I admire SpeedFreek, the fact remains that no one is immune from nuttery. I could have a room full of scientists that all disagree on a point of established science. Which one is not a nutjob for thinking the way they do? I think the key is the phrase 'established science' which by its very term implies we should expect it to change because it had to change to get to 'established'. If you solely believe in the truth about established science then are you not putting one foot or at least a toe within the nutter circle? Personally I can accept the current library of scientific knowledge but I go in with an open mind knowing full well it could change in a heartbeat.

    If Einstein had originally postulated his relativity theory on this forum I wonder what the reception would have been? We all know that not every scientist in the world at the time could grasp what he was talking about or accepted it but.....were they nutters? Whatever scientists tell us on this forum is open to scrutiny and no doubt that 50 years from now if you tried to espouse today's scientific knowledge or beliefs on an open forum then you will be castigated like the very nutters you claim are rampaging through this forum. Is there a difference between a nutter displaying their theories or points of view and the acceptance of established science as gospel?

    The science forum is an anonymous entity. You never know if the nutter may be a genuine scientist testing those supposedly in the know or just a crazy idiot. There is no way of telling 100%. NO WAY! Unless they use their given names a la Peter Moore it can't be done with certainty. It is quite possible that top scientists come on here and throw out seemingly outrageous thoughts only because they can't do it publicly or within their own scientific community amongst their peers. No one can possibly be absolutely certain as to whether or not the poster is certifiably nuts or just pretending. I can see by the responses that most people are guessing at the motives or mental capacities of posters. It's an unfortunate consequence of anonymous internet forums, especially when their title is member specific, that there is no way to discern. Perhaps a science forum open directly to scientists who use their own name and identify their discipline might work. Until then you take your chances.

    Oh, I believe in the existence of nutters.
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    If Einstein had originally postulated his relativity theory on this forum I wonder what the reception would have been?
    The initial reception would likely have been rather frosty. Lucky he was smart enough to use the proper channels
    But then again - Einstein had the maths to back up his claims, and he was in a position to make real quantifiable predictions, which could be tested against observation and turned out to be true. That's the difference between science and crackpottery.

    Perhaps a science forum open directly to scientists who use their own name and identify their discipline might work. Until then you take your chances.
    True.
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  39. #38  
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    Speaking of Science, is there really more people with divergent view about reality here than on other sites, or is it just more apparent? Also consider that anyone posting on a "Game of Thrones" or "Dallas Cowboys" forum is probably not expressing his views on reality to the same extent. Im not sure people attracted to science forums are more delusional than people on other sites, Im willing to reconsider with statistics to this effect or observations I may have missed. A creationist forum would probably not be much better imo. Also I have a feeling that a German language forum about science might have less creationists than an English forum for example, and that an Arabic language forum about science might have its share of gems. Im reminded of talking with students about a comet's tail generally being away from the sun, everybody laughed saying of course not the comet's tail is like the exhaust of a rocket (I wish I was making this up), but the rocket exhaust theory would probably not fly on a science forum, but on an American Idol forum maybe it would be greeted with an ~of course everyone knows that~ (Im exaggerating a bit here but you get the idea).
    Last edited by icewendigo; November 2nd, 2012 at 12:17 PM.
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  40. #39  
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    Speaking of Science, is there really more people with divergent view about reality here than on other sites, or is it just more apparent?
    It's a pretty similar story on most amateur science forums, I'm afraid.
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  41. #40  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    If Einstein had originally postulated his relativity theory on this forum I wonder what the reception would have been?
    The initial reception would likely have been rather frosty. Lucky he was smart enough to use the proper channels
    But then again - Einstein had the maths to back up his claims, and he was in a position to make real quantifiable predictions, which could be tested against observation and turned out to be true. That's the difference between science and crackpottery.
    Still, at the time, some very learned people could not accept it. Did that mean they thought Einstein was nuts? And how about the table turning when eventually those established scientists in opposition were proven wrong. Were they then crackpots? Imagine being labeled a crackpot after years of being an authority on a matter of science. That has to be a stunner.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  42. #41  
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    Sorry to see you go Speedfreak (and hope you read this). We try to find the right balance between allowing enough interesting or mistaken views which makes for fun conversation and learning or a white walls, anteseptic and boring place where not much happens. Sometimes we get that wrong. For my part, I'm consciously aware and apply a difference standard, depending on what part of the forum; those in the hard-science parts get more scrutiny than the softer ones--pseuo gets hardly any beyond moderating the worse flame wars.

    One way to do this is shuttleling the nutter conversations into pseudoscience or if really bad directly into the trash. Perhaps we should just close trashcan treads to discourage people; would that help? Member reporting is an excellent tool to highlight conversations in the wrong place as well. I think members are doing an excellent job of point out spam but perhaps not so good job as pointed to conversations in the wrong place.

    As also, we want feedback to make this place better.
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  43. #42  
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    Having read zinjanthropos reply, I need to clarify something.

    It is known as the correspondence principle.

    All new theories have to be able to explain the results of experiments we have already made. It is only the crackpots who do not seem to know this, hence my reference to it being like the past 100 years of science never existed.

    My problem is that I am not prepared to go through the whole history of scientific developments that lead to the current consensus view (how we stand upon the shoulders of giants), each time someone is challenging that view.

    I am not prepared to explain, over and over again, why we think that the speed of light is isotropic, or why cosmological redshifts mean the universe is expanding and cannot be explained by "tired light", or that quantum entanglement CANNOT equate to instantaneous communication, or how instantaneous communication INEVITABLY violates causality, or how perpetual motion violates the laws of thermodynamics, or how time-dilation (and therefore length contraction) is as real as anything else, or how Einstein's "gravitational aether" is the curvature of space-time as without curvature there is nothing to reference anything against at all.

    We hardly ever get any decent discussions in the physics or astronomy and cosmology forums without the fruit loops wading in, and frankly it is doing my brain in. There ARE new directions in which these discussions might go, insights into the cutting edge of scientific discovery, but we never get to them because we have to wade through a torrent of anti-relativists and people who simply cannot believe what science has already shown us over the past century or so.

    So I need a break from replying to these fruit loops, perhaps, in order not to become one myself.

    I'm not leaving for good or anything, but I am taking a break from replying to nutters.
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  44. #43  
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    Perhaps speedfreak we should be moving more post rather than entire threads to pseu or trash? Would that help?
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  45. #44  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Look after #1 SpeedFreek.

    I'm thinking that if the forum lasts for the next 100 years then future generations can look back and say there was at least one member who stood up for what he believed in or.......they might just label you as nuts. So scientific nuttery as you can see is a contemporary thing that runs alongside scientific genius until they collide somewhere down the road.

    Good luck in your endeavours during your self-imposed exile.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    speedfreek, i don't know where you intend to spend your time on line, but you're always welcome to come back to the .org site, even though it's a bit quiet from time to time - you might even make it somewhat less quiet
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Lynx_Fox, I'm not sure what would help, actually. The moderators would have a nightmare of a job trying to sift the wheat from the chaff, and in some cases (like farsight, for instance) there can be whole tracts of seemingly valid statements interspersed with only a few "wrongnesses", but those "wrongnesses" can damage the whole conversation. I wouldn't want that job for all the money in the world, let alone to do it for love.

    Part of the problem is that there aren't enough people on here with the expertise required to make these distinctions. I myself can only spot these problems within a very limited domain of applicability (Special Relativity, parts of mainstream cosmology and even smaller parts of General Relativity), and even then I only know part of the story. We need the scientific rigour of people like DrRocket, who left here because the rules weren't strict enough, but has since left (or was pushed from) the "other" scienceforum.org due to similar reasons - he was being too rude to the cranks!

    The truth of the matter is that "hard science" forums with strict rules are pretty quiet places in comparison to sites like this, and are considered to be "elitist". If we want our site to be popular, we have to put up with the results of science popularization.

    I'm not helping much, I know. I don't think we necessarily need to apply different policies, we just need more experts to deflect the woo!
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    speedfreek, i don't know where you intend to spend your time on line, but you're always welcome to come back to the .org site, even though it's a bit quiet from time to time - you might even make it somewhat less quiet
    I may post a bit over there if an interesting discussion comes up (I'm not one for starting discussions, which is perhaps a failing on my part - I think THIS thread is the only one I ever started here!), but I'll probably just lurk around here for a while, and try to avoid engaging with the tin-foil hat brigade too often, as it isn't good for my mental health. I will continue to post here, but will be more discerning in where I do so.

    And as always, I can be found at the BAUT forum (Bad Astronomy and the Universe Today - where they really do take no prisoners!), although it has been renamed cosmoquest.org
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    I think as moderators we could do a more extensive job of confining the nutters to appropriate sub-fora. We would not catch everything, but we would improve over the present situation.

    That said, I derive much of my satisfaction from dealing with 'the nutters'. As a consequence of dealing with creationists over the last several years on several forums my own understanding of evolution has improved immensely. I also have a vastly better (I mean fifty to a hundred times more knowledge) grasp of the history of evolutionary thought. I would never have done the study necessary to acquire that knowledge without the nutters. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    we're all often guilty of following the royal road to knowledge - that is, we accept the status quo or the authoritative voice of the expert - until challenged by people who have an axe to grind with the concepts you hold dearly
    it's only then that we start looking at the evidence more closely, and find out why the concepts we took on faith actually make sense
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    As a consequence of dealing with creationists over the last several years on several forums my own understanding of evolution has improved immensely.
    Surely you meant Biblical literalists John? If not what kind of creationist ideas are you talking about?
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  52. #51  
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    aren't they one and the same ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  53. #52  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    My problem is that I am not prepared to go through the whole history of scientific developments that lead to the current consensus view (how we stand upon the shoulders of giants), each time someone is challenging that view.

    I am not prepared to explain, over and over again, why we think that the speed of light is isotropic, or why cosmological redshifts mean the universe is expanding and cannot be explained by "tired light", or that quantum entanglement CANNOT equate to instantaneous communication, or how instantaneous communication INEVITABLY violates causality, or how perpetual motion violates the laws of thermodynamics, or how time-dilation (and therefore length contraction) is as real as anything else, or how Einstein's "gravitational aether" is the curvature of space-time as without curvature there is nothing to reference anything against at all.

    We hardly ever get any decent discussions in the physics or astronomy and cosmology forums without the fruit loops wading in, and frankly it is doing my brain in. There ARE new directions in which these discussions might go, insights into the cutting edge of scientific discovery, but we never get to them because we have to wade through a torrent of anti-relativists and people who simply cannot believe what science has already shown us over the past century or so.
    I must say that I very much share SpeedFreek's sentiments on this matter. It is just really tiresome to have the same old chestnuts popping up over and over again - anti-relativity, aether, push gravity, time not being a dimension etc etc. It seems all we are doing here is battling crackpots up to the point of them being banned, or them abandoning the thread.

    Perhaps speedfreak we should be moving more post rather than entire threads to pseu or trash? Would that help?
    It would be a good start, I would welcome that.

    I think as moderators we could do a more extensive job of confining the nutters to appropriate sub-fora.
    Yes, I also think that is needed.

    I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
    Maybe so, but still - it just becomes tiresome having the same discussions over and over again.
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    The moderators would have a nightmare of a job trying to sift the wheat from the chaff,

    Yes we'd need help--mostly by reporting the post that are interrupting the good conversations.


    I also agree we need more expertise but no of DRROCKET's type. Not to rant, but I couldn't stand him (and fired several warning shots as an early moderator) because while he was absolutely rock solid in math and physics, he was almost always rude, seldom if ever put on a teaching hat, and was just as assertive and badly overconfident in areas where he was rather weak and often completely wrong--such as about climate, meteorology, astronomy etc. He reminded me of a tenured professor who's ego and tyranny would stifle questions, deliberately fail most folks on the first test and laugh about it, or simple encourage people to avoid his class altogether. We don't need people like that.

    The truth of the matter is that "hard science" forums with strict rules are pretty quiet places in comparison to sites like this, and are considered to be "elitist". If we want our site to be popular, we have to put up with the results of science popularization.

    I agree.

    I'm not helping much, I know.

    Actually you are--I take loosing active good contributing members such as yourself sort of like a canary in the coal mine. If you and others start reporting the crack pot post, I'll ramp up moving them; I think the other mods would do the same. The goal would be keep the mainstream science threads better focused. I do gently ask though, to please no get too rapped around the handle by the pseu conversations--they're expected to be a bit crazy :-)
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  55. #54  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    ... but no of DRROCKET's type. Not to rant, but I couldn't stand him (and fired several warning shots as an early moderator) because while he was absolutely rock solid in math and physics, he was almost always rude, seldom if ever put on a teaching hat, and was just as assertive and badly overconfident in areas where he was rather weak and often completely wrong--such as about climate, meteorology, astronomy etc. He reminded me of a tenured professor who's ego and tyranny would stifle questions, deliberately fail most folks on the first test and laugh about it, or simple encourage people to avoid his class altogether. We don't need people like that.
    amen to that - which goes to show that the first aim of a science forum should be to enlighten and educate by power of reason and education, not by force of personality
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  56. #55  
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    Hey, I liked the Doc. One of the most recognizable internet personae in modern day forum history. I was always hopeful of someone taking him on the same way he operated. Would have been great entertainment. The Don Rickles of science.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    not sure about that - had a time at the .org site where spuriousmonkey as a biologist was being lectured about evolution, and i as a metallurgist on the strength of steel structures
    it was not an edifying sight
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  58. #57  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The moderators would have a nightmare of a job trying to sift the wheat from the chaff,

    Yes we'd need help--mostly by reporting the post that are interrupting the good conversations.

    I have been doing that quite often recently, but I don't want to get too trigger happy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I also agree we need more expertise but no of DRROCKET's type. Not to rant, but I couldn't stand him (and fired several warning shots as an early moderator) because while he was absolutely rock solid in math and physics, he was almost always rude, seldom if ever put on a teaching hat, and was just as assertive and badly overconfident in areas where he was rather weak and often completely wrong--such as about climate, meteorology, astronomy etc. He reminded me of a tenured professor who's ego and tyranny would stifle questions, deliberately fail most folks on the first test and laugh about it, or simple encourage people to avoid his class altogether. We don't need people like that.
    I do understand, and I suppose I have to agree. I was lucky enough to only really deal in physics with the Doc (my inane dabblings in higher maths were justifiably squished! I can still only just about manage simple SR problems), but he was never rude to me, probably because in my small way I was helping him in his quest to learn about cosmology and how it related to physics and mathematics. When I first met him online, it was him asking me the questions!

    He had an expertise in physics and mathematics that we rarely see in a discussion forum, and we do need more of that sort of thing, but perhaps in a more user-friendly form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I take loosing active good contributing members such as yourself sort of like a canary in the coal mine.

    I'm not leaving, but I am going to try to post with less frequency but better quality. I can't just go cold-turkey, however much I think I should! I was basically throwing an online tantrum in my frustration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    If you and others start reporting the crack pot post, I'll ramp up moving them; I think the other mods would do the same. The goal would be keep the mainstream science threads better focused. I do gently ask though, to please no get too rapped around the handle by the pseu conversations--they're expected to be a bit crazy :-)
    Yes, that is my problem. I think I might be a little Asperger about things (to which a few people I know in real life will say "Duh.. you think?").
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  59. #58  
    Cooking Something Good MacGyver1968's Avatar
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    but I am going to try to post with less frequency but better quality
    To make up for this...I will post with more frequency but lesser quality.
    Fixin' shit that ain't broke.
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  60. #59  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    To make up for this...I will post with more frequency but lesser quality.
    Will we be able to tell.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  61. #60  
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    The bar only goes so low.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    since MacGyver's username reads "MacGyver1968", and since he's so far posted 568 posts, that must imply that there's still another 1400 in the pipeline
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  63. #62  
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    Speaking of lowing the bar...anyone watch "Here comes Honey Boo Boo"? Critics have awarded the program the title of "Show most likely to awaken Ctululu from his ancient slumber".

    How's that for a low quality post?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Even reading the Wikipedia page about it has left me with the feeling that unspeakable things are crawling over me...
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  65. #64  
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    pffft - who's this Ctululu anyway ? if he 's not a member, then he can't touch this forum
    otherwise he'll be banned if he doesn't behave
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  66. #65  
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    OK...back to the OP.

    I feel speed's pain. A few years ago, I became interested in what makes people believe in wild conspiracy theories...and why when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they still hold on to their beliefs. I spent many an hour debating 9/11 truthers, moon hoaxers et al. I've found that pretty much all that is left of the 9/11 truth "movement" are the genuinely mentally ill....People who suffer from various paranoid disorders that manifest their symptoms in the form of delusions of all powerful entities out to get us all. I realized that there was no longer any point to debating them, since they were completely logic-proof.

    I have since moved on, and rarely discuss the topics anymore.
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  67. #66  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    "Show most likely to awaken Ctululu from his ancient slumber".
    Now you've mentioned him, I think it is time to post the Cthulhu paper:
    [1210.8144] Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific

    Some background:
    Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn | The Titanium Physicists Podcast

    Enjoy!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    OK...back to the OP.

    I feel speed's pain. A few years ago, I became interested in what makes people believe in wild conspiracy theories...and why when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they still hold on to their beliefs. I spent many an hour debating 9/11 truthers, moon hoaxers et al.
    I used to do a lot of that too.. the moon hoax crowd seems to have died down a bit since we put LRO in orbit and took photos of the landing sites, but I am now waiting for the Concorde deniers to start coming out of the woodwork (lurkers, don't get any ideas!) and am wondering how long before we have Baumgarnter denialists!
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    obviously we're having a problem here : you're referring to the "Cthulhu paper", whereas i was clearly referring to "Ctululu" - totally different thing ! care to explain yourself ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  70. #69  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    aren't they one and the same ?
    ?
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    I was talking about this guy:



    If you look closely, you can see Honey Boo Boo eating 'sgetti and butter in the corner of the shot.
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    I think one thing that could help is to let the crackpot threads die a natural death. Once a thread has been moved to pseudo or trash, and the crackpot theories have been rebutted a couple or three times, there's no point in going on. The crackpot will not change, and anyone with any sense will have already seen the arguments and come to a reasonable conclusion.

    Yes, the moderators could lock the thread, but that goes against my grain. I don't like to just shut people up if they think they have something to say.
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  73. #72  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    I was talking about this guy:



    If you look closely, you can see Honey Boo Boo eating 'sgetti and butter in the corner of the shot.
    Yup. That's the guy I was talking about too.
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    I think that's good advise Harold...many woo woo's are just attention whores. Those members that are knowledgable of the subject should post the correct information, so the laymen of the board can learn why this is woo, or answer the questions of any lurkers...but then after that, let it die.
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  75. #74  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I think one thing that could help is to let the crackpot threads die a natural death. Once a thread has been moved to pseudo or trash, and the crackpot theories have been rebutted a couple or three times, there's no point in going on. The crackpot will not change, and anyone with any sense will have already seen the arguments and come to a reasonable conclusion.

    Yes, the moderators could lock the thread, but that goes against my grain. I don't like to just shut people up if they think they have something to say.
    Wow. Interesting concept there!
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    Quick question mods....I accidentally hotlinked that picture of the Destructor. What is this boards policy on that? Some boards allow it...others, it's an actionable offense. I usually just save the image and host it myself on Dropbox.
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  77. #76  
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    I've found most of the boards that don't allow it tend to have software that gets the heebie-jeebies with such things.

    Sometimes it's just policy or a preference for how the pages look.
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  78. #77  
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    Well...and it's also stealing bandwidth from the donor site. I'll just continue hosting my own pics to be safe.
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  79. #78  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    Quick question mods....I accidentally hotlinked that picture of the Destructor. What is this boards policy on that? Some boards allow it...others, it's an actionable offense.
    You must visit some very strange boards if they have policies against hotlinking pictures of the Destructor!

    I am beginning to see some possible reasons for the OP now.
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    I am sorry, I have been scarce the last few days. Please feel free to report posts as you see fit. I too am committed to upping the general quality of the forum. I care about this forum and don't want it to turn into a woo fest. We can work better towards keeping the main sections cleaner.

    I am sincerely grateful for people like Strange, SpeedFreek, Markus Hanke etc who put such considerable effort into fighting woo and providing the forum with edifying posts on a regular basis. I learn a lot from people like you and I know that large numbers of others do too. You guys make a forum like this worth while and a gratifying experience. If I had the money, I'd bloody well pay you a salary for the service you provide (not implying anything Admin!)!
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  81. #80  
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    I'm a member of JREF...no hotlinking allowed.
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  82. #81  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What is it about science that seems to attract certain people with a less than adequate grip on reality?
    It is because whether they like it or not most people see science as truth, be it they understand it or not. Religious people or other nutters, they all turn to science to hijack it so that it "works" to their means. That is why a lot of religious nutcases are running "scientific" programs, museums etc. to try to get science "on board".
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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    Ahh....Lovecraft. Haven't read his stuff for decades.

    Members can always PM a mod and ask if it's alright to post something. I had to look up Honey Boo boo--but still don't see her in the picture.

    --
    Harold I definitely agree with locking the trashcan, or doing it automatically a few days after it gets moved. I kind of feel link you about locking the pseu threads, don't care for the idea much, but also agree it might encourage the crackpots to move along if we closed them as well after few parting comments.
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    What pyoko said might be part of the problem, but I don't think religion can be singled out as major cause of woo in comparison to anything else. And, of course, whilst there are "religious nutjobs" out there (like young earth creationists, for instance), they represent a minority of religious folk.

    We seem to have more problems with people who think they "know more science", or have their own alternative theories, than with people trying to bend science to fit their particular religious views, although that does indeed come up sometimes.
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    I had to look up Honey Boo boo--but still don't see her in the picture.
    It was a joke....she's not really in the picture...but she makes the bringer of death and destruction mad as hell.

    Ok...for my friends across the pond, or others that are unaware....The network TLC (formerly The Learning Channel, but no learning occurs there anymore) has a show about child beauty pageants called "Toddlers and Tiaras" One of the stars of that show...a 7 year old from Kentucky, has been given her own spin off show. Many people are claiming it is a sign of the impending apocalypse. It follows a fat redneck family, and lets everyone laugh at how redneck and uncouth they are. Hell...the mother farts in the opening credits. It's so awful, Southpark has already parodied it.
    Fixin' shit that ain't broke.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What pyoko said might be part of the problem, but I don't think religion can be singled out as major cause of woo in comparison to anything else. And, of course, whilst there are "religious nutjobs" out there (like young earth creationists, for instance), they represent a minority of religious folk.

    We seem to have more problems with people who think they "know more science", or have their own alternative theories, than with people trying to bend science to fit their particular religious views, although that does indeed come up sometimes.
    Religious nutjobs and other nutters; I should have been clear that "other nutters" were the ones you mention - the ones centered on their own interpretation of science. I was not singling out religious nutjobs, but I really meant to encompass both.

    On a side note, you say that you don't think religion can be singled out as a major cause of woo. I say it can. Not the major cause, perhaps. But most definitely a major cause.
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    I have been on this forum for only just over a year now, so despite my 3000+ posts I still consider myself a newcomer, hence I have thus far been careful about giving opinions. Nonetheless the time may have come now to give my two cents worths.

    First and foremost, let me say just that - this is a wonderful platform, and I have nothing but praise for how it is administered, moderated and generally looked after. I feel welcome here, I feel accepted, and I feel like I am part of a small community, of my very own little corner of the Interwebz. Most of all, I feel like I can make a real, worthwhile contribution here, in that I can pass some of my ( sadly woefully incomplete ) knowledge to other members who come here to ask questions and learn. That is probably the most rewarding of all experiences - being able to help someone further his/her understanding, being able to witness someone's "aha" moment. In modern day society knowledge and understanding are very underrated, yet in my mind they are the most precious assets an individual, and by extension a society, can possibly possess. In short - I am happy here.

    As for constructive criticism, I think we need to sometimes remind ourselves of the name of this place : The Science Forum. And that is exactly what it should be about : science. I understand that this is a delicate and difficult balancing act, but I feel that on occasion this forum is too lenient with people who are obvious cranks, and who are here only to boost their egos. I think we should be a little more decisive when it comes to moving the cranks out of the mainstream forums and into pseudo or trash, and even there a little less leniency wouldn't go amiss. Example : can you recall the member "Motor Daddy" ? His thread was moved to pseudo quick enough, but I wonder, was it really necessary to let the thread swell to 500+ posts, most of which was just mindless repetition ? In my honest opinion that nonsense should have been locked much earlier, or at least trashed. Another example would be the ( rather recent ) user Reaction, who is clearly a sock puppet of another account, Michael Turner. Why is this allowed to continue ? To my understanding sock puppets are against forum rules.

    Overall, this is an excellent forum, and having come across and joined this site is one of the best things that have happened to me. I enjoy being here. My only criticism would be that we are a little too lenient, so perhaps this is something the mods and admins could discuss in the mod section. This is not a democracy, it's a science forum, so let's not be afraid to call the cranks and crackpots, and move them on to where they belong - pseudo, trash or the ban list.
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    I'm really happy with that idea Markus.

    After all, everyone should realise that movements of threads aren't one way. If something is moved to pseudo or trash and it turns out that physics or electronics is the rightful home, it can be moved again to there. There are no limits on moderator actions - if we need half a dozen movements or splits or subthreads to get to the right place, we can do that.
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    Hah! Speaking of nutters, I just found this.

    It's about climate discussions, but a couple of the examples apply to just about any science(y) topic. (If you've not participated in the climate wars on-line then some of these will be 'in'-jokes you might not get, but the rest are good fun regardless.)

    Climate Trolls – An Illustrated Bestiary – A Few Things Ill Considered
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    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    I don't have anything very constructive to add. But I do think the idea of locking threads when (or shortly after) they are moved to Trash would be a good idea. It would stop those of use who just can't resist "poking the troll"

    We probably don't want to go as far as BAUT and have a 30 day limit on all pseudoscience threads. But when they are clearly going no where it may be a good idea to lock them. Perhaps this requires us all to be a little more active in reporting such threads.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    There are no limits on moderator actions
    OMG! I didn't realise. I have been good. Honest.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What pyoko said might be part of the problem, but I don't think religion can be singled out as major cause of woo in comparison to anything else. And, of course, whilst there are "religious nutjobs" out there (like young earth creationists, for instance), they represent a minority of religious folk.

    We seem to have more problems with people who think they "know more science", or have their own alternative theories, than with people trying to bend science to fit their particular religious views, although that does indeed come up sometimes.
    Religious nutjobs and other nutters; I should have been clear that "other nutters" were the ones you mention - the ones centered on their own interpretation of science. I was not singling out religious nutjobs, but I really meant to encompass both.

    On a side note, you say that you don't think religion can be singled out as a major cause of woo. I say it can. Not the major cause, perhaps. But most definitely a major cause.
    Well, what you said was "religious people or other nutters", which kind of implies that all religious people are nutters. Even I, as a fully confirmed atheist, don't think that. Misguided, perhaps.
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    still, we must careful that we don't fall in the avenger trap : "Like a trap door spider, this creature is always waiting to pounce and when they do, it is sudden and ferocious. Their target is anyone who makes any statement that questions established peer reviewed literature and they live to defend solid science and the scientific method. Though they are primarily a very effective counter to the other creatures always attacking reality, it is all too easy for sincere and innocent participants to find themselves confronted, judged and sentenced to the same fate one might only wish on the likes of Marc Morano and Steve Milloy."
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  93. #92  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I'm really happy with that idea Markus.

    After all, everyone should realise that movements of threads aren't one way. If something is moved to pseudo or trash and it turns out that physics or electronics is the rightful home, it can be moved again to there. There are no limits on moderator actions - if we need half a dozen movements or splits or subthreads to get to the right place, we can do that.
    I think the other thing that is needed to be effective with this is a slight increase in manpower. Perhaps we need a few more moderators, or perhaps one could even create a new position ( "Scientific Advisor" or something like that ), with powers similar to that of a moderator, but restricted to just one specific sub forum. I don't know what the answer is, just thinking aloud here...
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    Quote Originally Posted by wifi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What is it about science that seems to attract certain people with a less than adequate grip on reality?
    Do you mean, me?
    If you have to ask.
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  95. #94  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wifi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    What is it about science that seems to attract certain people with a less than adequate grip on reality?
    Do you mean, me?
    Actually no, I didn't mean you in particular.
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  96. #95  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sciwiz View Post
    You guys may be overlooking the simple answer here, there are probably two major categories of people who want to join a science forum, those who enjoy scientific discussions and don't have many close friends to talk about it with and those who want to learn more about science for any number of reasons. Among the second category (arguably the larger category) there are of course going to be those who handle their ignorance in a level headed and open manner (like me) and those who over-compensate. Asking for knowledge and feinting knowledge are both manifestations of a quest for knowledge, the difference is how quickly and easily you accept your discoveries, at least that's what I imagine is the difference.
    That may be true, However what about the self appointed (forum police)? These are sometimes people of knowledge who are bored with normal forum chatter and have a strong need to keep the forum safe for the consensus minded people. Unfortunately they usually sweep up more than just the nutters and in doing so they become ordinary forum bullies and thugs that ruin many a good topic with their diligence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I'm really happy with that idea Markus.

    After all, everyone should realise that movements of threads aren't one way. If something is moved to pseudo or trash and it turns out that physics or electronics is the rightful home, it can be moved again to there. There are no limits on moderator actions - if we need half a dozen movements or splits or subthreads to get to the right place, we can do that.
    I think the other thing that is needed to be effective with this is a slight increase in manpower. Perhaps we need a few more moderators, or perhaps one could even create a new position ( "Scientific Advisor" or something like that ), with powers similar to that of a moderator, but restricted to just one specific sub forum. I don't know what the answer is, just thinking aloud here...
    Any idea to contemplate is a restructuring of catergories might help the situation. Personally I often struggle to find a catergory that I feel the topic I wish to discuss fits into.

    To be honest when using the SF, I hardly ever look up a catergory to find a discussion that relates to a speific topic. I just see whats trending, I dont pay attention to the catergory it's in. I just go on whether the title sounds interesting.

    I think in cases where mods are exasperated by what they concieve as nutjobs... the sane answer is for the mod to state the current position of accepted science. State the problems that exist with the nutjobs ideas. Then, assuming the nutjob doesn't accept presented evidence against their position... walk away knowing that you did all you could be expected to do.

    After all... it is usually only the mods who keep these threads alive by insisting on talking sense into the percieved nutjob.

    I wouldn't want to think that the S.\F will turn into a place where obvious nonesense is given the light of day... but in many examples that is already the case.

    As long as there is one detailed comment from a mod then the users of the site have the opportunity to take note of the conformed to model.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    I need to take a break. This place is being DELUGED by nutters and I am too tired to bother trying to address all their inane and insane utterances.

    For most of these people it is like the past 100 of science never existed, and I am sick of re-explaining what they should already know before deciding to come up with their own ideas.
    You need a different way of interacting with the forum. Pick and choose your topics to be involved in and ignore the known nutters that may post in your topics of interest. If that means you don't have enough topics, spread yourself out on several other science forums and rather than just look for interesting topics, look for interesting posters. Every forum has a core of regulars and their moderators and administrators and there is always a couple of very impressive posters.

    In any event I really hate it when an impressive poster quits posting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    If Einstein had originally postulated his relativity theory on this forum I wonder what the reception would have been?
    The initial reception would likely have been rather frosty. Lucky he was smart enough to use the proper channels
    But then again - Einstein had the maths to back up his claims, and he was in a position to make real quantifiable predictions, which could be tested against observation and turned out to be true. That's the difference between science and crackpottery.

    Perhaps a science forum open directly to scientists who use their own name and identify their discipline might work. Until then you take your chances.
    True.
    Many scientists had to put themselves through hell before their ideas were accepted. How many very intelligent people with very good ideas simply are not willing to put themselves through that hell? There should be a better way, but damned if I can think of one.
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    Sensitivity towards people who come forward with ideas.

    There is no need to arrogantly declare something to be wrong or false... open mindedness would save a lot of the angst that people go through when trying to introduce a new concept to a bunch of people who are not advanced enough to understand it.

    'ok, this is your idear. It seems like it might be wrong to us based on what we already know, however we will look into it and store it along with the other possible conclusions.We will be sure to teach people who study this area about your idea alongside the other currently held ideas. In time your idea may be found to be correct. Thankyou so much for your hard work, it is much apreciated... even though it is not currently fully apreciated, here have some money as a gesture of our partial apreciation.'

    It's when people are scared of the consequences of an idea being true, that they arrogantly dismiss it and cause the author a lot of heart ache.
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Sensitivity towards people who come forward with ideas.

    There is no need to arrogantly declare something to be wrong or false... open mindedness would save a lot of the angst that people go through when trying to introduce a new concept to a bunch of people who are not advanced enough to understand it.
    I only "arrogantly" declare something to be wrong or false if it is wrong or false. Open mindedness to the wrong or false equates to welcoming stupidity.

    In most of these cases this is the correct solution. It isn't a case of their idea being so advanced that I cannot understand it, it is a case of their idea already having been proved wrong, due to other things we already know, or being incompatible with established and well tested principles.

    I am never going to reply to posts like that with:
    'ok, this is your idear. It seems like it might be wrong to us based on what we already know, however we will look into it and store it along with the other possible conclusions.We will be sure to teach people who study this area about your idea alongside the other currently held ideas. In time your idea may be found to be correct. Thankyou so much for your hard work, it is much apreciated... even though it is not currently fully apreciated, here have some money as a gesture of our partial apreciation.'
    as it would be giving a false impression of the situation, just to make the OP feel better. If their idea is wrong, it is wrong.

    For instance, if someone says their theory gives the same results as Newtonian gravity in situations we already know Newtonian gravity to be inaccurate, then their idea is wrong. Full stop. No argument. It has already been proven not to be the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    It's when people are scared of the consequences of an idea being true, that they arrogantly dismiss it and cause the author a lot of heart ache.
    Not true. Well, that hasn't happened yet in my case, as far as I know. If I haven't explained well enough why something is wrong, it is probably because it is too complicated to explain in simple terms.
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