DailyDirt: Crackpots Versus Real Scientists

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Over a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein published what would become his theory of special relativity, and since then, there have been quite a few experiments that support Einstein's ideas. That's the way science usually works. A theory hypothesis is proposed, and if it's deemed worthy enough, other people will actually try to test out the theory hypothesis and see if its predictions can be verified (and every worthy theory hypothesis needs to be able to predict something that isn't already known). As non-traditional scientific publishing becomes easier and more popular, though, the signal-to-noise for interesting ideas can get a bit difficult to discern. Luckily, there are still some folks willing to bear the burden of debunking extraordinary claims from an endless stream of nearly-good ideas. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
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Filed Under: abc conjecture, crowdsourcing, e8, grand unifying theory, gut, math, p=np, proof, science

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  1. icon
    Dirk Ruffly (profile), 14 May 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Einstein didn't publish a theory of relativity

    Forgive me my pedanticism, but you're using the word "theory" incorrectly, from a scientific perspective. In science, a hypothesis is published and IF the hypothesis withstands scrutiny (i.e. a lot of testing) and IF the hypothesis provides a generally acknowledged useful way to model physical phenomena (especially to predict additional behaviors not known when the hypothesis was proposed) THEN and ONLY THEN does a hypothesis become a theory.

    This is important! For example, when Creationists say "evolution is only a theory" they are almost right ... evolution is a fact that is explained by the Theory of Evolution (i.e. natural selection), which has withstood more than a century of close scrutiny and provides the best explanation of observed phenomena. Similarly, gravity is a fact that is explained by the Theory of Gravity, etc.

    I bring this up because scientists often assign a strict meaning to many words that most of us use quite loosely in daily conversation. We read of "legal theories" here, and watch detective shows where everyone has a "theory" about what happened. Scientific theories are a whole different critter, perhaps more akin to a "legal theory" that's made it all the way up to a unanimous validation by the Supreme Court.

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