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Old 11th December 2010, 06:13 PM   #241
Michael Mozina
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Originally Posted by Drachasor View Post
I see a bunch of bad points and no explanation for the uniformity of CBR....
How about this point...


Quote:
Alignment of CBR with the Local Supercluster
The largest angular scale components of the fluctuations(anisotropy) of the CBR are not random, but have a strong preferred orientation in the sky. The quadrupole and octopole power is concentrated on a ring around the sky and are essentially zero along a preferred axis. The direction of this axis is identical with the direction toward the Virgo cluster and lies exactly along the axis of the Local Supercluster filament of which our Galaxy is a part. This observation completely contradicts the Big Bang assumption that the CBR originated far from the local Supercluster and is, on the largest scale, isotropic without a preferred direction in space. (Big Bang theorists have implausibly labeled the coincidence of the preferred CBR direction and the direction to Virgo to be mere accident and have scrambled to produce new ad-hoc assumptions, including that the universe is finite only in one spatial direction, an assumption that entirely contradicts the assumptions of the inflationary model of the Big Bang, the only model generally accepted by Big Bang supporters.)
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:24 PM   #242
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So, Mr. Mann was a sock. Did anyone recognize him?

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=194600
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:32 PM   #243
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Originally Posted by D'rok View Post
So, Mr. Mann was a sock. Did anyone recognize him?

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=194600

That's the second EU/PC/electric Sun/solid surface of the Sun crackpot to get banned in just a few days. It might not help with any answers, but it certainly does add interest to the question, "Why is there so much crackpot physics?" What draws the trolls, the liars, and the idiots to jump into discussions on subjects where they are clearly unqualified?

(Or maybe there's a conspiracy to squelch the truth and it's only a matter of time before the next crackpot gets banned, too! )
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:44 PM   #244
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
That's the second EU/PC/electric Sun/solid surface of the Sun crackpot to get banned in just a few days. It might not help with any answers, but it certainly does add interest to the question, "Why is there so much crackpot physics?" What draws the trolls, the liars, and the idiots to jump into discussions on subjects where they are clearly unqualified?

(Or maybe there's a conspiracy to squelch the truth and it's only a matter of time before the next crackpot gets banned, too! )
Ah, I just noticed the tag on the ban notice. Arthur Mann was cev08241971.
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:51 PM   #245
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Wow. This whole thread is like some kind of time warp back to 05!
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:53 PM   #246
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Originally Posted by D'rok View Post
Ah, I just noticed the tag on the ban notice. Arthur Mann was cev08241971.

I amend my previous comment thusly...

Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
That's the second time a EU/PC/electric Sun/solid surface of the Sun crackpot to get has been banned in just a few days. It might not help with any answers, but it certainly does add interest to the question, "Why is there so much crackpot physics?" What draws the trolls, the liars, and the idiots to jump into discussions on subjects where they are clearly unqualified?
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:57 PM   #247
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Originally Posted by Arthur Mann View Post
Hope against fear, a brilliant tactic when you're trying to set somebody up.

I can answer the loaded question of the thread subject pretty succinctly. The reason there is so much "crackpot physics" is because the consensus view of what physics entails is demonstrably wrong, and there are so very few people like Michael and myself presenting actual physics.

If crackpots weren't in the majority of the population as a whole, and consistently holding majority opinions, there wouldn't be so much "crackpot physics".
So tell us. What is demonstrably wrong with physics ? I have a feeling this is going to be good.

Unfortunately Arthur has been banned. I guess we'll never know

Last edited by Steve001; 11th December 2010 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 11th December 2010, 06:59 PM   #248
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Originally Posted by D'rok View Post
Ah, I just noticed the tag on the ban notice. Arthur Mann was cev08241971.
I actually called him 'cev' in one post
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Old 11th December 2010, 07:00 PM   #249
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Old 11th December 2010, 07:13 PM   #250
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Originally Posted by Perpetual Student View Post
Why is there so much crackpot physics?
I don't know, but I'm sure it has something to do with quantum stuff.
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Old 11th December 2010, 07:31 PM   #251
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I did some poking around and came across this on http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/...?ARCHIVE=true&
concerning Michael Mozina.

Quote:
Actually, it was the RAW EIT video from SOHO that originally convinced me it was solid.
What he's referring to is the Sun.
The discussion starts with this site
http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/
Quote:
This visible neon plasma layer that we call the photosphere, and a thicker, more dense atmospheric layer composed of silicon plasma, entirely covers the actual rocky, calcium ferrite surface layer of the sun. The visible photosphere covers the actual surface of the sun, much as the earth's oceans cover most of the surface of the earth. In this case the sun's photosphere is very bright and we cannot see the darker, more rigid surface features below the photosphere without the aid of satellite technology
Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
So aren't you sort of proving my point that that educational background and/or one's credentials are pretty much irrelevant?
I guess doesn't matter when it comes to making up fanciful ideas.
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Old 11th December 2010, 07:55 PM   #252
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Originally Posted by LibraryLady View Post
It's easier than real physics.

I don't think LL got enough love for this the first time around. So, highlighted...
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Old 11th December 2010, 09:07 PM   #253
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Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
I did some poking around and came across this on http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/...?ARCHIVE=true&
concerning Michael Mozina.

What he's referring to is the Sun.
The discussion starts with this site
http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/


I guess doesn't matter when it comes to making up fanciful ideas.

Crackpots can appear oddly obsessive. That particular "campaign against legitimate science" has been going on for over half a decade, tens of thousands of posts on maybe a dozen or more forums, millions of words. Yes, millions of words. That SFN discussion went over 3,000 postings. Interestingly enough crackpots in general, physics crackpots in particular, may invest huge amounts of time and effort even when it proves near impossible to convince a single soul, certainly nobody who has a rudimentary understanding of physics and/or math. Read some of the "Against the Mainstream" threads on Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum for some real doozies.

So why does it seem crackpots are attracted to fantasy physics? Maybe LibraryLady hit the heart of the matter with...

Originally Posted by LibraryLady View Post
It's easier than real physics.
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Old 11th December 2010, 09:12 PM   #254
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
That's the second EU/PC/electric Sun/solid surface of the Sun crackpot to get banned in just a few days. It might not help with any answers, but it certainly does add interest to the question, "Why is there so much crackpot physics?" What draws the trolls, the liars, and the idiots to jump into discussions on subjects where they are clearly unqualified?
So you're saying that someone who doesn't have enough "professional" or academic qualification can't discuss such topics? I think that's a bit oppressive. However, coming in with less "qualifications" and then going and ripping down the whole house (which is what these guys try to do -- "NEWSFLASH! EVERYTHING you know about physics is WRONG!" etc.) is a different story.
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Old 11th December 2010, 09:13 PM   #255
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PS..... you funny!

Originally Posted by Perpetual Student View Post
I am curious: What do you suppose drives crackpot physics and cosmology?
Is complacent adherance exactly what a religious wingnut is all about? Well guess what, the majority are complacent to accept someone's side of the BS but few do the actual work. Each know, what they have and have not done.
Quote:
They do not seem to be very knowledgeable about physics and cosmology,
just like a physicist may not know much about neurology. Physicist are not always cosmologist. The best physicists are mathematicians while the best scientist are grounded to experimental evidence.

I crack up reading a physics teacher talking cosmology. Mathematically, they are so far divided it is a crack up.

To even calculate the big bang has specifics in mass calculation and each week, a new publication comes up about how they found 'NEW" stuff (dark mass )

But here is virial theorem http://spiff.rit.edu/classes/phys440.../gal_clus.html Run the math with Zwicky (radial velocity) and see what ya get.


Quote:
They seem to be quite ignorant of mathematics.

PS..... this thread has 7 pages of this forum beating up on someone who was screaming for the truth.

You tell us about how much of the dark junk is pseudo science?

How about the LHC? Tell us what a waste of resources it is.

Quote:
..... they have stumbled on the truth?
The electric universe is not from the kid. That is old material.

Quote:
What do they gain out of this avocation?
and you are here for what 'gain'?

Quote:
Appearing wise to their friends and relatives and the uninformed at cocktail parties?
it seems his opinion was best kept in promoting to increase the honesty of science.

Quote:
Are they delusional narcissists?
many a teacher appear to be more like the preacher; telling others to not think, just follow.

i rather like the practical physics and the sky crap divide. He made a fine point but should have gave newton/gallileo their cudos for the solar works.


Quote:
Do they hold myriad other unorthodox opinions about he world (like, say, political conspiracy theories and Internet driven puffery)?
You're here and even opened this thread seeking to comprehend how anyone could take on mainstream beliefs.

Quote:


Any opinions?
not really
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Old 11th December 2010, 11:07 PM   #256
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
Crackpots can appear oddly obsessive.
Sort of like you obsessively use the term "crackpot" as a crutch in nearly every single post?
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Old 11th December 2010, 11:10 PM   #257
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
So you're saying that someone who doesn't have enough "professional" or academic qualification can't discuss such topics?
Yes, but it's actually far worse than you think. He hasn't even read Alfven's material and he absolutely positively refuses to comment on Alfven's circuit orientation to events in space. Nobody has the qualifications to even get him to read the appropriate materials, not even Alfven himself.

Quote:
I think that's a bit oppressive.
That's the whole point I'm afraid.

Quote:
However, coming in with less "qualifications" and then going and ripping down the whole house (which is what these guys try to do -- "NEWSFLASH! EVERYTHING you know about physics is WRONG!" etc.) is a different story.
I'm just trying to get him to use his self professed credentials to explain Alfven's use of "circuits" in relationship to flares.
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Old 11th December 2010, 11:12 PM   #258
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
What draws the trolls, the liars, and the idiots to jump into discussions on subjects where they are clearly unqualified?
Beats me. Did you EVER intend to actually read Cosmic Plasma or comment on Alfven's use of circuits? Ever?
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:12 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by Arthur Mann View Post
Actually I think from that perspective the universe would appear to contract, but in any case, this is a weak joke.

The joke is a lot stronger than your argument

Too late, the space cadet has been banned.
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Old 12th December 2010, 06:31 AM   #260
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I don't think there are many 'crackpots' they are just very vocal.

Plus

'look at the pictures' is a lot easier than doing any actual physics.
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Old 12th December 2010, 06:47 AM   #261
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
I don't think there are many 'crackpots' they are just very vocal.
I agree. I also wonder how they compare to all the crackpots in other basic or applied sciences.

Medicine comes to mind. There are all of the CAM groups, the anti-vaccine crowd, and some notable examples of very credentialed scientists who advance crackpot theories--- like Peter Duesberg.
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Old 12th December 2010, 08:54 AM   #262
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Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
Sort of like you obsessively use the term "crackpot" as a crutch in nearly every single post?
Yes, it's appropriate when someone such as you argues the Sun has a crust and an iron interior.
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Old 12th December 2010, 09:11 AM   #263
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I actually called him 'cev' in one post
Well before your post, I distinctly remember saying to the birds and trees outside my window, "I think AM is a sock puppet for cev12345656". They seemed not to care in the least (I can't imagine why).

Oh, and I also may have clicked on the exclamation mark, inside a triangle, ....
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Old 12th December 2010, 09:59 AM   #264
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electric universe bloggers and their education

When it's the truth, it doesn't matter who says it. When it's evidence, it doesn't matter who presents it.

In this thread, however, Perpetual Student asked why there is so much crackpot physics. One of the more common answers has been that physics is hard, so more people are at the mercy of woo peddlers. If that is true, then we might expect some anti-correlation between crackpot physics and relevant education. That expectation can be developed into experimental tests of the conjectured hypothesis. Perpetual Student initiated one such experiment as follows:

Originally Posted by Perpetual Student View Post
Getting back to the OP, would any of you, who hold opinions that are not consistent with mainstream physics and cosmology, care to tell us a bit about your education -- specifically in the areas we are discussing here?
Only three such people have participated in this thread. One has refused to answer the question, one has been banned, and I don't expect to understand (or even to read) anything the third may write. It's fairly obvious, however, that none of the three have taken a rigorous course in physics (requiring calculus) at the freshman level or above. That's too small a sample, and it was a self-selected sample in any case, but it's fair to say that this small sample does not refute the conjectured anti-correlation.

As a representative sample of the woo peddlers themselves, consider the bloggers who comprise "our team" at http://www.thunderbolts.info/team.htm. The active bloggers and their education are (in alphabetical order):
  1. Mel Acheson is said to have "university training in astronomy".
  2. Michael Armstrong appears to be self-taught.
  3. Dwardu Cardona is a comparative mythologist and Velikovsky researcher who has written several books. He considers the mytho-historical record to be more reliable than astrophysical considerations. He is the editor of Aeon, "a journal of myth, science, and ancient history."
  4. Ev Cochrane is another comparative mythologist who has written several books, and is the publisher of Aeon.
  5. Michael Gmirkin graduated from the University of Oregon in 2001, having studied "history, religious studies, folklore, cultural anthropology, medieval studies, basic physics, biology, creative writing, math, computers (lots of computers; web design / databases)."
  6. Donald Scott earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering, and taught EE at the University of Massachusetts until he retired in 1998.
  7. Dave Smith is the managing editor of the Thunderblogs and an honorary member of the Telesio-Galilei Academy of Science, which appears to be an honor reserved for non-scientists. (Scientists would be regular members.)
  8. Stephen Smith "has been studying the concepts embodied by the Electric Universe theory for over thirty years. He is the managing editor for the Thunderbolts Picture of the Day, writes most of the articles, and provides editorial assistance..."
  9. David Talbott has a bachelor's degree in education and political science from Portland State University, with one additional year of graduate education in urban studies. He is a comparative mythologist, founder of Aeon, and co-author of Wallace Thornhill.
  10. Wallace Thornhill has an undergraduate education in physics and was admitted to postgraduate study, but dropped out because he perceived academic hostility to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky.
  11. Ian Tresman says he spent four years at the University of East Anglia and the University of Manchester in (respectively) studying chemistry and computer science.
  12. Scott Wall is said to be a software developer whose background is in mathematics and physics.

I count one doctoral degree in engineering (Donald Scott), one undergraduate degree in physics (Wal Thornhill), and only two others who even claim to have taken a few physics courses as an undergraduate (Michael Gmirkin and Scott Wall).

The conjectured anti-correlation between relevant education and promotion of woo physics appears to have been unrefuted by this sample. Further investigation may be warranted.

Last edited by W.D.Clinger; 12th December 2010 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 12th December 2010, 10:04 AM   #265
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Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
Yes, it's appropriate when someone such as you argues the Sun has a crust and an iron interior.
FYI, I believe that the sun has a *CRUST* (not necessarily all iron BTW) at about 4800KM below the surface of the photosphere. I would however assume that crust is relatively thin and most of what is inside the sun is pressurized "plasma" of various types.
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Old 12th December 2010, 10:09 AM   #266
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
One of the more common answers has been that physics is hard, so more people are at the mercy of woo peddlers. If that is true, then we might expect some anti-correlation between crackpot physics and relevant education.
Er, that logic fails with the "crackpot messiah" since he had a Nobel Prize in MHD theory. Peratt seems to be pretty educated too in a relavant field of science. Learner? Did you look at Birkeland, Bruce and Dungey too?

It seems to me that this whole "we are smarter than they are" nonsense is nothing more than a group self defense mechanism. I guess you figure if you keep attacking individuals your empirical physics problems will magically disappear. Oh well, I guess it gives you a false sense of superiority. Of course I'll bet that less than 4 of you that have participated in this thread have actually read Alfven's book. The rest of you are basically arguing from a place of nearly pure ignorance of his work.

Last edited by Michael Mozina; 12th December 2010 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 12th December 2010, 10:34 AM   #267
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Ok, I believe there's a correlation between those who call PC/EU theory a "crackpot" theory, and a LACK of having ever read Plasma Cosmology cover to cover.

Show of hands please: Who's actually read Cosmic Plasma?

Anyone read Peratt's book?

Last edited by Michael Mozina; 12th December 2010 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 12th December 2010, 10:45 AM   #268
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Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
Er, that logic fails with the "crackpot messiah" since he had a Nobel Prize in MHD theory. Peratt seems to be pretty educated too in a relavant field of science. Learner? Did you look at Birkeland, Bruce and Dungey too?
Misspelling two of their names was kinda entertaining. You've been doing that throughout this thread.

Once again, you confirm my point. Had you known what "anti-correlation" means, you'd have known that no handful of data points can settle the issue. Had you understood the phrase "representative sample", you'd have known that prattling on about your brightest lights cannot be relevant.

But the real answer to your post is that you have already proved, beyond all doubt, that you fail to understand the good science those good scientists have published. You and your fellow travellers routinely misrepresent Birkeland and Alfvén, and your recent obsession with one of Dungey's papers has been entertaining precisely because you have no clue concerning its main result, which was entirely mathematical in nature.

Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
It seems to me that this whole "we are smarter than they are" nonsense is nothing more than a group self defense mechanism. I guess you figure if you keep attacking individuals your empirical physics problems will magically disappear. Oh well, I guess it gives you a false sense of superiority. Of course I'll bet that less than 4 of you that have participated in this thread have actually read Alfven's book. The rest of you are basically arguing from a place of nearly pure ignorance of his work.
Claiming to have read Alfvén's book and actually understanding Alfvén's results are two different things.

You don't have the mathematical background required to understand Alfvén's technical publications. Those of us who do have that background have learned more from reading just a few of Alfvén's papers than you have learned by looking at all the pretty pictures and memorizing all the technical words without learning what they mean.
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Old 12th December 2010, 02:51 PM   #269
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Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
Beats me. Did you EVER intend to actually read Cosmic Plasma or comment on Alfven's use of circuits? Ever?
Why should GeeMack want to read a book that was published in 1981 when there are modern textbooks that cover the same subject and include 30 more years of scientific research?
This is especially true since Cosmic Plasma includes cosmology. Cosmological observations have increased dramatically in the last 30 years.

Perhap you can recommend the modern plasma physics textbook(s) that you have read to GeeMack?

As for Alfven's use of circuits - no comment is needed.
It is a standard modeling technique. Not really suitable for solar flares because it ignores the observed physics (e.g. the changes in magnetic fields) but it does describe the gross features of flares well, e.g. total energy output.
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Old 12th December 2010, 03:52 PM   #270
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Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
Er, that logic fails with the "crackpot messiah" since he had a Nobel Prize in MHD theory. Peratt seems to be pretty educated too in a relavant field of science. Learner? Did you look at Birkeland, Bruce and Dungey too?

It seems to me that this whole "we are smarter than they are" nonsense is nothing more than a group self defense mechanism. I guess you figure if you keep attacking individuals your empirical physics problems will magically disappear. Oh well, I guess it gives you a false sense of superiority. Of course I'll bet that less than 4 of you that have participated in this thread have actually read Alfven's book. The rest of you are basically arguing from a place of nearly pure ignorance of his work.
How may contemporary PhD physicists do you know who are EU/PC believers?
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:12 PM   #271
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Quote:
Why should GeeMack want to read a book that was published in 1981 when there are modern textbooks that cover the same subject and include 30 more years of scientific research?
Because later work might include stuff that disproves or goes against the ATM ideas that he holds.

\This is a common theme on BAUT in ATM threads. You see it a lot in Creationist circles as well.
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:22 PM   #272
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I actually called him 'cev' in one post
I noticed that. Was it the fact that until cev cam along you hadn't seen anybody ever deny that gravity could compress gases and then when cev was banned Arthur pooped up at exactly the same time claiming exactly the same thing?
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:28 PM   #273
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Originally Posted by DeiRenDopa View Post
Oh, and I also may have clicked on the exclamation mark, inside a triangle, ....
Ironic given cev's fondness for the triangle symbol in the title.
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:55 PM   #274
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Originally Posted by Tubbythin View Post
I noticed that. Was it the fact that until cev cam along you hadn't seen anybody ever deny that gravity could compress gases and then when cev was banned Arthur pooped up at exactly the same time claiming exactly the same thing?
That was definitely suggestive. Also he used almost identical wording about spectra showing that the surface of the sun was mostly calcium and iron. And once my suspicions were aroused, it wasn't hard to find a lot of supporting evidence. Same style, he joined a few hours after cev was banned, jumped right into the middle of a long thread . . .
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Old 12th December 2010, 04:58 PM   #275
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
That was definitely suggestive. Also he used almost identical wording about spectra showing that the surface of the sun was mostly calcium and iron. And once my suspicions were aroused, it wasn't hard to find a lot of supporting evidence. Same style, he joined a few hours after cev was banned, jumped right into the middle of a long thread . . .
I think they were both using the <subject>101 line too.
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Old 12th December 2010, 05:23 PM   #276
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Originally Posted by Michael Mozina View Post
Beats me. Did you EVER intend to actually read Cosmic Plasma or comment on Alfven's use of circuits? Ever?

Not only is this intentional effort to derail the thread transparent, but there is a place much closer to reality where one must start when discussing crackpot notions which are demonstrably physically impossible. I thought I had made my position obvious with this...
Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
Clearly if someone makes a claim as stupid and unsupportable as, say, the moon is made of cheese, there's no reason to get into a discussion about the cheese making process, how much rennet, aging for how long, and how to handle the whey. If the claim is so unsupportably stupid, and the claimant has nothing but bald assertions and lies to back it, I see no reason to entertain their apparently desperate desire to talk all sciency and indulge the fantasy they have about actually participating in real science. With crackpots the whole thing is so far below real science it never needs to go there. If the crackpots don't even understand grade school science, it's surely not going to do them any good to talk about college level science, the persistent and uncivil complaints of those very crackpots notwithstanding.
Yep, seems pretty easy to understand, but it does check to about a grade 15 reading level, so it might have slipped past a few folks.

Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
Why should GeeMack want to read a book that was published in 1981 when there are modern textbooks that cover the same subject and include 30 more years of scientific research?
This is especially true since Cosmic Plasma includes cosmology. Cosmological observations have increased dramatically in the last 30 years.

I find it amusing that the progress of crackpot physics ended when the authors of the cited sources died. If Birkeland, Alfvén, or Bruce were alive today, in full possession of their faculties and aware of the leaps made in science since the time of their deaths, they'd be the first to call the crackpots on their foolishness. Not to mention they'd be suing some of the more prolific crackpots for constantly dragging their good names through the manure. I can hear Birkeland now, "What? That's what they think I was doing with the terrella? They must be nuts!"

Anyway, my personal willingness to indulge crackpots' compulsive desire to talk all sciency about things they don't understand is limited by a lack patience for ignorance and stupidity. What it would take for me to get much further into a discussion would be proof that the crackpots have even an elementary school kid's understanding of rudimentary concepts like who has the burden of proof when he/she makes a crackpot claim.

But since that doesn't happen in pretty much any of the discussions I observe, the approach I choose is to continue pointing out when they lie, when they're trying to get away with logical fallacies, when they refuse to quantitatively consider their claims, and when they misunderstand simple concepts like objectivity. If they can't handle all that beginner's stuff, it's damned certain they won't be able to grasp the details of the actual science.

Why is there so much crackpot physics? Is there more crackpot physics than combined crackpot Truther fantasies, crackpot kidney-seer delusions, crackpot Bigfoot hunter dreams, etc.? There seems to be crackpot notions associated with many varied areas of interest. I've always been intrigued by people who literally can't separate reality from fantasy and live their lives as if the fantasy part was real.
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Old 12th December 2010, 06:16 PM   #277
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
Why is there so much crackpot physics? Is there more crackpot physics than combined crackpot Truther fantasies, crackpot kidney-seer delusions, crackpot Bigfoot hunter dreams, etc.? There seems to be crackpot notions associated with many varied areas of interest. I've always been intrigued by people who literally can't separate reality from fantasy and live their lives as if the fantasy part was real.
I think there is more crackpot physics.

I wonder if part of it is the focus on Albert Einstein, and the fact that Einstein was able to get so far with thought experiments, involving everyday and easy-to-think-about things (train cars, mirrors, stopwatches) and easy math (basic algebra). So there's this picture of someone sitting in an easy chair, with his feet up, "thinking about physics" by putting simple layman's ingredients together in "clever" ways, and figuring it all out. It makes it sound extremely easy---at least, it makes it sound like it can be done with very little preparation. "I think of myself as clever. Maybe I could do that too."

There's no parallel foundational-acts-of-cleverness in, say, chemistry. The things you think of as heroic feats of chemical thinking might be, e.g., Mendeleev. Inventing the periodic table was not just armchair-cleverness, it required Mendeleev to synthesize a vast amount of experimental knowledge of the elements. (Who else? Boltzmann? Linus Pauling?) In biology, the Einstein-equivalent is Darwin. Darwin's key insights are certainly something you could come up with in an armchair---but the historiography focuses on the fact that he spent years "in the trenches", aboard the Beagle, collecting the experimental facts he'd later synthesize. Again, nobody reads The Voyage of the Beagle and says, "I understand this pretty well, and I think of myself as clever; I bet I could do that."

In math, there's no twee mythologizing that makes the geniuses' jobs look easy. Nobody reads a book about Euler or Gauss or Whitehead and says "I could do that". What are the exceptions? Well, there's the sort of math that gets popular books written about it. "Dear reader, you too can understand this math from your armchair", says Ivars Peterson or Simon Singh. What sorts of math do they say this about? Fractals. Infinity. Fermat's Last Theorem. Prime numbers. And lo, I think those are the fields that attract crackpots. (Not calculus. Not differential geometry. Not complex analysis.)

So that's my guess at the problem. Physics is the main field in which the popularization, and the pop historiography, has a that's-clever-but-I-could-have-done-that feel to it, and that's the main source of crackpots.

Is there an key armchair-genius, "I-could-do-that" figure in any science---indeed, in any scholarly field---other than Einstein in physics?

(I think this hypothesis accounts for crackpot cosmologists, as the pop cosmology literature has the same these-key-theoretical-insights-are-accessible-to-laymen feel as the relativity/QM literature. It doesn't particularly account for solar physics crackpottery---my guess is that plasma cosmology is a "gateway drug" that draws electric-sun people into the harder stuff. And it doesn't account for creationists, Bigfooters, UFO abductologists, and 9/11 truthers, but there I think the underlying mindset is different.)

(Also: my humanities colleagues tell me that there are history crackpots, who, just like science crackpots, wander into offices and conferences and explain their decades-long quest to prove that Pickett's Charge had really been conducted east of Cemetery Ridge. Or whatever.)
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Old 12th December 2010, 06:26 PM   #278
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Originally Posted by ben m View Post
I think there is more crackpot physics.

I wonder if part of it is the focus on Albert Einstein, and the fact that Einstein was able to get so far with thought experiments, involving everyday and easy-to-think-about things (train cars, mirrors, stopwatches) and easy math (basic algebra). So there's this picture of someone sitting in an easy chair, with his feet up, "thinking about physics" by putting simple layman's ingredients together in "clever" ways, and figuring it all out. It makes it sound extremely easy---at least, it makes it sound like it can be done with very little preparation. "I think of myself as clever. Maybe I could do that too."
<<snip>>

So that's my guess at the problem. Physics is the main field in which the popularization, and the pop historiography, has a that's-clever-but-I-could-have-done-that feel to it, and that's the main source of crackpots.

Is there an key armchair-genius, "I-could-do-that" figure in any science---indeed, in any scholarly field---other than Einstein in physics?

<<snip lots of relevant stuff>>
Add to that the McGyver attitude, and all the other stuff in film and idiot-box, where a problem is found, and solved in less than 30 minutes (or 120 minutes in movies), the drama of "Storm chasers" (where they ignore the 11 months of correlating data in some dark room), but compress the 6-8 weeks of data acquisition into a series of 1 hour dramas, with some dude yelling "It's SCIENCE" every time something happens...
(For a real treat, visit the "Stormchasers" forum, and read anything by "spacelaser"..)
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Old 12th December 2010, 07:12 PM   #279
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In addition to what Ben M and rwguinn said, the tendency of popular media to report every mildly interesting observation as "Overturning everything we thought we knew about X" or "Challenging the very foundations of X" or "Scientists baffled by X" makes it seem like our scientific knowledge really is on very shakey ground, just waiting for a clever insight from someone who's able to think outside the box.
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Old 12th December 2010, 08:45 PM   #280
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http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/Al...%20Science.pdf

For anyone actually interested, the link above is pretty much Alfven's take on cosmology. It hasn't really gotten any better since he wrote this, in fact "dark energy" is recent ad hoc add on.
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