Sunday, February 12, 2012

I score 155 on John Baez's Crackpot Index

 Yesterday I asked if there was some objective way to tell if you were a crackpot. It turns out that a guy named John Baez, the head moderator of sci.physics.research put something up on his website a few years ago that claims to answer this question objectively. I was pretty interested in trying it out, so I gave myself the test. It turns out that Baez wasn't really serious about devising a useful measurement tool. He just wanted to make fun of crackpots. Or that's how it looks to me. In any case, I went through his test and got a score of 155.  Baez doesn't provide a scoring guide, so I don't know if that makes me a crackpot on his scale.  But for the record, here it is.


The Crackpot Index

John Baez

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions  to physics:

  1. A -5 point starting credit.
  2. 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.
  3. 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.
  4. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.
  5. 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.
  6. 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.  I claim that a beam of atoms going through a Stern-Gerlach magnet spreads into a donut instead of the widely-accepted two dots.
  7.  5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).
  8. 5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann". I refer to Feynman as one who supports the two-dot interpretation of Stern-Gerlach (see point 6.)
  9. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
  10. 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity. I point out that I was kicked out of school. Do I get a 10-point credit for this?
  11. 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it. (10 more for emphasizing that you worked on your own.)
  12. 10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.
  13. 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory. In the physicsforum thread where I got kicked out, I offered to split my Nobel Prize money with anyone who would help me publish my theory.
  14. 10 points for each new term you invent and use without properly defining it.
  15. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".
  16. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.
  17. 10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to provide a "mechanism".Yes, that's what I say about the collapse of the wave function. 
  18. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
  19. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".Yes, that's what I say about Quantum Siphoning.
  20. 20 points for emailing me and complaining about the crackpot index. (E.g., saying that it "suppresses original thinkers" or saying that I misspelled "Einstein" in item 8.)
  21. 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize. Guilty.
  22. 20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
  23. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.
  24. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories. Yes, I complain about the know-it-alls on physicsforums  who ridiculed me.
  25. 20 points for naming something after yourself. (E.g., talking about the "The Evans Field Equation" when your name happens to be Evans.)I might have dodged this bullet but just last week I said I wanted to use the name "Marty's Function" for my donut distribution for the Stern Gerlach experiment.
  26. 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually explaining it.
  27. 20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".
  28. 20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the orthodoxy".I think I called ZapperZ and Jim Carr something almost exactly like this.
  29. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his freshman physics textbooks.)
  30. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.
  31. 30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).
  32. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.
  33. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.
  34. 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.
  35. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.
  36. 40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)
  37. 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions.I probably do this with Quantum Siphoning and the collapse of the wave function. I don't claim to predict different results from everyone else, I just claim to have developed a causal  mechanism which explains how it works.


patchworkZombie said...

What this quiz means by "mentioning Feynmann" is saying that you are his true intellectual heir. Hawkins and Feynmann both published popular science books and so they tend to be the scientists that non experts are familiar with.
Gone to school would mean something like a bachelors degree in engineering or buisness.

It is no coincidence I chose to mention Beaty on you last post. He has whole pages on how to deal with closeminded science

Marty Green said...

Yeah, I know he's looking for something a little different when he talks about mentioning Feynmann or Einstein. I just didn't want to seem to be cheating on his little test. The real scam is the very last question, where he says if it doesn't make any new predictions, then it's worthless. Anyone who has any interest in foundational work is obviously trying to come up with a theory that exactly duplicates the Standarde QM, except without the baffling philosophical conuncrums. No such theory is going to make any new predictions, so Baez is simply writing them all off as a waste of time.

ulzha said...

He's looking for *misspellings* when he talks about mentioning Feynmann or Einstien. Guys. Cf. No. 20 and No. 29

Anonymous said...

Misspellings, as ulzha pointed out... Might have been worth it to add points for not having figured that out yourselves. Says a lot about thoroughness & understanding...

Anonymous said...

If you had stopped at the thought experiment you could have been ok. So you have a thought experiment that contradicts a widely held view about a well known experiment. Stop. Publish. Preferably also find somewhere you can run the experiment to confirm your prediction, that will bulk up the paper nicely.

(When you publish, remember to cite the groups who performed the most recent and accurate instances of the experiment. If the only people you can think of to name are the three most well known scientists in pop culture, don't. Otherwise it sounds like you don't appreciate the extent of different other people's contributions and aren't qualified to be worth listening to.)

If you can pass peer review, then the 5 point deduction disappears and we can talk about the next issue (which is, how to suggest a novel interpretation of QM without sounding like a total loon). If not, it is too early to be telling anyone about an alternate theory of QM based on your unproven speculative imaginings.

Anonymous said...

25 Name something after yourself, like Higgs particle or Higgs field =D

Viking said...

@ Anonymous: ... As you might know, Peter "Higgs himself prefers to call the particle either by an acronym of all those involved ("ABEGHHK'tH", for Anderson, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen, Higgs, Kibble and 't Hooft), or "the scalar boson", or "the so-called Higgs particle" (Wikipedia: Higgs Boson). As with the misspellings, you missed the subtlety that naming things after YOURSELF might be a bit delusional...

Anonymous said...

I rated the enviable minus 5 score or the reasonable plus 15 rating
depending on how strict one scores my web site but such
low scores do not prevent physicists from calling me a crackpot.
The funny thing is they call me that without even looking at it.
Those that have, go in thinking they are correcting my "misunderstanding",
find out that I do understand, cannot come to grips with what I know,
get angry, and run away. I have even had a physicist say things
they know are wrong until I correct them. They never stay focused
because of what it means. I have therefore concluded physicists
have the biggest egoes in the universe.

visit workenergytheorem. com if you dare but be forewarned that it cannot be refuted but you can assume it is wrong.

John Baez said...

patchworkZombie wrote:

"What this quiz means by "mentioning Feynmann" is saying that you are his true intellectual heir. Hawkins and Feynmann both published popular science books."

No, I meant that if you can't spell the names Feynman, Hawking and Einstein correctly, you deserve a few crackpot points!

Turtle said...

Someone please tell me this index has been applied to Nassim Haramein's Schwarzchild proton paper. Surely he has got the winning score!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous' comment of March 22, 2014 exhorts us to visit
Read the Cart Experiment described there, and look for the fatal defect in reasoning that "no need for Phase III, IV, or more since a doubling of the sphere's baseline speed of 5 m/s has already occurred." What has happened is that the claimed "doubling" in speed is really a simple addition of a deltas. Consider what happens if instead the cart's initial speed is 10 m/s: using the same amount of energy to accelerate the sphere increases its speed to 15 m/s, a far cry from doubling. Not convinced about using deltas for speed and energy? Consider that the whole system is moving through space at the speed of the galaxy, about 552 ± 6 km/s relative to Cosmic Microwave Background. What's the speed and kinetic energy of the sphere now?

Anonymous said...

YES. Thank you. Science only deals with the empirical and is based on peer review. You MUST have experimental evidence and you need to show other scientists the evidence.

Anonymous said...

But Mr. Green, why do you believe that the electron distribution in Stern Gerlach expertiment would have donut shape? This experiment was run in several labs independently each time reproducing the well known distribution. Possibly you can expand a little bit on your idea for QM novices so that we understand?

Marty Green said...

I was actually wrong about the donut pattern. The donut is what you get from a pure quadrupole field. I assumed that adding a DC field (which you get with the traditional pointed magnet) on top of it would have no additional effect.

Paul Klevgard, Ph.D. said...

It is true that 'freedom to publish' (the Internet) has resulted in a proliferation of dubious theories from authors who have not studied subjects long, hard and self-critically. It is a bad scene...
This in turn has encouraged 'the professionals' [academics of physics or the philosophy of science] to puff themselves with pride as the 'gate-keepers' of knowledge. They are modern scholastics: I know Latin, you don't; I went to Princeton and you went to diddly-poo or nothing at all. BTW: Professorial self-importance is not limited to physics or philosophy; many professors are guilty of it; after all their years of hard work they do like to feel superior & respected whether or not their salary or reputation comports with that; teaching their students (their 'inferiors') encourages that.
There is also the heavy weight of textbooks and traditions [see Kuhn] and professionals don't want to change their opinions [and their tenure-track research] for the sake of a new theory that lacks experimental confirmation. [Even with new evidence, it takes quite awhile for academia to catch up; academia is, like all professions, something of a business: tenure, promotion, publications, awards, hosting conferences, etc.]. Einstein's 1905 papers would not be accepted by any reputable journal today: too speculative, no evidence, 'crackpot'... Einstein worked long, hard and critically for his 1905 papers. But there are examples in physics where intuition rather than hard work is predominant: Faraday, de Broglie and Bell come to mind. The gatekeepers are not disposed to recognize or accept intuition these days. And true crackpots also seem to proliferate :( Again, not a good scene...