The following is a neat analogy from skeptic Tom Napier:
A Parable for Scientific Revolutionaries
There once was a man who thought it would be nice to be an
entomologist. Now he didn't actually know very much about entomology but,
rather than bother to study boring books or to take a course, he thought
it would be more fun to make important new discoveries. That way he could
write scientific papers and become famous.
So he went for a walk in the woods. He dug about in the fallen leaves
and he looked under flat stones and, sure enough, after only a few hours
he found a very strange little spider which he had never seen before.
So he wrote a paper describing this spider, which he naturally named
after himself. He sent this paper to a scientific journal and he waited
and he waited and he never heard from them. This made him very angry so
he wrote a long letter to the editor of the journal accusing him of
censorship and of being in league with an international cabal of
scientists determined to suppress new discoveries. (And the editor said,
"Oh God, another nut," and pitched the letter in the trash.)
Next our would-be entomologist turned to the Internet. There he told
everyone who would listen how the scientific establishment was denying him
credit for his discovery. He found many people who agreed how terrible it
was that professional scientists were ignoring the world-shaking
discoveries and new theories proposed by amateurs. They even warned him
that if he persisted the CIA would steal his discovery and have him
eliminated. Well that scared him a bit but it made him feel quite
important. He really must be a threat to the establishment if the CIA
were out to get him.
Then he happened to contact someone who really was a professional
entomologist. He described to her the marvelous new spider he had
discovered. The entomologist, who was of a helpful and patient
disposition, explained that this spider was well known to science and she
reeled off its long Latin name. It was not a new discovery after all.
She even suggested that anyone who wanted to make discoveries in
entomology should start by reading a few books on the subject.
Well, that was the end of that exchange. Why talk to someone who won't
believe you when there are so many people out there who will? And the
bitter exchanges about suppressed discoveries went on.
And the moral is? Change "entomology" into any scientific subject.
Before you proclaim your new invention which will change the face of the
world, take the trouble to study what professional scientists have written
on the topic. If it were really wrong, other scientists would have been
only too eager to point this out.
If your invention confounds well established scientific laws such as
the conservation of energy, consider whether it is more likely that
generations of professionals have been totally wrong, or that you are
mistaken. Don't be paranoid. If you really have made a brilliant new
discovery, and can prove it, then scientific journals will be delighted to
hear from you. Above all, remember that the best route to making a new
discovery is to acquire a sound grasp of what is already known. Amateur
breakthroughs don't happen as often as you might think.
Copyright � 1998 Tom Napier
I wrote up a fascinating comparison of the uncanny parallels between the
lives of Joe Newman and Dennis Lee - I just first want to go over Evan's
response to it.
Here is one more announcement of FE hope - I looked through the first few
equations and they seemed right, there may well have been an "excursion from
reality" after that.
NATO Grant Partner Requested by Russian Researcher
Mon, 2 Nov 1998 11:41:52 -0800
From: Anatoly T. Sukhodolsky
Sent: Monday, November 2, 1998 9:37 AM
To: Bailey, Patrick
Subject: An NATO grant application
Dear Dr Patrick Bailey
My name is Anatoly Sukhodolsky.
I have found several new physical phenomena to directly convert continuous
light into mechanical energy owing to phase transitions of first order.
An introduction into new alternative propulsive sources powered by
radiation was done at IECEC'33; see:
You reviewed one of these papers.
This message is due to my attempt to seek a partner in USA to joint apply
for NATO grant:
to begin a collaboration on design the new set of propulsive engines.
Please let me know if we could get in touch to send an application before
the deadline (November 30).
Thank you for consideration this initiative.
Anatoly Sukhodolsky Phone:7-095-1328164
Doctor of Phys-Math Sciences Fax: 7-095-1352055
Leading Scientist e-mail: sukhodol@...
General Physics Institute w-site: http://www.gpi.ru/~sukhodol
Russian Academy of Sciences -----------------------------------
Vavilov Street 38 Moscow \ | /
Russia -- O --
Eric Krieg eric@...
fax (215) 654-0651