Guidelines for discussing alternative scientific theories

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Guidelines for discussing alternative scientific theories

Post by Jobar » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:10 pm

The original version of this list was published at the Bad Astronomy discussion board, which has since merged with the Cosmoquest forum.

If you want to discuss scientific theories that are far outside the mainstream, following these simple rules will help make your exchanges more pleasant and productive for all involved.

1. You’re going to be challenged to defend your statements with evidence.

2. You’re going to be told you’re wrong when you make statements in conflict with published research. If you don’t agree with being told you are wrong. See statement #1.

3. You have not been attacked if you are told you are wrong. Only your theory is attacked.

4. Throwing a tantrum because your theory is not accepted will not win you support.

5. Have a sense of humor, be friendly and be polite. Taking yourself too seriously usually leads to frustration.

6. People at Secular Cafe generally want to help – even when they disagree with you.

7. Whenever possible, defend your points with published research – and make sure you can provide some explanation as to how that research supports what you are saying.

8. You’re going to be asked tough questions. When someone asks you a question – answer it. If you don’t know the answer – say so.

9. People here will usually listen and discuss politely well reasoned arguments – even when they disagree.

10. Don’t make claims that extend beyond what your data (or the data you’re referencing) can support. If you consider something as unproven speculation – say so.

11. You’re not going to convince everybody your idea is right with one post.

12. You’re not going to convince everybody your idea is right with two posts.

13. When someone demonstrates a point you made is wrong, acknowledge that it was shown to be wrong and don’t keep repeating it.

14. While some people may sound very dogmatic – the mainstream theories in astronomy and cosmology are not religion.

15. Peer review may not be perfect, but it is necessary. Remember the people on this board constitute your peers, if you choose to discuss alternative theories here.

16. Don’t accuse people of being close minded just because they disagree with you.

17. Don’t create cute little names for mainstream theories and astronomers. Sure they might be funny on some level, but they’re going to irritate people and distract them from the points you’re trying to make.

18. If you think you’ve refuted Newton, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the Big Bang all in one post – you haven’t. Whole books have been written challenging those theories. You’re not going to do it single handedly in a few hundred words on an internet discussion board.

19. Be willing to modify your views.

20. Be realistic. You’ll have better luck trying to convince people your alternative is possible than you will have trying to convince everybody your idea is right – and everybody else is wrong.

21. You need more data. All scientists need more data.

22. Ask yourself – Is what you’re proposing proof against the Big Bang, or could it be something the BB theory can absorb?

23. Be happy if people are respectfully discussing the strength and weaknesses of your ideas. If you’ve reached that point then you’ve accomplished a lot more than most of the alternatives brought forward at SC.