It's Not as Hard as All That

In Physics, Telling Cranks from Experts Ain’t Easy

Somewhat ironic that a story about science is just anecdotes, but the larger issue is that they are inappropriate ones.

She shares my sense that some popular suppositions—notably the notion that reality consists of extremely tiny strings wriggling in hyperspaces of a dozen or more dimensions, or that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes—verge on pseudoscience, because they are even less experimentally testable than Jim Carter’s circlon theory.

String theory is a work in progress and isn’t the basis for, well, anything as far as I know. Does anybody outside of string theory actually use it? But it’s going through the process, which is important — it just hasn’t completed it. If for some reason relativity had not panned out it would not be crank physics, it would just be wrong, unless Einstein (and followers) had continued to push it even after it had been falsified.

Quantum mechanical interpretations should not be interpreted as science. They are a bridge to understanding, of visualizing concepts, because so much of physics is a construct of the models — we occasionally forget that nobody is guaranteeing that the components of these models are real, just that nature behaves that way.

I have no knowledge of circlon theory, but if it holds to form as crank science it will have little to no math and be of limited application, solving one or two problems in science, but failing to address the broad scope that conventional science does. Thus it will not make specific predictions and would not be falsifiable.

As for the respected-scientist-as-crackpot, one has to remember we follow the evidence, not the person. You give deference to people who have made great advances, but you still test the claims.