Slate/New Scientist posts a piece on amateur physicists that makes you say Whaaa…? It’s like a return of postmodernism.
Very little unites this disparate group of amateurs—there are as many theories as members—except for a common belief that “something is drastically wrong in contemporary physics and cosmology, and that a new spirit of open-mindedness is desperately needed.” They are unanimous in the view that mainstream physics has been hijacked by a kind of priestly caste who speak a secret language—in other words, mathematics—that is incomprehensible to most human beings. They claim that the natural world speaks a language which all of us can, or should be able to, understand. Rather than having their dialogue with the world mediated by “experts,”= NPA members insist that they can commune with it directly and describe its patterns in accessible terms.
Thankfully, Dr. Steve Novella provides an excellent critique, putting the culture of the crank (don’t like the science, then make up your own) in to perspective and skewering the author’s conclusion that we should consider their role in producing reliable knowledge. Cranks and Physics (highly recommended read AND save)
Researchers in fringe fields, the deviant scientists, love to say “science rules be damned – change the rules”. Von Daniken, Velikovsky, and psi researchers are all examples of this as well as numerous others. There is currently a 3 part archaeology series in Skeptical Inquirer about so-called diffusionists as another example. It’s little different than giving equal time to creationists for evolution. Their ideas are NOT equal. They are not supported by evidence or based upon established knowledge as a foundation. But these fringe researchers want so badly to be awarded the prestige of “science” that they claim to be doing it, just in their own way, and that their way is just as valid. Not at all. Dr. Steve explains why. Check it out.