Jimbo writes, in regards to various speculative theories
I think this presents challenges for our NPOV policy,
but not _special_ challenges. As with any controversial
subject, and many uncontroversial ones, there are
mainstream views, minority views, and singular views.
NPOV does not require us to present all these views
as if they are equal! ...If a view is the majority view
of a broad consensus of scientists, then we say so.
If a view is a minority view of some scientists,
scientists who are respected by the mainstream that
differs with them on this particular matter, then we
say so. And if a view is held only by a few people
without any traditional training or credentials, and if
that view is dismissed by virtually all mainstream
scientists, then we can say that, too.
The reason we can do all of that is that, usually, those
statements are not controversial to any of the parties
in the debate.
I agree fully. My experience on Usenet has shown me that
crank theories arise on every science subject; the topics
that get the most cranks are relativity, anti-gravity,
thermodynamics and "perpetual motion" and anything related
to pre-1200s archaeology. (Lots of odd theories are out
there about mainstream science and/or "the establishment"
somehow surpressing proof of advanced science in ancient
India, ancient Egypt, etc.)
Jimbo's clarification makes sense. The only thing I would
add is that we should follow the above along with the
current provision that Wikipedia is not a place for one's
won personal reasearch. If an idea is by only held one
person (plus or minus their family members!) their views
should not be in any Wikipedia articles. Otherwise, we'd
have literally hundreds of pages on relativity or gravity,
each idea unique, held only by an individual.
Singular views can be moved to a separate page and
identified (disclaimed) as such, or in some cases
For such topics it best to omit singular views. There are
hundreds of people out there who believe they have "proven"
that perpetual motion machines exist; each one of them has
their own unique theory and mathematical model of why
mainstream thermodynamics is wrong, and each would probably
want their own Wikipedia article.
Unless a "crank" view starts to become accepted by some
tiny percentage of mainstream science, there isn't much of
a need or reason to discuss them in our articles.
However, there is a great need for a good article on this
phenomenon. We desperately need an article on the
scientific and psychological reasons why so many people
keep working on perpetual motion machines, why they believe
that you can travel faster than light in normal space (*),
why they believe that fully modern humans lived 5 million
years ago, etc.
(*) One very well might be able to travel faster than
light, given wormholes, or the Alcubierre warp drive, etc.
But none of these violate Einsteinian relativity. They are
special cases that are included in relativity; they are
accepted as legitimate areas of research by the mainstream
scientific community. The problem with cranks is that they
are ignorant of, or dismissive of, the very open-minded
nature of the scientific community. (Physics is very
open-minded; just consider the proliferation of well
written papers in highly regarded physics journals on FTL,
time travel, quantum computing, etc.) Cranks, by contrast,
are characterized by conspiracism and a refusal to allow
inconvenient facts to enter into their research.
Do you Yahoo!?
The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search