Can scientists have empathy for crackpots? + What we can learn from Bigfoot

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Can scientists have empathy for crackpots?
http://motls.blogspot.com/2016/04/can-sc...y-for.html

EXCERPT: . . . Do I know what Tetragraviton is talking about? Yes. I am regularly exposed to lots of people who may be called crackpots, who have these incredibly naive and seemingly totally unjustifiable beliefs about their being better thinkers than everyone else, about the possibility to solve deep problems by simple slogans and sentences, and who are willing to self-confidently promote arbitrarily silly answers to questions. [...] But do I feel that I am exactly on the same frequency as Tetragraviton? No. Two weeks ago, we disagreed about whether the physics of decimals is very important. And this arguably "quantitative" difference influences our "slightly" different attitudes to the empathy for crackpots, too.

[...] Crackpots typically assume that the real fight is between themselves on one side and the rest of the world or the rest of the scientific community on the opposite side. This format of the fight is an assumption; and all the technical content of their would-be contributions is being adapted to this pre-determined, ambitious format of the war. But it's simply very or insanely unlikely for genuine science to be compatible with this straitjacket.

What an actual great scientist has is a "copy of the whole hostile world" in his own mind. An actual great scientist wants to find the truth. To find the truth, he has to eliminate ideas that are not true. And he just can't wait for the "hostile people in the external world" to do the job. He has to do the job by himself. An honest scientist – and a scientist really must be honest, so the adjective is redundant – simply doesn't just push the cart in one direction. He carefully thinks where the cart should actually be pushed. This is a very different kind of work. So the mind of an actual great scientist – and perhaps even an ordinary scientist – is a battleground where ideas are constantly trying to beat other ideas. And all these ideas and their weapons are being provided by the single brain of the scientist himself. He just doesn't need some "foes" from the external world to identify and kill every wrong idea. He provides these "foes" for himself....



What We Can Learn from Bigfoot
http://jamesmaxey.blogspot.com/2016/03/w...gfoot.html

EXCERPT: Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by cryptozoology, the science (or pseudoscience) of studying unknown animals. As a child, I really wanted to believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, and their many brethren. Alas, as the years rolled by and I actually started looking at the evidence for such creatures, I found myself becoming a skeptic. I have sympathy for people who do believe in such creatures, however. First, there’s an issue of basic fairness. Cryptozoology has seen a few mythical beings actually come to light, most recently with giant squids finally being captured on film and proving the existence of the kraken. Other creatures were based on misinterpretations of actual evidence....
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