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September 24th, 2010

Where’d Everybody Go?

I suppose it’s inevitable that every explosion leads to a scattering, and the world of internet communications seems to be no exception. Once upon a time instant messaging was almost a nuisance and internet forums, even on obscure topics, were lively places.

But now … where is everybody? Livejournal, once a buzzing hive of activity, is quiet and slightly lonesome. Facebook, which has always been an incomprehensible mess, is useless for actually connecting with anybody, and Twitter, while a fun way to eavesdrop on celebrities and share cool links around, is an oddly stilted way of communicating with the world.

Granted, I am famously an introvert. But it’s not like I never want company — I just want it kept in manageable doses. Where once I had to throttle back my online connections in order to keep them meaningful, now I sometimes feel like I’m standing in an empty field shouting in the hopes of getting someone to hear. Is there no middle ground between flood and famine?

It’s not just online, either. People who were once close buds have in the past year drifted off and don’t respond to greetings. Friends who wandered into my life unexpectedly have or are in the process of wandering back out again, and it feels like even my artistic colleagues have rather spookily gone quiet.

Does anybody else feel this way? Are we all in little internet echo chambers, now? Where has everybody gone?

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Dear Crackpot Theorizers:

I love you guys, really I do. I love your creativity, your ingenuity, and your ability to think outside the box.

But! First, you need to get off that "The scientific establishment has TOO MUCH AT STAKE to give my ideas any credence! They'd have to THROW AWAY A HUNDRED YEARS of bad science!" mantra. Besides the fact that it makes you look like a whiner, it also undermines your credibility.

The "scientific establishment" (such as it is) throws away disproved theories all the time, but if and only if there is rigorous and compelling reason to do so. Real scientists love it when they see things they don't expect; they let out a whoop and a yell and get on the phone for more funding to come up with an explanation. The "scientific establishment" (such a wonderfully vague badguy) is not DESPERATE TO KEEP {insert theory here} QUIET. They're not DESPERATE for anything, in fact. But they do insist on hard numbers and better evidence than your intuition.

All of which tells me that if you spend your time bashing a conspiracy of science to keep you down, instead of showing your numbers, you don't actually have anything of substance and are trying to get by on a lot of heat.

And while we're at it, watch out for saying "We KNOW this MUST be true!" ... especially when you're spouting pseudoscientific gobbledegook. "We KNOW that Jupiter MUST be at least TEN TIMES OLDER THAN THE EARTH -- and therefore Earth was PLACED HERE BY ALIENS!" just doesn't impress anybody. It's also not how science works. Real science, if it were to say such a thing, would instead say, "Current data indicates that Jupiter is ten times older than the Earth, which suggests that the Earth has a significantly different origin." [1]

Very often, the sideline stuff being dismissed with "we KNOW this MUST be true" is either mischaracterized, misunderstood, or just plain wrong; therefore using it as a prop for your primary theory is like building a house on a bad foundation. It might stand, but why risk it?

Finally, if you really want your particular crackpot idea to have any weight, look at the data that's used to refute it, because in the long run, that's your real enemy. If you want to prove to the world that the Earth is dramatically expanding over time, a computer model is great — but what you really need is a way to explain how that fits in with existing measurements that suggest the Earth may have actually shrunk. If you want to convince people that the planets of the solar system once orbited like a daisy chain with the sun at one end and Saturn at the other, with a cloud of glowing plasma uniting them all ... you're going to have to show how so much vegetation evolved dependent on night/day cycles and very precise seasonal changes that only work with Earth going around the sun (and at a very specific angle of "wobble"). (Not to mention the total lack of any other such structures in the observed cosmos.) These are the things that are keeping your theory from being taken seriously ... not the editorial in "Journal of the Scientific Illuminati" in which Stephen Hawking said you were a moonbat.

I trust, being the rational visionaries that you are, that you will all heed my advice and this will lead to a golden age of scientific inquiry.

If not ... YOU MUST BE ONE OF "THEM"!

-The Gneech

[1] NOTE: As far as I know, data doesn't actually indicate that Jupiter is older than the Earth. I just made it up for purposes of discussion. Although that would be very interesting if it did!

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