The Study Dude—Quacks

Are physicists quacks? Physicists’ theories should boil down to observations and measurements, right? The scientific method.  But wait, “There is as of yet no observational experimental evidence for many of the concepts of contemporary theoretical physics, such as super-symmetric particles, superstrings, the multiverse, the universe as information, the holographic principle …. For some of the wilder speculations of the theorists there can by definition never be any such evidence” (Baggott, location 68 of 6945, 1%).

Author and PhD Jim Baggott says, “This stuff is not only not true.  It is not even science.  I call it ‘fairytale physics’” (Baggott, location 68 of 6934, 1%).

But I think these theoretical scientists do have observational bases for their findings.  Simple observations.  The stuff of quacks.  For instance, if you squint your eyes in front of a light beaming from, say, a clock radio, you see strings of light.   Could such a simple observation have inspired string theory?  Who would admit it?  After all, “scientists don’t like us looking over their shoulders … as they fear that if we really knew what went on, this would somehow undermine their credibility and authority” (Baggott, location 11 of 338, 5%).

Isaac Newton’s apple seems an obvious example of inspiration from the simple.  And wavelets of sunlight reflected on my wall might offer a case for wave theory.

But do scientists hide their inspirations for fear of looking like hacks?  Perhaps, “they have chosen instead to abandon the obligation to refer their theories to our experience of the real world.  They have chosen to abandon the scientific method” (Baggott, location 108 of 6934, 2%).

So, what do theoretical physicists rely on when void of observational data?  “With no observational or experimental data to ground their theories in reality, these theorists have been guided instead by their mathematics and their aesthetic sensibilities” (Baggott, location 108 of 6934, 2%).

One math TA said mathematicians, like magicians, have long ago worked out what many Nobel-worthy physicists newly seek.  The TA went as far as to suggest that math covers the scope of all physical possibilities.  Take infinite dimensionality, for instance.   When physicists needed more than four dimensions, math geeks dished out equations for infinite dimensions.  So, if math covers all physical possibilities, that means there could be infinite versions of you.  You could have an IQ of infinity—or of negative infinity.  You could be infinite feet tall, and not just to an ant.  Thus, math broadens the playground of theoretical physicist quacks.

I’d love to learn how science hacks introduce wild theories.  This know-how could help me introduce my theory of motion parallax.  Motion parallax seems too gritty and raw to explain in a single article, so I’ll sum it in a sentence.  An example of motion parallax is when you drive down the highway and the nearby trees speed by faster than distant mountains.  My theory is based on such simple observable data.

I’d like to recommend a system for studying motion parallax.  I’d want to create a coordinate system, one that captures the “observed” motion of still objects relative to a moving observer.  I’d set multiple coordinate grids in motion, each representing an object in 3d space relative to a moving observer (and relative to other objects).

Currently, our coordinate systems are meant for stationary observers. I want to make a coordinate system for moving observers, which is a whole new field of study, in my opinion.

But I don’t know where to begin.  I achieved top grades in university math, but through solving problems, not through real-world applications.  So, how do physicists manipulate math to fit their theories?

One communications professor needed a formula for his research.  So, I sent him to a math professor.  He and the math professor worked out a formula together.  I, too, need to find a math professor to help me theorize my motion parallax coordinate system.

But my approach now is to do everything myself.  For instance, to make a documentary film, I’d aim to perform the camera recording, video and sound editing, production, and direction myself.  In other words, I need time to learn the different tasks.  That way, I won’t get hijacked by some creepy Pete.

To learn enough math and physics to make my motion parallax theory gain ground seems like a lifetime of work.

I told my first communications supervisor about my motion parallax theory.  She smugly tore my ideas apart—until I burst into tears, calling her a dream killer.  In my defense, “whenever historians examine the details of scientific discoveries, they inevitably find only confusion and muddle, vagueness and error, good fortune often pointing the way to the right answers for the wrong reasons.  Occasionally, they find true genius.  Theorizing involves a deeply human act of creativity.  And this, like humor, doesn’t fare well under any kind of rational analysis” (Baggott, p. 14 of 338, 5%).

But maybe it’s okay to publish a theory with unresolved issues. The issues may later get resolved.  And with Amazon, you can publish most anything.  After all, “’Nobody understands quantum mechanics,’ declared the charismatic American physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, with some justification.  And today, more than a hundred years after it was first discovered, the theory remains completely inscrutable” (Baggot, location 98 of 6934, 1%).


Baggott, Jim.  (n.d.) Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth. New York: Pegasus Books.

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