John Timmer explains some experiments in physics that have exposed some unexpected behavior by protons. Read that article to get the story, but this little bit jumped out at me as universally applicable to all science.
This may sound like a minor puzzle, but remember that the proton’s radius is tied into theories like the Standard Model, so the result suggested that there might be something wrong with our understanding of some basic physics. Theorists, naturally, responded with enthusiasm and developed some new models that added an additional fundamental force that influenced the muon’s interactions with the proton.
Show a scientist a problem, a real problem with data to back it up, and scientists naturally respond with enthusiasm. That’s the Standard Model of Scientific Behavior.
When scientists respond with a groan and a facepalm when you tell them your new theory for how humans evolved, or how chi flows through the body, or how to cure cancer with mango smoothies, or worse, announce that your scientific explanation is invalid because it doesn’t include the Bible or the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita, it’s because you don’t understand how science works. Real difficulties with an idea get us worked up and excited. Imaginary difficulties lacking in substantial evidence are uninteresting and mean we have to shoo away an annoying loon.
We’ve already confirmed that some people are irrational and ignorant. That observation has been replicated repeatedly and doesn’t enthuse anyone at all.
Related: here’s a professional physicist who consults with self-taught “theorists”.
The majority of my callers are the ones who seek advice for an idea they’ve tried to formalise, unsuccessfully, often for a long time. Many of them are retired or near retirement, typically with a background in engineering or a related industry. All of them are men. Many base their theories on images, downloaded or drawn by hand, embedded in long pamphlets. A few use basic equations. Some add videos or applets. Some work with 3D models of Styrofoam, cardboard or wires. The variety of their ideas is bewildering, but these callers have two things in common: they spend an extraordinary amount of time on their theories, and they are frustrated that nobody is interested.
She charges $50 for 20 minutes of consulting, in which she directs them towards current literature and advises them on the deficiencies in their background that they need to fill. I’ve had so many of these kinds of people harangue me with their ideas and objections to evolution, but I never realized I should be charging for the service.
Except, for $50 they’d probably expect me to be nice.