A Gravity Pit (for warping the SDMB and its purpose by being a bumptious prick)

Our resident polymath, Stranger on a Train, is, no doubt, a pretty smart fellow. He knows lots about lots with many here having remarked on the breadth and depth of his knowledge. I share their adulation, but only regarding his intellect and vast understanding. In terms of his “interpersonal skills”, or stated in a less contrived way, in terms of his manners, he is actually one of the more stupid people on these Boards.

What I mean by the last sentence above is nicely illustrated in this thread entitled, Gravity’s attraction and 2 ships attraction, which is currently active in GQ. As one often does when opening a thread in GQ, the OP of this one, kanicbird, implicitly admits his ignorance by posting the question. In this case the question was more of a very preliminary, almost intuitive, and absolutely non-rigorous description of a ‘new’ approach to gravity. Regardless, kanicbird, by posting it and posing it, was bascially saying, “Is there anything to this? I don’t know enough to take it further. Can you advise me. Can you teach me”. And, what responses did this ‘question(s)’ engender?

It is instructive to compare the good Chronos’ answer with that of the Stranger:

Note how Chronos has acknowledged (by alluding to Feynman) that, indeed, others have wondered along similar lines. But, he simultaneously sets kanicbird straight. All done without condescension or aggression.

Note the sarcasm and impatience displayed (“There is already a very elegant theory . . .”; “Invoking a nebulous aether . . .”). Not a terribly empathic way of responding to an honestly asked question. But, not totally jerkish. That came in his next post.

So, the OP is being “inane” for asking a (follow up) question and is criticized for not doing, or attempting to do, what only a trained physicist could (i.e. “no attempt at a rigorous definition of the mechanics and no conception of why said theory has been dismissed in the past”), and which he obviously has no chance of accomplishing (indeed, his OP itself proves it - Stranger has said as much in his dismissal of it).

I am always amazed that people can respond to another person’s honest request, or quest, for understanding in such a condescending and arrogant manner. After all, even to me, a person of much more modest abilities, it seems self-evident that you don’t attack a person for admitting they don’t know. On the contrary, you encourage them to ask. You find the kernel of “truth” or understanding in their question (to encourage them and reassure them that they’re not stupid), and use that as a starting point to teach them a thing or two.

I guess the ‘bottom line’ is that I’m disappointed that anyone can lambaste anyone else because the question they asked was “inane”. To me, that’s Pedagogy 101 and should therefore be known, or even intuited, by a person of Stranger’s enormous talents.

This has got to be the nerdiest Pit in the history of the SDMB by far. You are writing it like it is a letter to the editor of a major academic journal which this is not.

I do understand your point in general. It isn’t very fun asking someone about the best watch to buy and getting a lecture of the theory of relativity as part of that answer but Stranger on a Train doesn’t usually do that. The OP asked an actual physics question with real answers and work on done in that field. It was acknowledged that some prominent people offered theories that were similar to the OP and why they are wrong. If you ask a fundamental physics question in particular, you have to be prepared for what you get because it isn’t always intuitive at all and there aren’t good analogies that people can easily understand.

Both Chronos and Stranger on a Train are usually good at explaining things so that most people can understand them but sometimes there isn’t a good way. The level of insult you are pitting is completely dorky but you are a smart person too so you may be used to be feeling slighted by such things. Most people don’t.

Nice way of making it seem like those two Stranger posts came close to each other, after a simple question from kanicbird and one “followup” question. That’s not even close to what actually occured.

I’d recommend people read the thread before evaluating Stranger’s comments for bad manners.

Sorry Karl, but this is a very weak and unwarranted pitting. Surly you can think of someone more worthy?

kanicbird, in his long history on the SDMB, has demonstrated an innate inability to be honest. I guess the bottom line for me is that after your long history on the SDMB, you are unaware that kanicbird always posts with an agenda in mind, said agenda consisting of his unique view of God and spirituallity.

In fact, the post from kanicbird (which you did not quote) that Stranger is responding to mentions God, and you ignore the latter’s detailed refutation of the comparison in order to focus on the word “inane”.

The word “inane”, along with many other words available in the English language that demonstrate idiocy, monomania, and blatheringness in general, are perfectly appropriate to apply to the OP of the thread you reference.

He was nicer than the 3 or 4 posts I didn’t submit.

I was unaware of this (or had forgotten in my senescence).

Mr.Mod: As the OP, and as part of a long Pit tradition, may I ask that you please close this thread. My criticism is unfounded and the pitting is not appropriate.


Yeah, I just figured kanicbird was asking some fundamental (and as-yet unexplained and possibly unexplainable) questions about the nature of gravity in hopes of getting a “gotcha” moment where he says “if you admit you don’t understand gravity, how can you claim there’s no God?”
I was tempted to drive-by with “Gravity is Jesus, duh” but resisted.

I’m glad for a nerdy pit thread. It’s nice to see a pitting that could not have just as easily come from people with the ignorance we are trying to fight. I know that people tend to become stupider when they get angry, myself included, but it’s still refreshing to see someone keep a level head.

I do think it is a misrepresentation, though. Yes, using a loaded word such as inane is not a good idea, as it has negative connotations to the target, but it’s clearly just a verbal misstep.

I think that the OP may be a bit overly sensitive, since kanicbird is a poster that is often made fun of. But, by that same token, I think that means that kanicbird is made of tougher stuff. If he has a problem with it, he can report it.

ETA: Well, apparently I am wrong. The sensitivity is because the OP doesn’t know of kanicbird’s history. That said, I don’t think the right way to respond to kanicbird is with such passive aggressive tactics. If you want to call him inane, do so–don’t couch it in it just being his comments.

This is the second most off-target Pitting I’ve seen in the last two weeks.

Stranger on a Train is one of a diminishing group of valuable posters who actually contribute these things called answers and content to the Straight Dope Message Board. (for the record, the OP here, KarlGauss, is another excellent poster in that same vein). Stranger’s responses in that GQ thread were harsher than normal, but on-target, especially given the posting history of the person he was addressing.

Post #14 of that thread pretty much confirms that kanicbird was going for a “gotcha”.

What was passive-agressive about it? Stranger was both blunt and expressive in his refutation. Did you actually read the post?

No, kanicbird is being a moron a la Eco. First the dimwit mewls about how since we’ve never detected a graviton based on predictions from the extended Standard Model his fucking dumb ass idea of spacetime wave from undetected, hypothetical microworm holes which emerge from no theory at all is a much better path.

Does he ask about bulk graviton detection through gravity waves or how exactly quantum field theory can even be extended to cover such an incredibly weak force like gravity with sufficient confidence to warrant it’s general acceptance? Nope.

He mushes together some sciency words like microworm holes (proven! :rolleyes: ) and quatum tunneling in a bizarre triumphant anticlimatic ta da! Dummy.

Heh, yeah! What a dumbass! Right?

To me it comes across more as the almost-standardized, cold, detached tone of a peer criticizing a scientific paper. Not personally insulting, but indifferent to the writer’s feelings, and addressing nothing but the content of the writer’s opinions.

And, this is far from the nerdiest pitting ever.

Welllll…there have been some able competitors.

Yes, and he failed in his typically kanicky way, i.e. saying something stupid in a manner that suggests he thinks it’s brilliant. I don’t know why anyone indulges him.

My attempt was to ask a question about a pattern similarity noticed between gravity and the effects of 2 ships, also related to to plates and something I think is called negative energy. If anything it was a attempt to think for one self, and not take theories as truths. A thought experiment.

The replies show a strong bias against free thinking, a attempt to shut down those who do not conform to group think.

It’s up to you to decide, do we need encouragement or discouragement of free thinking, in particularly science.

Okay then. I have decided. Until you learn to think freely and analytically, you should stop posting about, in particularly, science.

I suggest a degree program in engineering or science at an accredited university. That would be a good start.

Please tell us the definition of “theory” when it comes to science.