BoingBoing: Amateur Scientists vs. Cranks
Slides for the presentation are available here.
Dr. Dixon covers a number of topics also covered in this blog such as cranks and the Dunning-Kruger effect (Wikipedia, RationalWiki, SkepticBlog).
He classifies cranks into three 'Primary Colors':
And like primary colors, these can be mixed to cover other types of cranks.
He also raised the question of why so many cranks have an engineering background.
But best of all, he emphasized why we should teach about crank science:
- Crank science is a training tool for future scientists, and for a science-literate public. I've discussed this before and regard it as one of the primary goals of my efforts in this blog.
- It is important to deal with misconceptions before they become permanently ingrained in the thinking.
In the crank community, science is treated more like the 'critiques' in literature or philosophy classes with no real WRONG answer, where as math and science DO have right and wrong answers. This would explain why the cranks whine and complain so much about how they're treated by real scientists when criticism of other theories is EXPECTED in the real scientific community.
Other topics mentioned in the talk.