Thursday, August 23, 2007

Physicist bloggers getting cranky

I read a few physics blogs, and lately I think I'm seeing a bit of irritability. CV (Sean)'s post today hints at the trend ...
Ask a String Theorist! Or an Atomic Physicist. | Cosmic Variance.

..Aaron has begun to talk a little about the multiverse — here, here. He has thereby earned grumpy mutterings, rolled eyes, and “help” from some sensible physicists, some crackpots, some curmudgeons, his guest co-blogger, and even himself. I don’t quite understand what all the angst is about...
Bio-blogger crankiness is usually related to creationists. Creationists seem to leave physics alone (an interesting phenomena); the "crank" and the "crackpot" are the bane of physics bloggers. I think biologists have a legitimate complaint, but physicists protest too much. In the case of physics, the cranks have a case.

It's not that cranks are a good guide to physics, it's rather that physics is so weird that to an outsider the cranks are hardly less plausible than the science. Entanglement across the multiverse? Seems almost plausible.

It doesn't help that by nature and practice physicists are driven to contemplate the forbidden. Tests for "life in a simulation"? Answers to the Fermi Paradox? Rules for the least harmful use of the Bayesian anthropic principle (ok, so maybe the creationists do show up)? Physicists can't stay away -- but the very questions make even them irritable. Cranks like me only darken their mood.

Relax gang. Ignore your cranks and embrace your fundamental weirdness. It's a weird universe, and the crackpots are at home ...

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