Monday, December 13, 2010

Boyer's Law and engineer woo

Long time readers may remember A good article about physics crackpots, which quoted Pascal Boyer on the overrepresentation of engineers in the crackpot community.

Most physics crackpots are engineers. More than 95% of my sample boast engineering degrees, or combine an undergraduate maths/physics degree followed by an engineering PhD or equivalent. This is not too surprising, as this may be the only kind of cursus that provides one with enough math background to understand the equations and formulae in the textbooks without actually studying maths and physics - which would show the crackpot why he’s misguided.


We sometimes call it Boyer's Law. But it has been noticed by others. Check out Category:Engineer woo and Engineers and woo on RationalWiki. "Woo" or "Woo-woo" is a disparaging name for pseudoscience or crackpottery. They give the etymological origin

the use of "woooooo!" as a reaction to dimmed lights or magic tricks

but I have always thought it was onomatopœia for the synthesized vocal effect you hear beginning at 0:30 in the old Star Trek intro



and in other productions of that era, to suggest exalted mystery.

Be that as it may, El Naschie is an Olympian in the pantheon of woo engineers.

Someone at RationalWiki ought to add a page for Dan Winter, whose work El Naschie finds "extremely stimulating".



Dan Winter also has an engineering PhD. So does Ji-Huan He.




Blogger keeps deleting my comment so I'm putting it here:

You must be an engineer.

El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Tuesday, December 14. Lawrence «Liar». Original Arabic or Google's English translation.

El Naschie writes with disdain about Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia. It's often hard to tell where he's going in these multi-part columns, but I'm guessing he's going to start complaining next about perfidious Albion foisting Israel upon the Arabs.




As far as I can tell neither

http://knownissues.blogspot.com/search/label/comments

nor

http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help-troubleshoot/topics

contains any useful information, nor any way of submitting new bugs. What bug reports I see on those pages are (1) months or years old, (2) unresolved, and (3) not editable by me.

Translate English to Arabic
محمد النشائى El Naschie Watch محمد النشائي El Naschie News محمد النشائى محمد النشائي All El Naschie All The Time محمد النشائى
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12 comments:

  1. Well, I am fairly certain that a physicist trying to opine on engineering issues can sound just as ridiculous. And it's not like physicists (theoreticians & experimentalists) are particularly known for a humble understanding of the limitations of their expertise...

    ReplyDelete
  2. You must be an engineer.

    El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Tuesday, December 14. Lawrence «Liar». Original Arabic or Google's English translation.

    El Naschie writes with disdain about Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia. It's often hard to tell where he's going in these multi-part columns, but I'm guessing he's going to start complaining next about perfidious Albion foisting Israel upon the Arabs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not even close :)
    But I might be a non-engineer crackpot, taking offense at your giving them 95% of the credit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. > Blogger keeps deleting my comment so I'm putting it here:

    Isn't there some way you can report the bug and get it fixed once and for all (especially if you have a comment that systematically fails)?

    ReplyDelete
  5. If I knew whom to complain to I would.

    ReplyDelete
  6. > whom to complain to

    http://knownissues.blogspot.com/search/label/comments
    says
    "We take Blogger issues very seriously"

    ReplyDelete
  7. As far as I can tell neither

    http://knownissues.blogspot.com/search/label/comments

    nor

    http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help-troubleshoot/topics

    contains any useful information, nor any way of submitting new bugs. What bug reports I see on those pages are (1) months or years old, (2) unresolved, and (3) not editable by me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. See above. My comment is being deleted.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Test to see if deadening live links enables comment to be posted:

    As far as I can tell neither

    http://knownissues.blogspot.com/search/label/comments

    nor

    http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help-troubleshoot/topics

    contains any useful information, nor any way of submitting new bugs. What bug reports I see on those pages are (1) months or years old, (2) unresolved, and (3) not editable by me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. doesn't look auspicious:

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=3dcb02c83302034f

    ReplyDelete
  11. Haha yeah. Good find, though. No progress on the issue since 5 months ago. Affects all browsers. As would be expected, because the comment-destroying code runs on Google's own servers.

    As a workaround, it does seem that leaving links dead in comments helps, at least sometimes.

    ReplyDelete