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Thread: Would it be possible to create a "misconceptions" section?

  1. #1 Would it be possible to create a "misconceptions" section? 
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    I notice that some people come to this site wanting to learn about physics topics, and so they start threads by presenting their own (usually inaccurate) understanding of the topic and then work from there. I think that is a very productive way to learn, and it ought to be encouraged. However, also the threads on this site need to have accurate information for lurkers.

    Instead of achieving accurate information by completely dismissing the poster's inaccurate statements and just telling them to "go read a book", perhaps it could be achieved by creating a section which is known to contain only misconceptions? Then a more productive dialogue can result, where the poster has the topic patiently explained to them in detail (assuming someone feels like explaining it).

    I think, from an emotional perspective, that it would sting less. They post their cobbled together mess of logic and snippets from popularization books, and instead of someone immediately showing up and telling them it's all wrong, they come back to see their post has been moved to the "misconceptions" section by the site moderator. The new location of their thread should tell them all they need to know. However, if they're still interested in discussing the topic, (or worse, if they're feeling argumentative) they can continue developing their understanding without negative effect.
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  2. #2  
    Administrator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    I am not so sure whether this can be made to work; usually, when people come on here to present their personal theories they are not prepared to listen and learn to what anyone else has to say. They just want to promote their stuff. It is very rare that someone comes on with a personal theory, and then actually listens to what is being explained. I am saying this as a long-time member on a number of science forums, not least of which is TSF.

    But I am prepared to listen to what the other members of TPF have to say to this - everyone, please leave your comments here. If the consensus turns out to be that such a section should be created, I will petition the Admin to do so. Personally I think it would simply amount to going back to having an "Alternatives" section, which is something we had decided to abolish some months ago; I think we are doing just fine without such a section, since genuine questions can always be asked in the main sections.

    I am looking forward to everyone's opinion.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member AlexG's Avatar
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    Surely we already have that in spades, over on thescienceforum.com
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Strange's Avatar
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    Not a bad idea. More of an FAQ. It could be useful for people who are "just asking" as well as for providing a quick counter to "personal theories" before they are locked and trashed. This could work here better than some other forums because of the strict rules on pseudoscience.

    I often find myself writing the same explanation over and over (and wishing I had kept the last one). For example, explaining why Hubble's law is just a simple result of geometry (and <sigh> nothing to do with dark energy). I'm sure the later versions have never been as good as the first one I did and put a lot of effort into.

    There could be simple "lay" versions and more technical versions by people like Markus. (Of course, Dr Rocket might veto any non-mathematical explanations ).

    If we do it, perhaps there should be some sort of review process before they are made "official".
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  5. #5  
    Administrator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    Not a bad idea. More of an FAQ

    So then, perhaps we should call it "Frequently Asked Physics Questions" rather than "Misconceptions". And I agree that such a section might make sense.

    Of course, Dr Rocket might veto any non-mathematical explanations
    DrRocket has left the forum due to a disagreement with another member; he hasn't participated since.
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  6. #6  
    Junior Member tcrosa27's Avatar
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    I'm in favor of the FAQ or misconceptions topic too that would be a nice way for newbies (like me) to start gettin' the WRONG stuff teached in high school right before university
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member MaxPayne's Avatar
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    Yepp, FAQs would be great.

    People like me, can just read all the Faqs headings before posting.

    FAQs should be provided in each section, otherwise it will get messy.

    Also Members can just give the links to these Faqs, if they don't feel like writing the same thing all over again.

    Think the moderator should be editing the titles of the posts(moved to FAQs), so that people can actually find what they are looking quite easily. Highlighting the Important bits spread across several replies can also help.Actually I am not good at giving apt titles to threads.
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  8. #8  
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    I realise I'm a new member but I have had quite a few years experience on other forums. I agree with Strange, a section like this would benefit the members all round.
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  9. #9  
    KJW
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    Perhaps the more knowledgeable members of the forum could put together misconception threads based on misconceptions they've encountered in discussions with other people.
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  10. #10  
    Administrator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJW View Post
    Perhaps the more knowledgeable members of the forum could put together misconception threads based on misconceptions they've encountered in discussions with other people.
    I agree. I proposed this before in the hidden moderator's section, but it was pretty much shot down. I'll bring it up again and see what happens
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