The "being unreasonable" tactic…

Until yesterday, my approach to get some help with publication of my pet theory had been to ask for advice, as politely as possible, sending only one, rarely two e-mails, and giving a lot of time for response. Basically, the approach that usually gets you results pretty quickly in the software community. Naturally, my questions evolved a lot with time, as the formulation of the TIM matured.

From one polite tactic to the next

Initially, I was wondering about this or that technical point, finding someone who had published on related topics, and asked the question.
I never got an answer.

Later, I simply pointed folks to the draft du jour, sometimes with an abstract, trying to highlight how it related to their own work. I normally did not send the article as attachment but as a link, to avoid polluting mailboxes. Again, normal netiquette.
The vast majority still did not respond, but I got a couple of answers, and they meant I’m too busy

Later still, as someone pointed out that simply downloading each article received would be a full time job, I switched to a third tactic: asking questions about this or that logical problem found in some of their work.
Boy, did that totally fail to evoke any reaction… That was puzzling. You see, if for example you go an tell Linus Torvalds that he’s wrong, here is the kind of answer you get: sharp, precise, deadly. So it is fair to say that a total lack of reaction from any of these big guys to my challenge was a bit of a surprise to me.

Finally, I decided that the only thing left to do was to publish, with the assumption that, at least, someone would read it and give an opinion. It took me a while to find some place to publish: there are many journals, but most are really specialized (e.g. high-energy particle physics), a lot of them also charge for being an author (a bit surprising to those of us used to being paid for writing technical articles), and many have pretty explicit limits on contents, notably regarding the number of pages. In the end, after spending a couple of days looking, I found one match.
As I wrote yesterday, this did not work too well either. Too long, not urgent, rejected.

In conclusion, overall, this was an abject failure. In 2 years, I did not get a single answer, not even on questions like: where can I publish something like this, a question which is totally obvious for a researcher who spent a life writing articles, and rather difficult to answer for me. And the only place I knew of that in theory could accept the paper did not.

Blowing a fuse?

So I tried another strategy. What about simply blowing a fuse, and sending a big long rant to all these people who had never answered any of my questions, and asking basically “Hey, what’s wrong with you guys”?

Guess what: it worked much better than the earlier tactics. Within 24 hours, I had a lot more information. I do not recommend this technique in general, and I publicly apologize for using it. But at least, it finally allowed me to make just a little bit of forward progress.

Let it be said, many of these guys are actually pretty nice. But they are also waaaay too overloaded.

2 thoughts on “The "being unreasonable" tactic…

  1. I haven’t yet looked at your ideas, but the vast majority of amateur contributions to physics are worthless. Physicists are inundated with them and do not have the time to answer them.A few years ago I came to the conclusion that special relativity is wrong. This idea is enough to get you well ignored. But I worked out some consequences to this idea.Eventually I figured out how to extend a formula by Koide that had been discussed in the physics literature for years. While no one liked the way I found the generalized formula, my formula has been noticed by physicists. I now have 4 citations in the peer reviewed literature, this despite having no publications of my own, not even an arXiv preprint.What I’m saying here is that you can get physicists to pay attention to what you are doing. But you have to fit your work into something that they’re already working on. If you blunder onto a fact that they have overlooked, a usesful and interesting fact that can be further discussed, they will reference you and write papers extending your work.The real problem is that there is such huge amounts of physics written every day that no physicist has the time to read even a tiny fraction of it. Of course they will only pay attention to your stuff if it applies to what they are working on. That’s how they treat everyone’s work, amateur or not.Best wishes. I look forward to reading your correspondence with the “rants”.

  2. Hi Carl,I am glad you came here, because I remember skimming through your paper on the Koide mass relation in 5 minutes, thinking “I need to take more time to see if I agree with it”, and then totally forgetting where I had found it😉 Now I get another chance.Since you mentioned you thought SR was wrong, I tried to find what you meant with that. Based on a very quick read of a_ptg.pdf, I’m just beginning to see what you mean. But I have to spend more time reading your work before commenting in any meaningful way.

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