Thursday, August 04, 2005

This American Life | A Little Bit of Knowledge

The July 22, 2005 episode of This American Life demonstrates that a little knowledge can be dangerous.

Act Three (starting at about 30:00 into the RealMedia recording) is the highlight here. Crackpot Bob Berenz comes up with a New! Theory! Of! Physics! that demonstrates that Einstein and Newton were complete losers.

John Baez appears and discusses his crackpot index, Alexander Abian, and Archimedes/Ludwig Plutonium.


At 8/28/2005 8:09 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Hmmm ... I took the test, but since there's no key I can't qualify my result. Am I condemned or redeemed? Could it be that you're labeled a crackpot if you score any points at all? Surely there are respectable papers that mention Einstein (sans comparisons to the author of the paper)!

At 9/25/2005 12:29 AM, Blogger Doug Simpkinson said...

It's more a degree than a yes or no question. Many people will score more than zero but still not be hardcore crackpots.

Oh, and if you think you get points just for mentioning Einstein, read the test more carefully - it's the misspelling "Einstien" that gets you points. Thus, your comment here doesn't indicate you are a crackpot.

If you leave a way to get in touch with you, I'd be happy to discuss further.

At 10/24/2005 6:17 PM, Blogger The Stand Up Physicist said...

I wonder how many point Dear Johnny B would give me. I am pretty sure he cannot stand me (I used to post a lot in sci.physics.research, one of his nerd hangouts). Yeah, I got me a theory to unify gravity and light, being discussed in a moderated forum (

I got tired of posting physics to SPR and getting rejected for reasons I still view as flimsy since the criteria for acceptance are suppose to be broad there, so I did something bigger: made a TV show. 14 episodes in the can, 12 on the way. If you want to see hard core nerd TV, check out Will be in Berkeley next weekend picking up an award for one of the shows, "Why Quantum Mechanics is Weird." The answer has to do with doing calculus correctly in 4D, not the "shut up and eat your statistics" force feeding known as the Copenhagen interpretation.

I did like the American Life broadcast. I got into a similar situation myself, were I read a guy's work on why Einstein was wrong, found the place where he made an error, pointed it out, and he just could not acknowledge a think I said, he kept repeating his line-o-blindness.


At 9/18/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger berenz said...

Assuming my research is flawed without examining even a tiny bit of it is not very scientific. Is it?


At 9/19/2006 3:17 PM, Blogger Doug Simpkinson said...

You're absolutely right, Bob. I'd be happy to examine some of your work - do you have a link you could post here? If you don't have a web page, you can email me at doug "at" douglips "dot" com.

I have to say that I based my derisive opinion on the little bits we heard on This American Life. Confusing units (i.e. E = mc) is a very common error, and sounds like a big flaw to me. Perhaps you have corrected this flaw since the show aired?

Anyway, as I said I'll be happy to review your work, but I merely have a bachelor's degree in Physics. You may have already heard all the criticism that I could bring to bear and then some. But I'm game...


At 7/17/2008 9:27 AM, Blogger Doug Simpkinson said...

Just a quick update, I never heard back from Bob. I don't fault people for not being internet savvy enough to build a web page, so I don't read much into his absence.

Bob, if you're still out there and you want to get your idea to have more exposure, email me. I'd be happy to build a quick web page with your theory on it, and I promise not to editorialize at all. I'd save any criticism for my blog.

Best of luck to you in any case...

At 1/20/2012 7:55 AM, Blogger Bob said...

I'm sorry for the delay but I just put up a website, I should have done it sooner; sometimes I'm reasonably intelligent and sometimes not so much.

Judge for yourself if my intelligence failed me on the physics.


At 5/25/2015 1:57 PM, Blogger Doug Simpkinson said...

Sorry I missed this, Bob - I have let this blog sit idle for several years and now it seems like your site is gone.

Here's one snapshot on the wayback machine:

I'm not sure I follow it fully, he explores kinetic energy and momentum, and it seems he's got his units right at first glance. Not sure where he's going with it though - I only see work = delta kinetic energy and impulse = delta momentum, which are already well established relationships. I might have missed something though.

At 6/02/2016 3:15 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

We seem to be playing a blog version of "phone tag" . The bottom line is that the formula for mechanical energy is assumed by all to be correct. And at the risk of alienating everyone more than I have; everyone also assumes momentum is equally valid. Both of these concepts have never met the standards of the scientific method. There are few physicists who know the original experimental evidence for mechanical energy but, not one of them sees the GROSS error in it. I can send you all sorts of stuff and I will if requested but only if it is wanted. You have my email address. Bob


Post a Comment

<< Home