Tuesday, May 17, 2005

How to Spot Crackpot Theories

During the last 2 weeks, I have been engrossed with the Manila Times endorsement of Mr. Edgar Escultura's claim that he has refuted Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's last theorem. Now, I am not a mathematician so I could not criticize Mr. Escultura's theories directly but I tend to recognize bullshit when I see it and the title of the article itself "UP Math prof proves Princeton man wrong" actually raised an alarm with my bullshit meter. Because if the title is correct, then, the internet would have been full of stories about it, I did a search with google, and no trace of this story has surfaced except in the Manila Times.

So I have spent the last 2 weeks trying to convince the Manila Times to "verify" the veracity of their story. I do not know if they will. I hope they do so, but I doubt it.

As an excercise I am linking to some sites that give us, laymen, some guide on how to spot crackpot theories. i leave the reader (if there are any) to decide whether Mr. Escultura's theory fits their description.


Top 10 Ways To Spot A Crackpot


Crank Physics Detection Guide

Russell Turpin's "Characterization of Quack Theories"

The Crackpot Index

5 comments:

sigfpe said...

The strange thing about this story is that Wiles's response is clearly sarcastic. I'm guessing that sarcasm like this doesn't translate well to other cultures.

Abe said...

Dear Roy,

I'm pleased to have found your site, as I have also been following this story, including your letter.

See my third of three posts here. There are links to the other two in there.

Can't write more now, as I am at work.

Best,
Abe

roy choco said...

dear abe,

yes I've read your posts and have been meaning to thank you. I have been trying to compose a letter that can describe my gratefulness(?) regarding your kind comments. Anyway, Thank you very much.

roy

Abe said...

I will write another post with a link to your blog. I'll try to do that tonight. Sometimes life interferes with blogging. [smile]

Has the Manila Times printed your second letter?

roy choco said...

Nope, the Manila Times have not printed my second letter and I doubt they will too.

They have acknowledge the criticisms, they have answered it and now they are moving on. The story buried and forgotten.