Talk:Eric Lerner

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Criticism section[edit]

I came to look at Eric Lerner's theories after seeing him mentioned in slashdot. However, the criticism section does neither point to a good refutation or reasoning why each of the critics dislike his theory. Unless each of them have done a longer treatise it is not so interesting to the reader to get listed numerous subjective opinions of scientists. I am agnostic to whether Lerner is on the right track here, but the criticism section is totally non-informative to me. --Benjaminbruheim (talk) 23:56, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

As his theories have no scientific support, it would be a violation of the proposed WP:FRINGE not to include refutations. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:28, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't see where that proposed guideline mentions "scientific support", or what source you're using to say that it has none; nonetheless, I agree that it would be improper to not include those refutations that are published in reliable sources. Arther, I hope you recall that I'm often on your side in preventing the inclusion of unsourced nonsense in math and science topics. But this Lerner stuff is sourced; whether he's totally wrong or not, he's trying to be scientific here in representing the ideas of a Nobel-prize-winning plasma physicist. It is not really appropriate to just call it pseudoscience as an excuse to mistreat it, as ScienceApologist does, and as in the policies he proposes. Let's fairly represent the ideas, and the reactions against them, and let it be. Dicklyon (talk) 22:43, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Benjaminbruheim. What I think needs to happen is a rewrite of the criticism section with an eye on context. I began workshopping some ideas, but got sidelined for a time. I would like to move away from direct quotation and try to write actual prose about the book, the controversy surrounding it, the critical reaction, and the dwindling impact that it has (not) enjoyed. I would like to have everyone here help in this regard. What say ye?

By the way, the BRD revert of Dicklyon was just a concern about WP:WEIGHT and nothing more. I actually don't like the section, but would prefer to keep it properly weighted before the overhaul happens.

I'll wait for other users to comment and then begin a workshop on Talk:Eric Lerner/BBNH section.

ScienceApologist (talk) 17:50, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

I think the weight problem is pretty much in the other direction. There are already plenty of well-sourced negative reviews; there's no need to also include and quote the poorly-sourced (self-published) ones. I believe it's a violation of WP:BLP to leave such a pile of criticism there.
As for rewriting without quotes, I don't disagree that the approach could work. But it would have to be done by someone with a balanced view. If you attempt it yourself, it seems unlikely that it could come out as acceptable. Dicklyon (talk) 04:46, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Do you mind not poisoning the well? It's in incredibly bad taste. Weren't you just banned from this article for behavior exactly like that? Hipocrite (talk) 12:12, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
While hoping for collaboration, due to the seemingly endless desire for debate indicated on this page, I decided to make a bold first pass at the rewrite. ScienceApologist (talk) 12:14, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it's bold. Actually, not too bad, I confess, except for the big aside about Wrights repudiations that interrupt the description of the book. So I took that out. A brief mention later might be OK. Dicklyon (talk) 07:17, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

It's not just Wright's repudiations, please don't fall into the particular attribution trap. In particular, though we use Wright as an excellent source for the repudiation, all the other critiques of Lerner proceed along the same lines. I'm fine with rearrangement, but outright removal is NOT okay. ScienceApologist (talk) 15:22, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

I tried to make it clear that it's not just Wright's repudiations using the citations and taking Wright's unique critique (basic errors) and moving it to Wright's section. ScienceApologist (talk) 19:50, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Good work. The linked topics are great for understanding the context and are educational in that they are thematic instead of technical. The arguments instead of judgment makes it easier to understand both the points of Lerner and his critics. I'm almost surprised! Good job again. --Benjaminbruheim (talk) 21:09, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

SA, since you wouldn't help with the problem, I went ahead and moved the paragraph and some of the excess less-reliable sources of criticism. I did it in separate small edits so that it will be easy to address them independently. It still seems that you have a strong focus on debunking in the middle of the section on the book; this is not really necessary; cite a few criticisms instead of trying to teach cosmology. Dicklyon (talk) 23:44, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Furthermore, the statement you just put back, "Professional cosmologists and physicists who have commented on Lerner's Big Bang critique have universally repudiated it," is inherently not sourceable. If someone says that you can link them and attribute it as a opinion or a finding. I took the whole paragraph out as inappropriate teaching in an attempt to debunk; there's no need for such essays when the criticisms are plain on their own. Dicklyon (talk) 23:49, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

If the criticisms made by Dr. Wrigth are explicit, Lerner's dispute should also be explicit. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 143.106.88.165 (talk) 13:28, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Book review section[edit]

I think this is a bit unbalanced. A biography page probably shouldn’t double up as a book critique.

I'd suggest we refer the book section to Editorial Assistance, to deem whether it’s even acceptable, for academic biographies to double up as critiques of their work (bearing in mind there is no community support being promoted, to counter). In it’s current state it could be left open to “conflict of interest” claims or an attempt to promote one cosmology theory over another.

A second suggestion, if it is acceptable,to simply balance the book section. Lines like:

“""physical cosmologists who have commented on the book have generally criticized it."


Are only supported by links to 2 rival theorists web blogs, an Amazon page, and a letter in a newspaper. Considering the cosmology community is one of several thousands – all with differing levels of support for big bang theory – I’d say the statement is far to heavily weighted. It should be changed to:

“Some physical cosmologists who have commented on the book have criticized it."

As that is what the sourcing supports. Nothing more. What’s more for balance purposes you’d also have to include the fact that some have also supported it.

I'd also suggest much of the review focuses on the criticism of Ned Wright. A noted EU critic. With differing theories of his own. It's not for us to pass judgement on which theorist is right. Both have support and critics.

What's more Wright's criticism, and counter (as far as I'm aware)is not peer reviewed, and hasn't been accepted by the community. Putting so much focus on one critic, without including either Lerner's retort to him, or counter-criticism of Wright's position by other academics, or counter support for Lerner's position, is straying into the realms of a personalised book "critique" of Lerner by Wright. As I stated, I think it needs to be balanced.

I'll try to balance it. I do also suggest Editor Assitance, and wider input, to decide whether a detailed book critique should even be included in a personal biography. Debates on the rights and wrongs of cosmology research should possibly be elsewhere. As far as I'm aware, a biography on a person should detail what that someone has done. Not cast opinion on whether it was right.

Cjmooney9 (talk) 14:06, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm not too happy with your changes.
  • I think the historical context of astronomy at the time of publication and subsequent developments is interesting and important (although somewhat problematical to present in an NPOV / RS way).
  • I think "there was favorable reaction from non-experts" is better sourced / more accurate than "received a favorable reception from the general public".
  • I have my doubts that "divided the scientific community" is an accurate characterization.
  • Your quote from the open letter makes it sound like that is commonly accepted fact ("they note that"), whereas the opposite is more nearly true.
--Art Carlson (talk) 15:15, 5 January 2010 (UTC)


I will revert the changes back. It needs to be discussed more, and my move was possibly a tad rash.I also suggest requesting Editorial Assitance, to get a 3rd party opinion in regards to the tone of the book review. And whether a detailed book review like that even has any place on a biography.

My main issue is the possibility that a biography is swiftly turning into an attempted rebuttal of the work, via an unessarily long, one sided, unbalanced, overly complexed book section.

A biography should detail what a person has done. Not attempt to pass, or influence judgement on whether it was right or wrong. Reading the book section I felt it was attempting to promote traditional cosmology POV, over Lerner's own. Not the job of a biography.

I suggest it's simply not accpetable to make claims to the affect that "most comologists critized his work" with the only source the opinions of 3 scientists. Let's remember, Lerner has his fair share of backers in the field as well. As stated, 250 prominent cosmologists signed his 2004 New Scientist letter, criticising big bang theory.

I fully understand the ongoing dispute between traditional cosmology and Big Bang denialists. My main fear being that this is moving on to biographies of individual figures involved in the dispute. And potential conflict of interest issues that could arise from this in the future. The book review as it stands is little more than an attempted rebuttal of the work in my opinion.

Cjmooney9 (talk) 16:18, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

I understand your reservations, I just can't figure out what to do about it. It does seem unusual to have this level of technical detail in a biography. Normally I would expect a brief summary and referral to the Plasma cosmology article, but Lerner is hardly even mentioned there. (Earlier versions of that article where very different.) I believe that there is no longer any serious opposition to the Big Bang among professional astronomers, but how can I prove such a statement? This is a common problem with fringe theories. Wikipedia policy basically says if a topic has not been widely discussed, especially in secondary and tertiary sources, it should not have an article. I think most of us would agree that this rule should not be applied too rigorously, but doing anything else is frought with difficulties. --Art Carlson (talk) 17:21, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree. Stephen Hawkins wrote the most famous popular science book of all time in 1988. This is how his wikipedia biography approaches his writing:

"Hawking's belief that the lay person should have access to his work led him to write a series of popular science books in addition to his academic work. The first of these, A Brief History of Time, was published on 1 April 1988 by Hawking, his family and friends, and some leading physicists. It surprisingly became a best-seller".

That's quite literally all that is written on the biography, about one of the most famous books in the world. It makes no attempt to pass judgement on it's merits. Or it's success. Or it's failings. Or even discuss it's themes for that matter.

I'd suggest that debunking/reviewing a popular science title, and at the same time discuss/promote alternative scientific POV, maybe has a place on wikipedia. But it certainly isn't on personal biographies.

I think that the only mention of books on biographies should be acknowledgement that it was written, and possibly a very brief summary about the topic - casting no opinion or aspersions on the content. On the principle that this is POV. And a personal biography is not a platform to debate/discuss/debunk/criticise theory.

Personally, I'd suggest that the book section shouldn't even exist. Like on most academic pages. Making a big deal about a book on a biography in my opinion is little more than trying to set it up for a critique. I'd suggest that the book is just mentioned, as part of the general biography - as in the Hawkins biography.

I think I should request Editor Assitance to discuss the section, and whether it's acceptable for a personal biography. To get a 3rd party opinion on the page as it stands, and it's history. And then make the changes, if the consensus opinion supports this.

Or we could just go on the basis of this open discussion, once there is a bit more feedback. I think a 3rd party is still useful however. So I may get the ball rolling on that.

cheers for the reply. Agreed with a lot of what you said. Think the principle point is opinions, POV, aspersions, incinuations on the merits of theory don't belong on personal biographies. Personally, like most academics, I have no idea why this biography is longer than about 10 lines. He's not really done that much academically. You have guys like Roger Penrose, who've published 10x as much, who have less detailed pages!


Cjmooney9 (talk) 01:21, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Lerner's biography is so long because he has followers (outside of academia) that created and expanded it. If you are interested in Lerner for other reasons, you might like to learn about his education or civil rights activities, but none of those are things that would get you an article in Wikipedia. His only claim to fame is his book (and possibly his fusion work), so it makes some sense that it takes up a good portion of the biography. (Stephen Hawking is different for a million reasons, but the most important in this context is that his book has its own page: A Brief History of Time. BTW, Roger Penrose is not "less detailed", but is - Thank God! - roughly twice as long. And there are separate articles on 3 of his books.) Where does that leave us? Still don't know, but if you can get a 3rd party interested in helping us, that would be great. --Art Carlson (talk) 10:02, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

SPS rebuttal[edit]

I removed this SPS rebuttal because it gives the impression of a false balance between the two viewpoints, contrary to NPOV. Can you please explain why you have restored it. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:02, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Are you talking about this [1] change you made? Likely so, but if so I don't know what an "SPS rebuttal" is, so I have no idea what you are talking about. Aarghdvaark (talk) 14:19, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
A rebuttal from an WP:SPS. In this case it's a self-published fringe rebuttal to a mainstream comment, IRWolfie- (talk) 14:38, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
1) Lerner wrote a book: "The Big Bang Never Happened". 2) Edward L. Wright wrote a rebuttal: "Errors in the 'The Big Bang Never Happened' " - a self published source (SPS). 3) Lerner wrote a rebuttal to Wright's rebuttal: "The Big Bang Never Happened: Dr Wright is Wrong" (as you point out, also a self published source). A nice sequence where the interested reader can read the arguments for and against for themselves. Deleting Lerner's rebuttal (your "SPS rebuttal") on the grounds that "it gives the impression of a false balance between the two viewpoints, contrary to NPOV" is clearly bonkers wikilawyering. And the wikilawyering about SPS is clearly also bonkers since Wright's rebuttal is also a SPS. How to win every argument - not allow your opponent an opportunity to reply. This is censorship and seriously erodes the standing, utility and value of Wikipedia. Aarghdvaark (talk) 15:39, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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External links modified[edit]

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Chief scientist[edit]

Regarding this revert: diff, the statement:

  • ...chief scientist of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc.[1][2]

References

is cited to two primary sources. That's why I used "self-described" to the front of "chief scientist". Who appointed Lerner to be the chief scientist? Are there 3rd party reliable sources that describe him as a scientist? K.e.coffman (talk) 02:22, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for taking this to the talk page. (I wish more editors were doing that here, hint, hint.) The way I see it, it's just the place where he has set himself up (nothing like, for example, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory). So it's not like an important honor. And the title does not otherwise make him a "scientist", so what needs sourcing is simply that it is his title. For WP:Academic pages, we generally accept primary sources associated with the subject for simple biographical facts, but not for subjective evaluations of significance. So I do not think "self-described" belongs there. --Tryptofish (talk) 02:30, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
@Tryptofish, I agree with you that this is the correct place for this discussion. What I have seen increasingly happening over at the WP:Fringe theories/Noticeboard is that editors are using the page as a "call to arms" - a sort of "Hey guys, I have seen this article which looks a bit fringy/pseudoscience. Can we have more eyes on it". This leads to discussion about the article at the noticeboard, rather than the relevant Talk page. Just my observation. DrChrissy (talk) 17:04, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Can we discus the article?Slatersteven (talk) 17:12, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Slatersteven, sometimes issues arise in a thread which are slightly off-topic. Within reason, it is acceptable to discuss these, usually indicated as being slightly off-topic by being in small-face type. This is exactly what I did. Apparently chiding editors for not sticking exactly to what you would like the discussion to be will not win you friends. DrChrissy (talk) 22:04, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, DrChrissy, for the comment. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:03, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Would it then be simpler to say "founder and president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics"? This would leave out the self-designation. K.e.coffman (talk) 02:34, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Personally, I don't care one way or the other about that, although if he self-describes that way, it may make better sense to leave it in. Depends on what other editors, who seem to care a lot about the word "scientist" here, think. --Tryptofish (talk) 02:42, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Seems to me that if we indicate he is president and founder of the company where he is also "Chief Scientist", most readers will be able to tell that this is his designation rather than some sort of appointment. I think "self-described" doesn't quite capture what happened since titled positions in his company, presumably, are subject to formal declaration either for regulatory or tax purposes. jps (talk) 12:38, 8 February 2017 (UTC)


How is the space show a primary source, is it his show?Slatersteven (talk) 13:22, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Well, it is a primary source in the sense that it is an interview and they interviewers are not attempting any factchecking or analysis, as far as I can tell. jps (talk) 15:17, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
So it is in fact a secondary source, and it is not an interview it is a biography. The interview is a separate article on their site.Slatersteven (talk) 16:06, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
We don't know that they didn't do any fact checking. If the space show is an otherwise reliable source (and that is up for debate from where I sit, unless there's an existing consensus about it), then they made this claim secondary by making it in their own words, rather than including it as part of a quotation from him. That being said, I don't doubt they asked him what his title was before writing this. But a secondary source is one who takes info from primary sources and analyses it, which seems to be the case here. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:20, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
I didn't mean to imply that his title of "Chief Scientist" actually needs any fact checking. However, the actual content of the interview is rather, um, disappointing in terms of fact checking. jps (talk) 20:05, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Another source [2], I think this is RS.Slatersteven (talk) 13:26, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Isn't this a blog? jps (talk) 15:17, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Possibly, but he is on their staff as a science writer [[3], so it may be RS.Slatersteven (talk) 16:02, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
In the area of plasma cosmology, I have found that "science writers" have been less-than-reliable narrators for what is and isn't correct. jps (talk) 20:10, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
How about this? [4]?Slatersteven (talk) 16:06, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
The Capital Letters certainly indicate that his title is "Chief Scientist". I think we can be satisfied that this is actually what his title (or, at least, one of his titles) is! jps (talk) 20:03, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
As I said earlier, this isn't a big deal to me (and indeed if someone is president and founder, then they are clearly high-ranking in the organization, whether or not we also add the chief scientist title), but it continues to seem to me that saying that sources associated with the page subject describe his title as "chief scientist" is altogether a different thing than saying in Wikipedia's voice that he is a scientist, and consequently, the sourcing standards become much lower. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:03, 8 February 2017 (UTC)