Talk:Tom Van Flandern

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RFC on Tom Van Flandern's Deep Reality Physics[edit]

Operation Moonwatch - Undue Weight? Dennis Smith?[edit]

The current article seems to have become weighted down with coverage of "Operation Moonwatch", which was sort of like the Boy Scouts for amateur sky watchers in the late 50s and 60s. Just having been a Boy Scout, or even an Eagle Scout, with lots of merit badges for starting fires and tying knots, etc., isn't really a notable achievement. The Wikipedia article on Project Moonwatch lists only one "prominent person" who participated in Moonwatch and later went on to have a career in science, namely James Westphal, but the article on Westphal doesn't even mention Moonwatch... and rightly so, because it's a rather trivial thing - not that being an eagle scout is trivial to the people involved, but in the larger scheme of things, it isn't really significant. In contrast, this article on Van Flandern has a large image of a silly Moonwatch sign (which was created at the urging of Van Flandern's long-time friend Dennis Smith), and 4 of 10 External links are to Moonwatch articles. None of this is related to the subject's notability. I think we ought to trim back some of the Moonwatch stuff, especially since it seems to be focusing more on Dennis Smith rather than Van Flandern. If someone wants to create an article for Dennis Smith, they should propose that separately.Urgent01 (talk) 07:28, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

I'd like to know where you are getting all this from, or it your personal opinion? There are already several sources on this page listed such as, Xavier University, and the Ohio Historical Society that all say the program and the participants were pretty special, especially the part under Tom's direction which is what we're talking about here. You blabbering about them all being friends and inflating their egos and the program wasn't special sounds like your opinion to me.StarHOG (talk) 16:10, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm getting much of "all this" from the links in the article, e.g., the joint interview with Van Flandern and Slabinski, and the embarrassing articles about Moonwatch.
I think I can speak objectively about it, because I had no personal involvement in "Operation Moonwatch". If I had been personally involved in it, especially if I had been a personal friend of Van Flandern's in the Moonwatch activities, I would recuse myself immediately from this discussion, since I wouldn't have the objectivity necessary to edit this article. Also, the fawning articles that energetic boosters like Dennis Smith have managed to get into the local papers on this subject are not very high quality sources, because they are not independent and not peer reviewed. None of the personal reminicences of by-gone days that these boosters manage to get printed in local papers is subject to rigorous fact checking (and how could they check, since it's just the memories of old friends). Those papers are not scientific journals, they are just reporting human interest stories. When you say those papers all say "the participants (in Moonwatch) were pretty special", well, I would say my grandma Edna was "pretty special", and I could probably get an article about her into the local paper here, and even a commemorative plack placed somewhere around here for her good deeds. Who is going to object? But that wouldn't justify making an Wikipedia article about her.
Wow, I tried to help edit this article with a new user ID to try and reduce the amount of hateful banter that I thought my Akuvar user ID was drawing, but I see now it isn't me you want to argue with, you are ready to rip anyone a new one for trying to improve the article and you'll play your old tricks with anyone, deleting the entire asteroid naming citation from the article because you can't have your way and insert your belittling comments about how easy it is to get an asteroid named after you. To actually accuse this new ID, StarHOG of having a personal interest and should recuse himself must be the most hypocritical thing I've ever read from you. I am tired of your personal vendetta against Van Flandern, you couldn't shut him up in real life so you try to do as much damage to him now that he can't defend himself. We've been at this for almost 5 years and it has made me weary....but I think you thrive on it, which is a fantastic testament to your hatred of the man.Akuvar (talk) 00:37, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you've addressed any of the issues with the article. Again, I think the asteroid citation is not suitable, because it contains unsourced claims, such as improving the accuracy of the GPS, which are not supported in any independent source. If you can find an independent and reputable source saying that Van Flandern improved the accuracy of the GPS, then that would be good to put in the article. But the asteroid naming citation (written by his close friends soon after his passing) does not qualify as a suitable source for those claims. Remember, this is not a fond obituary of a dear friend, it's an encyclopedia article with certain standards of notability and verifiability.Urgent01 (talk) 01:29, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I say again, let's tone down the coverage of the boosterism organized by Van Flandern's personal friends. This article is not about Operation Moonwatch, nor about Van Flandern's friendship with Dennis Smith.Urgent01 (talk) 17:24, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Proving Him Right?[edit]

The second last sentence currently reads "However, the consensus of the scientific community is that "The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe." " From what can be understood as TVF's position, he would likely not see this as a contradiction of his own position which was largely that an established 'consensus' falsely drives the popularity of its accepted theories in a sort of self-fulfilling faith that scientists are frightened to deviate from - partially rooted in disconnected expertise within science's various specialisms, and partly rooted in fear of ridicule by peers. One of his concerns seemed to be that 'consensus' generated a sort of blindness to truly critical appraisal, as well as a constant bias towards the 'consensus'. Hence the opening word - 'However' - is at least inappropriate unless one wants to confirm the bias of which he speaks. Certainly the current use of the word 'consensus' in the current text strongly supports TVF's position. To state the obvious, not ALL scientists accept the Big Bang theory. Here is suggested replacement text for the whole last paragraph: "Majority opinion within the scientific community is that The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation so far for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe. Van Flandern's alternative explanation for this majority opinion might be that it is simply ongoing proof of his belief that established ideas are hard to shift. But as far as most of the scientific community is concerned, since the conception of the Big Bang theory, abundant evidence has arisen to further validate the model." (By the way, I'm no TVF follower but the existing text actually supports his case as much as it tries to criticize it - exactly because it fails to be suitably circumspect as regards why scientists think whatever they think. Maybe somebody will make the change as I'm a bit of a rookie on WikiP and don't want to screw things up). (talk) 17:52, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

I think your comments are valid. I'm not sure if the existing paragraph or your new one even belongs in the article. The opening paragraph says he didn't hold with the big bang theory, and people can click on that word to be taken to the wiki page and find out (if they didn't already know) that the big bang is the currently-accepted theory. To add a paragraph that does nothing to explain the subject, only points out that his opinions didn't go with the mainstream, seem out of place. Also, these kinds of statements cannot be properly cited or referenced, they are just statements about the obvious. I am removing the current paragraph from the article. Whoever placed it there improperly referenced a wiki article on the big bang (we don't like to use wikipedia as a reference for wikipedia articles, it creates a circular problem).StarHOG (talk) 21:18, 9 December 2014 (UTC)