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Dhruv Bansal @dhruvbansal
, 9 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1\ Physicists have a word "crank": a person who doesn't know physics but persists in promulgating their personal theory. Cranks pop in all fields of physics but especially in certain areas: quantum mechanics, field theories, relativity, cosmology, &c.
2\ Why these subjects? B/c they are abstract & esoteric. It's hard to crank in Newtonian mechanics because your bogus theory is easily disproved by direct human experience. It's easier to crank in quantum b/c few outside the tribe of physics really understand quantum mechanics.
3\ Bad cranks are just crazy people. But good cranks are interesting. Their work *looks like* physics (has math, equations, diagrams) and, because its engaging an abstract subject like quantum mechanics, can be mistaken for real physics by laypeople who can't tell the difference.
4\ Physicists can tell the difference b/c we are trained. We see broken arguments through the veneer of crank-math. We aren't awed by technical jargon such as "wave function". Our depth of knowledge protects us from falsity. So when we get an email from a crank, we recognize it.
5\ But what motivates cranks in the first place? The need to be perceived as brilliant. Cranks work in esoterica because its remoteness from experience allows them to convince themselves and their followings they are the next Einstein. Maybe even do a book tour and make some $.
6\ But what if, beyond intellectual recognition, there were *direct* monetary rewards in doing original physics? If you could make $100M if the world "bought into" your crank theory, how many more cranks would there be? I submit to you this is the situation in #cryptocurrency !
7\ Like physics, #blockchains are an abstract subject filled with specialized jargon. Good #cryptocranks push content which *looks like* a real project (has a "whitepaper", some GitHub links, maybe some math) and lay-investors buy into it b/c they can't tell the difference.
8\ If you believe in crank quantum mechanics the worst you will suffer is some magical thinking. But the consequences in #crypto are more tragic: you can lose your livelihood if you fall for #cryptocranks. How to protect yourself?
9\ #crypto requires depth: you must understand distributed systems, cryptography, economics, & politics. If you don't grok all these subjects (I don't), read people that do. Don't #DunningKruger yourself. Don't enable #cryptocranks. And maybe make friends with more physicists :)
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