These are some basic principles I use to help sort through the various topics and suggested explanations. Using them can simplify discussions.
Briefly, the Dunning-Kruger (DK) effect is the erroneous self-assessment of skill, knowledge, or other qualities in a field that is not the person’s area of expertise. This can be laymen grappling with an unfamiliar discipline, or experts who have strayed from their own fields into others. The DK effect is partly due to the person not knowing enough to understand the difficulties and complexities of the unfamiliar field.
Conspiracy theories strike me as an attempt to hold on to a cherished idea when there is insufficient evidence to support it. Rather than consider that the idea is wrong, a person clings to it and invents reasons to explain the lack of evidence.
Before There Was Photoshop
In 1917, two girls borrowed their father’s camera and took some photos in their back yard. When the photos were developed, they showed several fairies dancing and playing in the yard as the girls looked on. For the first time there was photographic evidence that fairies exist.
In 1989, chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann reported that they had achieved cold fusion. “Cold fusion” refers to a type of nuclear reaction that takes place at temperatures far below the several million degrees that are usually required for the reaction. It’s not known whether cold fusion is possible. When the report came out it garnered enormous media attention. Fusion would be a source of cheap and relatively safe energy. Any process that could generate fusion energy – cold or otherwise – is big news.
Until recently, the Sphinx wasn’t considered much of a mystery. There it sat, right by the Great Pyramid, a large but ordinary-looking sculpture located close to one of the most mysterious structures ever built. Sure, the Sphinx might have a hidden chamber or two, but mostly it was just this big statue carved out of the rock, no more mysterious than Mt. Rushmore.
I find it annoying when people accuse those who disagree with them of being stupid, crazy, afraid, or otherwise flawed. The assumption seems to be that no one could possibly disagree with them on rational grounds. This is arrogant bullshit.
Over the years, I’ve been told over and over again that we only use 10% of our brains – and how wonderful it would be if we could learn to use the other 90%. Sometimes the numbers vary – down to 7%, as much as 20% – but there was always the idea that we could multiply our mind power 5 to 10 times. Imagine how powerful we’d be then.
In 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays while playing around in his laboratory. The discovery made enormous contributions to physics and other sciences. Röntgen received the first Nobel Prize for Physics his work. It also triggered intense interest in rays of all kind, real or imagined.