Why is it that crackpots get so much air time? Is it because they yell louder than anyone else?
While that is probably true (non-crackpots see the world logically, and don’t understand how it could be any other way. Hence, no yelling.), the factor driving the publicity engine is controversy. The media loves controversy because it is usually fueled by emotion, and emotion gets peoples’ attention.
I just received a press release for Terence Witt’s book “Our Undiscovered Universe”, his treatise on the physics of the universe. The book and the ideas it contains have been reviewed elsewhere at length, and found to be lacking theoretical soundness. So, I will refrain from discussing the ideas here.
However, I think it is important to consider how different individuals within the media institution might react to a press release like the one I received.
This is [name redacted] and in a few weeks Terence Witt will be releasing his new book through Emerald Book Company. In it he is disputing the Big Bang Theory and it is called Our Undiscovered Universe. This is an issue we all have a stake in. Where do we come from? Is it possible the universe was always here? Let’s have a thought provoking discussion. Mr. Witt would be happy to take the side that the universe always existed.
Terence Witt is a visiting scientist at Florida Institute of Technology and is work was recently publishing by Physics Essays. He resides in Melbourne, Florida and is the former CEO of Witt Biomedical Corporation.
You can learn more at www.OurUndiscoveredUniverse.com. I would be happy to set up a debate.
The first things I notice are the attempt to create personal controversy – we all have a stake in how the universe was formed, not just scientists! – and then to get me to agree to a debate or “thought provoking discussion.” Now, these tactics set off my alarm bells, and I immediately check his credibility to find that he is mostly self-published. He has yet to publish in Arxiv, and only white-papers are available on his websites. He does have a single paper related to his renegade ideas published in “Physics Essays” as of last year.
I wonder if an uninformed producer would see the same potential problems to booking Mr. Witt for an interview? Instead, they might see the controversial hook as appealing, and the idea of a debate as beneficial (it is always good to present all sides of a story).
The tactics used in the press release are one reason why pseudoscience continues to make such an impression through the media. Shouldn’t real-science publicity efforts use similar methods in order to be heard?