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A while back, I answered yet another perpetual motion question. The post essentially asks whether or not you can extract work from Brownian motion, which I consider a good question because of how widely spread is misunderstanding of thermodynamic noise and the importance of the temperature of a thing's (electromagnetic) environment. Unfortunately, the accepted (and bountied!) answer is at best misleading and by my analysis is just wrong.

What, if anything and aside from downvoting, should/can we do about this and similar answers?

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  • $\begingroup$ While this issue is obviously more general than the physics site, I am wondering about this community's thoughts on the matter. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Jan 29 '18 at 3:42
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like I've seen this question here on meta before... $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Jan 29 '18 at 4:22
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Downvote and comment on the answer, explaining why it's wrong. Your comment could even suggest to the querent that they could remove their acceptance of the answer.

Also, you can post your own correct answer (which obviously you've done in this case).

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  • $\begingroup$ It's worth keeping in mind that there's several examples where the OP has left the site and deleted their user account, so they are unreachable and couldn't unaccept the answer even if they wanted to. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jan 29 '18 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's part of the reason why I'm opposed to the whole idea of accepting an answer, on physics.SE. It's basically meaningless. See my comments here $\endgroup$ – Dawood ibn Kareem Jan 29 '18 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @DawoodibnKareem Every technical SE community has its share of highly-upvoted or accepted wrong answers: there's not much one can do apart from pointing out the flaws. You don't want to spend your life chasing possibly wrong answers beyond a reasonable time commitment. $\endgroup$ – Massimo Ortolano Jan 29 '18 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ xkcd.com/386 $\endgroup$ – Dawood ibn Kareem Jan 29 '18 at 23:27

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