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A recent question Are Stephen Crothers' claims legitimate? has made me very uneasy. I will explain why:

  1. First of all, this question is too open ended. I visited Crothers' website, looked through a lot of the papers and correspondence (mostly for my amusement) and discovered that he has a LONG list of arguments against the existence of Black Holes, the Big Bang and tonnes of other mainstream ideas in astrophysics and cosmology. I saw the first video the OP linked too and there were many claims made there too.

  2. It seems the OP desires a simple explanation. This is almost impossible without going into technicalities of the Schwarzschild solution and other concepts in GTR, owing to the nature of Crothers' arguments. One can just look through the exchanges Crothers' had with many scientists, some of whom took great effort to dissect counter his arguments, to see how time-consuming this will be.

  3. Beginners looking at this question will see: i) Videos and papers of a man putting forth his 'bold' arguments. ii) No answer technically detailed enough to dissect all the claims given in the links. This will give beginners the impression that Crothers' has a legitimate claim to make in completely dismissing and trashing the foundations of black holes and cosmology. This could potentially mislead beginners.

  4. SE is ranked high in Google searches. This will create more publicity for Crothers' and Co.

I tried flagging the question. Manish told me that he would appreciate a discussion on this topic before deciding what to do with it.

Also I have nothing against Crothers' and Co. personally and it is only after reading his emails exchange, papers and watching his videos have I come to realize the true danger of giving too much attention to people like him (who are totally closed-minded). I only hope my question on Meta doesn't publicize him further. If it does, I will probably delete it.

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    $\begingroup$ Readers: To be clear, while I don't like the question, it can't be closed by our current non mainstream policy as it's asking for an evaluation within the framework of GTR. So I can't close it off the bat, but if the community seems to want it gone then we can go with that. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 15 '13 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps we should have an additional close reason which simply reads: "Codswallop!" $\endgroup$ – Wouter Oct 15 '13 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ But seriously, in this case I think the question could even be closed on the basis of being "too broad", regardless of Crothers. If it were to focus on a specific argument or situation, it could possibly be kept open. Perhaps without any mention of the man who gave the argument - if that man is indeed an unhealthy factor in the scientific knowledge of the larger public (something I cannot at the moment assess in this case, since I know nothing of the man). $\endgroup$ – Wouter Oct 15 '13 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Question closed, as per Colin's answer $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 16 '13 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Related meta post: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/5070/2451 $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Oct 17 '13 at 12:47
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That question is definitely close-able under the rubric of "Unclear what you are asking," in addition to "too open-ended." In the comments to that question, Ben Crowell points to a meta question he posed about this exact sort of thing: a link to a video, followed by the question, "What's wrong with this?" That's not really an answerable question, because there simply isn't enough information provided to determine what is bothering the OP about Crothers's ideas.

As Manishearth says, it's asking for a mainstream analysis of Crothers's ideas, so it could be salvaged by focusing on a specific aspect of Crothers's argument.

In addition to that, there is the problem of some possible dishonesty of the OP of that question. In one comment, they imply that they are "just a layman," but later claims to have read Schwarschild's original paper and seems to know a lot about the history of GR. To me, that discrepency is a big red flag that suggest that the OP isn't really askingthe question in good faith.

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I think the answer was probably asked in good faith. I don't think Stupid was claiming to have read Schwarzschild's paper. He was just repeating a claim on Crothers' site that Schwarzschild's paper didn't predict black holes. The claim is wrong of course: Crothers has committed the beginner's error of thinking that because a solution is expressed in different coordinates it's a different solution, but let us skip lightly over this without comment.

There is a point to be made though, and I almost posted a meta question on the subject. We all love the heroic underdog figure, and if you watch the video linked in the question Crothers is an entertaining and plausible speaker. Although the question was phrased in neutral terms Stupid was obviously predisposed to believe Crothers was correct and we wicked physicists were maliciously ignoring him. In the face of this prejudice, and without being able to resort to mathematics, how can we make a cogent argument? I wish now I had simply ignored the question. It was a bit like wrestling a tar baby - with every attempt to disentangle myself I just got more deeply mired :-)

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    $\begingroup$ "without being able to resort to mathematics" On that note: you should never consider yourself unable to resort to mathematics on this site. This is what we mean by calling it an expert level site: we expect people to have (or acquire) a certain ability to understand the language of physics experts. If a poster requests a non-mathematical explanation, you can give it a try, but if something really needs math to be explained properly, go ahead and use it. $\endgroup$ – David Z Oct 16 '13 at 21:06

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