675: Revolutionary

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I mean, what's more likely -- that I have uncovered fundamental flaws in this field that no one in it has ever thought about, or that I need to read a little more? Hint: it's the one that involves less work.
Title text: I mean, what's more likely -- that I have uncovered fundamental flaws in this field that no one in it has ever thought about, or that I need to read a little more? Hint: it's the one that involves less work.

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Reading, learning, and understanding is much harder than presenting a simple theory.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The comic contrasts brilliant revolutionary scientific thought with the simplistic arrogance of assuming one understands the current scientific theory enough to correct it. The character with the goatee has a degree in philosophy, and perhaps has certain ideas of his own about how the world should fundamentally be described by physics. He has studied Einstein's theory of special relativity for less than an hour and thinks it is wrong, and that he has a better theory. When confronted about this, he considers the objection as based in dogma, and remains so confident that he wants to email the "president of physics". His ignorance of the field is emphasized by thinking that the entire field of physics has a president - although certain important organizations such as the American Physical Society do have presidents.

Cueball concedes that it is possible for such a revolutionary idea to come from a relative outsider. One example is Albert Einstein's own formulation of special relativity, which came while he was working at a patent office in Switzerland, although he did already have a Ph.D in physics. A thought experiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences.

The "racecar on a train" idea alludes to thought experiments involving frames of reference, which are important in relativity.

The title text seems to suggest that the philosopher is willing to believe whatever is most convenient. On the other hand, overthrowing a fundamental theory in physics means of course more work than just reading.

More likely the title text expresses that learning and understanding physics is much harder then just presenting a new theory. The philosopher could not have learned the theory of relativity in just one hour. But some people act like this and present obscure theories on the internet without any deeper knowledge of the matter. The best example is the criticism about the climate change, but also still today many people try to prof that the theory of relativity is wrong.

[edit] Transcript

Cueball: Yes, science is an open process in which a good idea can come from anybody.
Cueball: Yes, widely-believed theories are on occasion overturned by simple thought experiments.
Cueball: And yes, your philosophy degree equips you to ask interesting questions sometimes.
[Cueball is talking to a philosopher with a goatee, who is sitting at a computer.]
Cueball: But you did not just overturn special relativity, a subject you learned about an hour ago, with your "racecar on a train" idea.
Philosopher: You just don't like that I'm turning a rational eye to your dogma. Hey, what's the email for the president of physics?
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Looks like this guy doesn't know about Lorentz contraction and time dilation. That or he's so confident about his idea that he hasn't bothered to look further into the subject. --ParadoX (talk) 09:24, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

I guess that the mouseover text refer to the Occam's razor, a favourite tool of many philosophers. --Barfolomio (talk) 14:07, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Welcome Barfolomio, but I think the Occam's razor principle wasn't in mind of Randall when he wrote this comic. But it's a nice find and maybe it should be mentioned. Nevertheless the title text explain is wrong, reading all the math and physics books is much harder then just inventing a "racecar on a train" theory as a philosopher. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:09, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
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