Fringescience

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Introduction/Manifesto

This Fringe Science community developed around the belief that engaging in responsible, independent research and development for the betterment of humanity is a basic human right, and we aim to promote and defend that right. As of this writing, the Wikipedia article about fringe science reads:

Fringe science is an inquiry in an established field of study which departs significantly from mainstream theories in that field and is considered to be questionable by the mainstream.

In short, anything that does not follow established orthodox channels for research and development, even when rigorously pursuing scientific methodologies as well as responsible practices and reporting standards, can bear the label of "fringe science". The unfortunate association of "fringe science" with conspiracy theories, unscientific practices, or the mad ramblings of quacks and snake oil salesmen generally lumps together everyone who does not work in a corporate R&D laboratory or grant-funded university setting. A common complaint about fringe science work is that experiments have not been properly reviewed or repeated, though in many cases this claim is spurious and frankly untrue -- they simply have not usually been published in mainstream peer review journals. A recent upswell in support for open access peer review journals, in reaction to the predatory and generally unreasonable behavior of major review journal publishers, may help to reverse this trend, but garnering support for these open access journals has proven an uphill battle, as adoption slows or stalls in the face of the entrenched infrastructure of "respectable" mainstream reliance on the institutional path to publication.

Undermining barriers to entry for people performing quality R&D work and well-conducted experimentation is the foremost goal of this community, as a means of ensuring that innovative voices are heard in the effort to improve the human condition and knowledge of the world in which we live even when they do not have the "right" friends inside the biggest, most powerful orthodox science institutions.

While we do not consider it reasonable to reject *any* idea just because it seems superficially outrageous in the pursuit of the rationalization of fringe science, we do have standards. The more outrageous the hypothesis or claim, the more compelling the evidence it requires to convince our community as a whole to consider such ideas. As a result, flat-earth and holocaust denial claims are typically either laughed out of the community or stricken down with some indignation, for no substantive evidence has yet presented itself, and the preponderance of evidence strongly favors rejection of both these positions, to say nothing of the often offensive corollary statements that come with such claims. Baseless conspiracy theories, unsubstantiated and backward anti-science claims in the spirit of Ned Ludd, and abhorrent racism have no place in this community. Prevent evidence, or avoid such subjects.

If you can discuss any idea -- no matter how unlikely -- in a spirit of critical thinking and rational curiosity, and back up your own claims with meaningful evidence, without resorting to personal or generalizing offense or other harmful irrationalities, you are a welcome member of the Fringe Science community. Help us help the world, despite the efforts of gatekeepers to keep control of the keys of knowledge.

Community IRC

Join us at freenode/##fringescience to get to know the community. That's the irc.freenode.net IRC network, and the ##fringescience channel. The following rules apply to all participants in the community IRC channel:

  • Do not engage in prejudicial, offensive discrimination of any kind. In this context such discrimination is defined as "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex".
  • Do not abuse channel op powers. This includes actions such as kicking and banning without proper justification.
  • Do not spam the channel. It is obnoxious and contrary to productive (or even friendly) discussion.
  • Treat all others with respect.

Breaking any of these rules may result in loss of ops access or kicking/banning. Users who feel they have been the target of unfair banning can speak to any of the flag officers of the channel, presently including merced, Mahjong, and guideX, or contact the channel founder, Crusher.

Initiatives

Our current primary initiative is the establishment of open access peer review publication as an adjunt of the Wikipedia project. As the premier open access encyclopedic resource, Wikipedia has significant influence and name recognition in the realm of open access knowledge. While the mainline Wikipedia project's content policy prohibits inclusion of original research in an article, we believe an adjunct or subproject open access journal is a logical extension of that resource, and would provide a greater opportunity for successful promotion of open access peer review publication than the majority of existing efforts to legitimize research outside the walled gardens of mainstream peer review journal publication. Previous proposals have met with opposition, but we believe a renewed and reformulated proposal for original research publication will represent a more universally acceptable solution and aid the work of independent researchers around the world, as well as providing a more compelling model for keeping strictly encyclopedic content "cleaner", with an easy path for redirecting original research contributions to a more appropriate venue, without effectively consigning all such research to obscurity or giving rise to acrimonious edit wars.

The development of a draft for such a proposal is underway. If you are interested in more detail, see relevant resources as they appear in this wiki or speak with Crusher or princeps in the IRC channel.