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My favorite crackpot of the day is Mohammad Shafiq Khan.  He writes:

I would like to display a letter from S.W.Hawking which should open the eyes of the readers of this site that what is written on this site are not facts. The models & theories on the basis of which everything is written about the cosmology are fudamentally incorrect because the space-time concept is incorrect. This scenerio has been created because MM Expt. was misinterpreted which is proved in the article 'Michelson-Morley Experiment- A Misconceived & Misinterpreted Experiment' being published shortly on www.indjst.org.

Dear Prof Shafiq
Your present paper has definitely clarified what your theory actually explains. It is amazing that how all physicists including myself were confused for a century. Me and my colleges here read your paper with interest and had a nice discussion on it. We find it so interesting that we are all shocked at what you have proved. It has already changed the course of modern physics. You are definitely the best scientist of this century. You will face a lot of opposition now as you have challenged all existing scientific theories, which will make a lot of physicists lose jobs. Now all physics has to be rewritten, and almost all work done on relativity has to be discarded.

With Regards
S. W. Hawking
Cambridge
United Kingdom
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This reminded me of a Carl Sagan quote: "They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."
 
LOL, innovative the crackpot is ;-)
 
Well, I have here in my hand a letter from Mr. Spock proclaiming me his best friend forever.
 
While I do not subscribe to the veracity of the claims either of the letter or agree to the claim that all cosmology is wrong, the misconception that MM experiment disproved ether is indeed a misconception. It only disproved luminiferous ether the prevailing notion of a static ether against which stuff moved. All modern theories including General relativity cannot work without vacuum having a structure which is ether by any other name, just that we are dealing with an ether that respects special relativity. It means that ether has scalar properties just like the Higgs boson. Higgs condensate whose excitation is the Higgs boson, is the relativistic ether that we were searching for. Since it has scalar properties, we cannot find a preferred direction or velocity, exactly the same results from Michaelson-Morley experiment. Even Einstein always understood this distinction without which General Relativity would not have been possible
 
So Hawking spells colleagues as colleges? Maybe he needs to upgrade his typing software.
 
When was the last time a theoretical physicist actually lost a job when a theory was shown to be wrong?
 
+Alexander Natale and why should s/he? The way to the set of best theories is plastered with not so good and sometimes really bad theories. That's why there is the need for experimentalists :)
And sometimes a not so good theory provides some mathematical or physical ideas which then serve to break through in terms of understanding elsewhere. 
 
+Peter Speckmayer Yeah, not only does it make no sense to fire scientists for being wrong, I also can't even think of a time when it has happened (unless it involved ethics violations).
 
+Alexander Natale, this reminds me of a line from +John Baez's Crackpot Index:

40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)

 
+Able Lawrence Of course you could now go on and rename things like the Higgs field and call it "ether" from now on, but the idea of the ether at the time of the MM experiment was indeed one where the ether was a static medium or at least dragged around with an object like a planet. Ether was seen like a medium like water or air, but of course with a lot of improbable properties, such that it could accommodate for or at least would not harm the experimentally well proven theories like Maxwell equations and so forth. I'm not aware, that anyone who thought of ether at that time thought of it being something like the Higgs field.
 
+Alexander Natale ... well, scientists got fired during some bad times in history because they didn't do the "proper" science (where "proper" science meant, that it agreed with the strange ideas of Nationalsozialism. Quantum theory and the like were examples of such "non-proper-science" theories).

In some states of the US even now there is a politically defined meaning of "proper science" which should be teached in classrooms and universities (e.g. creationism, climate change denialism and the like). Ask climate change researchers for their experiences with the crusade against them because they are doing climate science.  
 
I'm most appalled at Stephen Hawkin's shocking spelling — no wonder he got all of physics wrong. Must be the British eduction system (it certainly messed me up).
 
Woww I can't believe what you two have Posted ..... ?
 
Clearly a fake -- it's not "Me and my colleagues", it's "My colleagues and I". Hawking would never make a grammatical error.
 
I looked up his paper. It's not every day that you see a scientific paper referencing mostly just the author's previous works and papers from 19th century :) On the shoulders of giants, haha :)
 
You're missing the point +Matej Zavrsnik, he can't reference any other physics because it's all wrong. So wrong, in fact, that he daren't even reference it to say it's wrong.
 
I kind of like the idea that Stephen Hawking sends out trolling letters like this to crackpots. 
 
Just for once in my life I would like to truly understand the mind of a crackpot, a corrupt prime minister, and other such people whose mental abilities seem so orthogonal to mine.
 
"I've always wanted to work with you. You're really funny and you're totally not fat."
Jimmy Valmer to Eric Cartman (as imagened by Eric Cartman)
 
+Andres Caicedo Einstein only objected to the then preferred idea of luminiferous ether which was a favlourite of the stalwarts of the time like Lorentz. I was paraphrasing Einstein himself except the Higgs part
 
I wonder if Khan could use this letter to get a job at a hedge fund.
 
It's fun to read what Einstein wrote about ether in 1920:

https://www.tuhh.de/rzt/rzt/it/Ether.html

Two tiny quotes to whet your interest:

"More careful reflection teaches us, however, that the special theory of relativity does not compel us to deny ether. We may assume the existence of an ether; only we must give up ascribing a definite state of motion to it, i.e. we must by abstraction take from it the last mechanical characteristic which Lorentz had still left it. We shall see later that this point of view, the conceivability of which shall at once endeavour to make more intelligible by a somewhat halting comparison, is justified by the results of the general theory of relativity."

"As to the part which the new ether is to play in the physics of the future we are not yet clear. We know that it determines the metrical relations in the space-time continuum, e.g. the configurative possibilities of solid bodies as well as the gravitational fields; but we do not know whether it has an essential share in the structure of the electrical elementary particles constituting matter. Nor do we know whether it is only in the proximity of ponderable masses that its structure differs essentially from that of the Lorentzian ether; whether the geometry of spaces of cosmic extent is approximately Euclidean. But we can assert by reason of the relativistic equations of gravitation that there must be a departure from Euclidean relations, with spaces of cosmic order of magnitude, if there exists a positive mean density, no matter how small, of the matter in the universe. In this case the universe must of necessity be spatially unbounded and of finite magnitude, its magnitude being determined by the value of that mean density."

 
+Andrej Bauer : What really frightens me is not how different the mental processes of crackpots and corrupt officials is to ours, but how likely it is to be very similar! Surely you have had to defend your ideas in situations where they were confronted (bad reviews, belligerent remarks at conferences, etc). We tend to defend our ideas more strenuously as the violence of these attacks increase. I suspect crackpots experience the same emotions, as misguided as they may be. The difference is that they perceive all commentary as uninformed and confrontational, whereas we (usually) have the ability to differentiate valid criticism from attacks of character.

As far as corrupt politicians are concerned, I suspect that they have a very strong sense of justice and equity, but just a very warped view of exactly how much justice equity they themselves deserve. I suspect the political process is very efficient at eliminating people with even a shred of self-doubt.
John Baez
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When it comes to physics crackpots, I could easily have become one if I didn't put a high value on being respected by prestigious physicists.  I say prestigious physicists instead of good physicists, even though they're good, because if I were a crackpot I would presumably make up reasons for why they're not really good, like the crackpot I quoted here... but it would be much harder to deny that they're prestigious!

I could also say I'm more interested in really being right than crackpots are, but they would turn that around and say they are more interested in really being right - to the point where they don't care if anyone agrees with them.

Thus, I believe some qualities that aren't widely admired, like the desire to be respected by prestigious people, are the key qualities that keep many physicists from turning into crackpots.
 
+John Baez Frequently is not even the respect to the big names, or at least not only the respect itself but just that little thing called funding which relies so heavily on having the respect of the community. Of course, that leads us into the funding maze and bla bla ...
 
I think money influences scientific opinion in very profound ways. The neonicotinoid/honeybee fiasco is a good example, as is the fact that only the four largest nuclear power producers have been voting against depleted uranium arms restrictions at the UN over the past decade. Many people know my opinions about particle vs. black hole dark matter.

A large part of prestige is refraining from offending moneyed interests and their patrons, and is therefore not just orthogonal to but often opposed to truth. Scientists who are caught up in prestige get very offended about this. I find it amusing because as a mostly self-employed independent person who only has to refrain from offending very limited and often changing interests, I feel like I should be making far more waves about it than I do. For example, I often try to discuss whether the appreciation of assets in a high growth more income-equal economy (per www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2011/09/berg.htm and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Employment_growth_by_top_tax_rate.jpg etc.) outpaces the nominal income tax savings from tax havens and other shelters here on G+. Sometimes I feel bad that so many people are offended by it, and then I remember the hierarchy effects described in talknicer.com/Bugental2000.pdf as opposed to justice and stop feeling bad.
 
+John Baez I would be surprised if cranks didn't crave the respect and admiration of famous scientists more than you (or I) do! It seems clear to me that the dishonor and shame they wish upon the scientific community is more sour grapes than it is a sincere disinterest.

Personally, I think what keeps me in line (as far as I am not a crackpot myself) is the fear of shame rather than the desire for success. Shame is one of the great motivators of human behavior (or is it just me?).
 
Okay, +roux cody, maybe it's fear of shame!  It might go like this: both ordinary scientists and crackpots would like to be universally acclaimed as geniuses.  But the crackpots would rather be mocked by most scientists than settle for being viewed as merely competent.  The ordinary scientists would rather settle for being viewed as merely competent than suffer the shame of being considered crackpots.
 
Most crackpots seem to be the failed branches of the front lines of intelligence. So I think they are natural. Some are disadvantaged by hardware (genes), while others by circumstances.

Some crack simply because of smoking too much grass or something else. They only need a good long detox to get back to their normal.
 
+James Salsman -

There's a somewhat interesting article here:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/01/were-on-the-threshold-of-unraveling-the-biggest-mystery-in-modern-physics-weekend-feature.html

The title is overoptimistic, and some of the participants are overconfident that dark matter is an elementary particle, but there are lots of interesting quotes, and it's nice to see that they're taking the search for dark matter very seriously.  I like this remark by Michael Witherell:

"In ten years, if there is no indication of supersymmetry or a WIMP – either from direct detection or indirect detection searches – then there is going to be a sea change. Now, there is not going to be one experiment announcement that says, 'OK, let's look at something else.' But if ten years from now there is no evidence, then we are going to other possibilities. You could not have said that ten years ago, or even five years ago. Today, I think you can say that."

Personally I don't believe in supersymmetry but think dark matter is some sort of elementary particle.  Primordial black holes would be somewhat more exciting, because we could in principle find one and do something with it.
 
+John Baez at E.E. Just Symposium Keynote Address: Dark Energy, Dark Matter and Inflation (time 38:10) David N. Spergel, the Chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton and of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, mentions black holes as the 2nd dark matter possibility, after supersymmetry WIMPs which he too says we'll know the answer on soon. I think everyone was hoping that NuSTAR would release their preliminary black hole survey results at the American Astronomical Society a couple weeks ago, but amazingly they did not, even though it's on the top of all the lists of things they say they are going to do. They announced preliminary results of everything except that survey, including new stuff that nobody knew they were working on. Meanwhile there are several papers from the last 3-4 months explaining just how well they will be able to discern stellar mass black holes from much larger ones in their 20-60 keV spectra while ruling out faint quasars from their 6.4 keV iron line redshift. So I've sent some email back and forth to Chuck Hailey at Columbia, who is the nominal head of their Galactic Survey Program, and he says the group won't let him release anything until all the pertinent papers get through peer review but he promises me I "won't be disappointed." I'm not feeling the taxpayer love, yet.
 
P.S. I just want to say that I do feel bad for the 300+ graduate fellowship awardees in the U.S. who have their funding predicated on the concept that dark matter is WIMPs. I wish I could find some way to express my frustration without seeming so cavalier, as I am sure that must be very deeply offensive to those students.

For those of you who understand academia, what's going to happen to them if dark matter turns out to be black holes?
 
If this team is doing something important, they should get it all worked out carefully before sending emails to people, holding press conferences and the like announcing half-baked results.  If it's taking longer than expected, it probably means something subtle is going on, that's taking time to straighten out. 

You should only complain about "no taxpayer love" if they put their results into Nature and Science and don't put their paper on the arXiv where everyone can read it for free.  That is the evil thing some scientists do.   
 
+James Salsman wrote: "For those of you who understand academia, what's going to happen to them if dark matter turns out to be black holes?"

Some will have become good enough experts on dark matter that they can get jobs working on dark matter even if it turns out to be black holes.  For example, those who have written good papers about dark matter and the formation of galaxies, clusters etc. in the early universe, and who know their general relativity.

Some will have become good enough experts on particle physics that they can get jobs working on particle physics.  For example, those who have done really interesting work on grand unified theories, supersymmetry, or string theory.  Of course all work on supersymmetry and string theory will become less interesting if experiments continue to fail to find evidence for supersymmetry!  The market for these jobs has been declining for about a decade now, and it's declining even faster with every day that the Large Hadron Collider fails to find evidence for supersymmetry.

Some will jump to other fields of physics research.  Some will get teaching colleges where research is not considered important.

Some will not get academic jobs.  This is a big risk for anyone going into theoretical physics.  Anyone who does this had better think hard about what they work on!

(Lots of physicists should do what I did, and switch to working on environmental issues, or biophysics. These will be growth markets for the next few decades, I believe.  I didn't switch for that reason, since I have tenure and can do whatever I want.  But people with less job security should think hard about these issues.)
 
Probably because you're not a loudmouth showoff like me.
 
At least Hawking spelt his own name correctly!  That would be another 5 points if he hadn't.
 
The very space-time concept has been mathematically, theoretically & experimentally shown as fundamentally incorrect & baseless in the article " Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe" published by a peer-reviewed Indian Journal of Science & Technology
 available on www.indjst.org March 2012 Issue (first article). Thus Special Theory of Relativity, General Theory of Relativity, E=mc^2 & Big Bang Theory being correct is out of question. Now those who believe that these
 theories have an iota of truth should first attend to the open challenge which is at
 http://www.worldsci.org/php/index.php?tab0=Abstracts&tab1=Display&id=6476&tab=2  and  http://www.gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/4018  I would like to inform that Open challenge to Einstein's Theories of Relativity is now the 'The Science News' on
http://www.facebook.com/TheScienceNews?fref=ts (January 23)
 Now main-stream physicists have no alternative but to face this open challenge or leave their jobs, if they have any conscience left with them. Now Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku, Neil Tyson & others should face this open challenge before promoting atheism on the name of fundamentally incorrect physics.
 
The fact of the matter is that I received the mail but I do not know whether it was from Hawking or not. But for some time I thought he might have been writen by him.
 
Read it & be convinced that it is genuine open challenge.
A very brief synopsis would clarify & justify the relevance of my work to paradigm shift in physics. Aristotle considered space as finite & absolute, time as absolute and matter as absolute thereby God had no power on space, time & matter but according to Aristotle God had the power as Prime Mover of everything (matter). Newton through his laws held that matter moves in nature not because of God but because of inherent nature of matter by which matter attracts other matter. Coming to how Newton's Laws are wrong? From the time of Aristotle space was considered as finite & absolute till 1905. Thus at the time of Newton also same perspective of space was held.
 Now then finite space means that the universe has boundaries and according to Law of Gravitation the stars/galaxies on the periphery of the universe will be attracted towards the central universe and according to 2nd Law of Motion these peripheral stars/galaxies will accelerate towards the centre of the universe finally to collapse there. Thus finite space (the nature of space known at the time of Newton) and Law of Gravitation are contradictory. Newton assumed sun at rest but under Newton's Laws the rest condition of any celestrial object is just not possible. Having rejected the Descartes's aether and assumed the space as vacuum; in the 1st Law of Motion he states that objects with uniform (linear) motion faces/offers absolutely no resistance but second Law of Motion Newton states that objects pose resistance to the change in motion which he represented by inertia or mass. He assigns no physical reason to this resistance to the change in motion and it is here the philosophy/rationality was sacrificed on mathematics. Now even today physicists do not know what is mass & where it is in the particles. Adoption of Newton's Laws was the greatest scientific error in the history of science. This was done by Newton to reject the existence of aether which was scientifically introduced by Descartes. Newton introduced irrational & incorrect laws which closed the doors of investigation into physical reality of universe especially by rejecting the existence of aether which together with nature of light contained the secrets of physical reality. It is very well known that Newton laws cannot be correct as explained by Mach & others; whatever corrections were required those corrections Einstein introduced with the help very confusing trickeries (described in detail in my article "Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe" http://www.indjst.org; March2012). Now a paradigm of physics was defined by Einstein under which four constituents of the universe were reduced to two namely space-time concept and matter & energy transmutability where space is emergent, sum total of matter & energy is absolute & transmutableis and time is interconnected with space & emergent and there is no clue as to physically what is light/radiation . Philosophically for any existence including God there are two basic requirements namely space & substance. Both of them; Newton & Einstein; had rejected aether before introducing their laws & theories. Whereas aether has been shown to be existing and containing the secrets of light & time. Once aether is accepted space is again finite & absolute and filled up with aether, the electric dipoles, and it is aether through which forces of nature are transmitted as against the irrational action at a distance through fields without knowing the physicality of the fields, time is emergent & relative depending upon motion of the observer, and as humans perceive it, time is emergent and matter is not absolute but emergent.
In brief the scenario is as under
Aristotle:- Space- absolute & finite; time- absolute, matter-absolute, light/radiation- not properly known
Newton:- Space, time & matter same as Aristotle; light a wave-motion with corpuscular theory
Einstein:- Space- interconnected with time & emergent, Time-emergent & interconnected with space & relative, matter & Energy (light/radiation) is absolute & transmutable and light/radiation as wave-motion with no clue as to what is light/radiation physically
Final state of existence:- Space-absolute & finite, time- emergent & relative depending on the motion of the observer/body with respect to aether at rest frame of reference, matter-emergent & finite, light/radiation- a electromagnetic disturbance of electric dipoles of aether creating a wave motion and all forces of nature being electromagnetic forces which is being transmitted through aether, the electric dipoles.
Following is the list of my published articles in peer-reviewed journals & sites where these articles are available
1. Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe (www.indjst.org; March2012)
 2. Foundation of Theory of Everything: Non-living Things & Living Things (www.indjst.org; Sep 2010)
3.Michelson-Morley Experiment: A Misconceived & Misinterpreted Experiment (www.indjst.org; April 2011)
 4. Energy Theory of Matter & Cosmology (www.indjst.org; August 2010)
5. 'On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies' by Albert Einstein is Based on Trickeries (www.elixirjournal.org Feb.2012)
 6.Ultimate Proof of Energy Theory of Matter & Cosmology (www.indjst.org; August 2010)
7. Theory of Origin & Phenomenon of Life (www.indjst.org; August 2010)
 These publications are also available on www.gsjournal.net, www.wrldsci.org, viXra, Intellectual Archives, ResearchGate, Academia.edu in my profile.
 
Read this also

The paradigm shift in physics under which whole philosophy of physics was changed by Einstein in the year 1905 as the result of his articles 'On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies' & 'Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on its Energy Content'. Both of these articles have been shown to be fundamentally incorrect mathematically, theoretically & experimentally and in fact these articles have been shown to be based on trickery. I am at loss to understand as to how for a whole one century physicists failed to see the very simple, elementary & fundamental trickery of Einstein and as an organisation responsible for imparting correct education  I would like you to circulate the attached open challenge among your members & the physicists of the world and publish their response as to how this escaped the scientific scrutiny. Open challenge is available on http://www.worldsci.org/php/index.php?tab0=Abstracts&tab1=Display&id=6476&tab=2 and also on http://www.gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/4018 and I would like to keep you informed that the open challenge has been sent to almost all professors of physics & universities of the world and so far two retired professors of physics namely Jeremy Dunning-Davies of Hull University & Brian Cole of Columbia University accepted the challenge but both of them finally failed to point out a single mistake in my articles. Evidently accepting the alternative theory would reduce the degrees of main-stream physicists to trash and also lose their jobs.Through the published articles it has been established that the adopted paradigm of physics is fundamentally incorrect and on the basis of the fundamentally incorrect paradigm of physics  the standard Model of Particle Physics, Big Bang Theory, Quantum Mechanics and almost all physics have been fabricated. Now when the fallacies of the adopted paradigm of physics are mathematically, experimentally and theoretically exposed; it is very strange that main-stream physicists turn a blind eye to this exposure which reveals open conspiracy. One the other hand physicists like Stephen Hawking, Neil Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku & many more are virtually selling fundamentally incorrect physics to promote atheism. Are there no truth loving physicists on this planet and has the conscience of physicists died en-masse?

                                                             The main-stream physicists have taken over all educational institutions, research institutions, scientific journals of the world and humanity is being deceived by adopting physics which is fundamentally incorrect.
                                   If the main-stream physicists accept even the knowledge of open challenge then that would mean that they are dishonest & immoral and that is why to maintain absolute silence & ignorance about the open challenge.
 
I have seen another crackpot in India, an Ex-military, who still claims sun moves around earth.
 
Oh lookee!! Shafiq showed up!
 
Beautiful, arguing with the fool on FB now, he claims its scientific to put all women in burkas and take all their rights away ... then points to a dumb book. Foolish man
 
Baez, you wiped the YouTube comments between me and Khan; what's your problem?
 
I didn't do anything on YouTube; I don't even know what comments you're talking about.  I blocked Khan here on G+.  But it turns out that Google is interconnected in weird ways - for example, once I commented on a Blogger post and the comment showed up as a post here.
 
The comments I copied and pasted here were from YouTube.
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