To try to help those of you who are advocating an Against The Mainstream (ATM) idea, the following are some suggestions on how to proceed and what to expect. These are not as fundamental as the board rules linked to in # 1, but should be taken as serious guidelines. Following them is not required, except where they restate the rules, but it will make your visit that much more pleasant.
1. Become familiar with the rules of CQ, most particularly with Rule 13, on Against the Mainstream (ATM) and Conspiracy Theories (CT).
2. You have only 30 days from the opening of the thread for you to present your idea. It is not a good idea to start the thread before you are prepared. Do your prep work in advance.
3. You should have a good working knowledge of the mainstream theory you are challenging. Is what you’re proposing proof against that theory, or could it be something the theory can absorb?
4. You may think that the ideas are the hard part of developing a scientific theory and that because you have done the 'hard part' that you are automatically entitled to help, support and so on in developing this idea into an actual theory. Well the shock punchline is that ideas are not the hard part. Ideas are actually pretty easy and even those nasty nasty mainstreamers have lots. The hard part is turning a pretty picture you have in your head into a model and testing it. The picture may seem completely convincing to you, but without doing the actual hard part that means nothing. If you really think the idea is that good then the onus is on you to at least start doing the hard part.
(wording based on this Feedback post)
5. Be prepared to defend your ideas. You are going to be challenged to defend them with evidence and you are expected to do so. Doing your preparation and your research before you even start your thread is an excellent idea. The ATM forum is not intended for you to develop your idea, it is for you to present your idea.
6. Whenever possible, defend your points with published research – and make sure you can provide some explanation in your own words as to how that research supports what you are saying. Quoting articles or providing links to on-line videos with no explanation is not evidence.
7. Remember you will not convince everyone in one or two posts. Take your time to build your argument and be prepared for a long discussion. If you think you’ve refuted Newton, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the Big Bang all in one post – you haven’t. Whole books have been written challenging those theories. You’re not going to do it single handedly in a few hundred words on an Internet discussion board.
8. Don’t make claims that extend beyond what your data (or the data you’re referencing) can support. If you consider something as unproven speculation – say so. When someone demonstrates a point you made is wrong, acknowledge that it was shown to be wrong and don’t keep repeating it. Be willing to modify your views.
9. It is sometimes tempting to present many different pieces of evidence at one time. However, you will then be expected to defend all those different ideas. To keep from getting overwhelmed with multiple discussions, it may be better to present one or two pieces of evidence at a time.
10. Questions put to you about your theory must be answered in a timely fashion. It is acceptable to answer “I don’t know” or to ask for more time to come up with the information. If you do ask for more time, a Moderator may temporarily close the thread until you are ready to answer.
11. People will vigorously challenge your theory. This questioning of ideas is one of the fundamental aspects of the Scientific Method. However, all such discussions must be kept polite and respectful, by all parties. You have not been attacked if you are told you are wrong. An attack on your idea is not an attack on you. Likewise, you should only confront ideas, not people. If you believe someone is being disrespectful to you, do not return the attack; report the post with the black triangle Report Post button (lower left corner of the post).
12. Don’t accuse people of being closed minded just because they disagree with you. Throwing a tantrum because your theory is not accepted will not win you support. Have a sense of humor, be friendly and be polite. Taking yourself too seriously usually leads to frustration. People on CQ will generally listen and discuss politely well reasoned arguments – even when they disagree.
13. Do not use non-mainstream meanings of commonly used scientific terms; such a practice creates confusion. If you use non-standard terms, you should define their meaning. The same applies for symbols; do not use standard symbols in non-standard ways, and define new symbols you may be using.
14. Don’t create cute little names for mainstream theories and astronomers. Sure they might be funny on some level, but they’re going to irritate people and distract them from the points you’re trying to make.
15. Be realistic. You’ll have better luck trying to convince people your alternative is possible than you will have trying to convince everybody your idea is right – and everybody else is wrong.
16. Be happy if people are respectfully discussing the strength and weaknesses of your ideas. If you’ve reached that point then you’ve accomplished a lot more than most of the alternatives brought forward on CQ.