tisdag 17 augusti 2021

Encounter with Wikipedia Culture on Theory of Flight

Here is an account of my encounter with Wikipedia concerning the article Lift (force) which continued on the Talk page  and from there was lifted to the Physics page. The Lift (force) article starts with:

  • There are several ways to explain how an airfoil generates lift. Some are more complicated or more physically rigorous than others; some have been shown to be incorrect.
Then follows an account of popular "theories" (Newton, Bernoulli, Coanda) all carefully shown to be incomplete/trivial and thereby incorrect as scientific explanations of lift. But no scientific theory commonly accepted to be correct is presented. The general reader of the article is thus left in confusion from double-speak: There are several ways to explain lift, but they are all incorrect. This is disinformation.

This is the starting point for giving a reference to New Theory of Flight, which I add, and which is then quickly deleted by eager Wikipedians to be followed by lengthy discussions on the Talk and Physics pages.

Nowhere in these discussions do I meet any professional scientist, only what one Wikipedian describes as people made editing Wikipedia their hobby. In particular, not Doug McLean with whom I have have a long discussion on theory of flight recorded in recent posts, and who serves as scientific authority behind the hobbyists doing the editing of the article. 

What I meet is a swarm of Wikipedians trying all possible tricks to silence my voice, without ever getting to the point of disinformation/double-speak in the claim that "There are many ways to explain lift, all wrong". What strikes me is that is that the swarm is so well coordinated, like a bee swarm with objective to kill the intruder, but with unknown coordinator. I do not meet a single Wikipedian willing to take a look at a possible case of misinformation. Read the interchange on the Talk and Physics pages and build your own conception of how Wikipedia functions and how articles are coordinated by some coordinator without name and beyond contact. I do not think this is how Wikipedia was originally conceived as an open objective service to the people, not steered by hidden special interests. 

PS  There is already a process started at Wikipedia to replace the point of departure: 
  • There are several ways to explain how an airfoil generates lift... some have been shown to be incorrect.

The flow around a lifting wing is a complex fluid-mechanics phenomenon that can be understood on essentially two levels:

1) The level of the mathematical theories, which are based on established laws of physics and represent the flow accurately, but which require solving partial differential equations, and

2) The level of qualitative physical explanations without math. Correctly explaining lift is difficult because the cause-and-effect relationships involved are subtle. A comprehensive explanation that captures all of the essential aspects is rather long. There are also many simplified explanations, and most readers will likely already have been exposed to one or more of them. But simplifying the explanation of lift is inherently problematic, and no simplified explanation has been devised that's completely satisfactory. Each of the simplified explanations presented below is therefore accompanied by a discussion of its shortcomings or errors.

We no longer see any claim that There are several ways to explain how an airfoil generates lift, and instead we are offered physical explanations without math, which McLean admits is not true physics and in additions admits are problematic. It is not clear that McLean's proposal is a step forward, but at least it acknowledges that the present version is not ok. Maybe an opening to mention New Theory of Flight, maybe under a new section with title Challenge to Old Theory: New Theory Published in Leading Scientific Journal ?

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