So I've had this computer architecture idea for a while. I've made some other posts about this on academia and may make one on EE stackexchange, and I hope I don't come off as bitter. The thing is, I feel that some of the people I talk (mostly IRL, but also some on specialty EE forums) to about this misrepresent my idea, and insist on their misunderstanding when criticising or dismissing what I say. Some will then insist on evidence from me that this will work, which I provide, but not before they interrupt me mid-sentence and come away with a misleading picture of what I am saying.

Of course, this alone does not make me right, but I am sure that these specific criticisms of my idea are wrong.

The gist of this idea is it is a microprocessor pipeline and datapath prediction/ordering algorithm that attempts to sift through some fairly noisy and generally considered difficult to predict data streams to find out what will happen next, so as to improve the performance of the resulting microprocessor design, better than existing 'out-of-order, windowed, branch-predicting' designs.

When I react to what they say, I like to think that I am patiently correcting their misconceptions. Generally I try and wait until they are done with their statement before explaining where they have gone wrong or what they missed context-wise, and when I introduce the idea, while I do frame it as potentially a big discovery if true, I do NOT speak about fame or being the best engineer or revolutionary (besides just saying it is a big idea and a big change). I am not sure if the way I am phrasing my statements is inherently misleading them into making misguided or incorrect criticisms of my idea by planting wrong ideas in their head, but I take a lot of effort to be very clear about what cases I think the idea applies in, what context and follow each step from the previous one. How they react to this varies. Some fall silent, and one in particular insists on their misinterpretation as debunking my argument(s).

What would you recommend I do to resolve this conflict? While I cannot be 100% certain that I am right about everything I say, I know that most of the criticisms I have received so far are wrong (but they either do not realise it or will not admit to it). What do I do when I know that many of the 'establishment' views on something are wrong, but attempts to explain why they seem wrong are met with accusations that I am ignoring evidence, that I can't accept that I'm wrong and that I just want to pad my ego by sounding smarter than big names in this field?

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    It might be good to add what you see as a resolution. i.e. do you want them to agree with you in the end? Or do you just want to end the conversation? Or is there something else you hope to achieve? – Jeroen Jul 14 at 8:06
  • @JeroendeK I don't want them to agree with what I say if that is wrong. I would hope for them not to misrepresent my argument whether this is intentional or unintentional, and that the discussions can be in good faith and with minimal hostility on both sides. So - yes on agreeing with me when I debunk their misinterpretations, and that's it. – CorrectCrackpot Jul 14 at 9:11
  • As such, regardless of the question being a bit broad, I don't think this is a situation that can be helped much. People form biases (rightly or wrongly) even before you discuss it with them, so perhaps the only venues available are academic ones. – M.A.R. Jul 14 at 9:12
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    Can you link to a forum where you explain your invention, I'd like to see what replies you get. – bobflux Jul 16 at 9:09
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    @CorrectCrackpot seems like that effort might be well spent, then. People look much more favorably on working solutions than they do on ideas for them :) – Erik Jul 17 at 11:32

As someone whose perspective differs sharply from even the people closest to me, I've had this same experience repeatedly throughout my life. I've come to understand it's not just my experience or your experience. This has been the experience of every visionary throughout history. And also every genuine crackpot. This is just how people react to unfamiliar ideas. People are resistant to new ideas --often for good reason --, and they are not great at telling the good ones from bad ones.

What I have come to understand is that there is no intrinsic value to convincing people of your rightness. Unless your audience is people who can impact you or your idea directly, convincing them won't make you any more right or wrong. Or, if you do need to convince other people in order to move this idea forward, the onus is on you to make the idea compelling. Presenting it in a professional manner may not change the idea itself, but it does make others more likely to take a gamble on you as a person, whether they comprehend the idea or not. These days, before presenting an idea, I evaluate what I want to get out of the situation. Maybe I just need some feedback to help me refine the idea. In that case, the more resistance I get, the better. Or, if it's really crucial for me to get it across, I package it in a way that gives it its best shot of being taken seriously, independent of its actual merits.

You're actually in an enviable position, because you have a pragmatic idea with practical consequences. I've had a number of ideas that it turned out to be easier to implement than to explain. If you are right about it, you should be able to find a way to make it useful. When your new invention makes millions of dollars, no one will question you any longer. And until that time, it's best to keep quiet about it, unless you want to spend the rest of your life telling people "that was my idea first!"

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    Hey there! We require answers here to be backed up by personal experience or external sources. So, could you edit to tell us about a similar situation you were in the past? Who was involved, what did you say and how did the other person react? – Ael Jul 21 at 10:37
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    @Ael - Thanks for your feedback. This SE differs from others I participate on, in as much as reference to personal experience is often discouraged elsewhere. I have edited to address your concerns. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Jul 22 at 18:39

The first thing you need to realise is what you're working against. You are claiming you have a groundbreaking new theory that goes against a lot of established knowledge in a field where you have no formal academic qualifications. Regardless of the validity of your idea, that puts you in the same camp as all "science cranks" who claim to have disproven Einstein, or to be able to square the circle that reach out to researchers very frequently. I'm just a PhD student, without a famous name or any big theorems to my name and I get crank emails about every two weeks. My advisor, who is a big name, hears from several each week. It's simply not feasible for him to actually read and engage with all the cranks who email him, not while keeping up with his actual work. If you get a response at all, that means they don't consider you a complete crackpot.

Next, you say that the people you reach out to keep interrupting you and come with complaints that you feel misrepresent your work. Now, you've said that you don't have formal qualifications in your field. Have you considered that you might not be communicating according to the standards in the field? Scientific communication uses very specific jargon (one of the things you learn if you get formal qualifications is how to communicate your ideas to other experts) and being even slightly off can make people misunderstand you. I would advise looking for scientific papers on computer architecture and graduate level textbooks to make sure your terminology is completely accurate.

After that, I would recommend reaching out to people lower on the academic ladder than a full professor. A graduate student is likely to be less jaded by previous actual cranks and tends to have a bit more time to engage with you in a constructive manner. Write up your result as correctly as you can, and address all those common misconceptions people tend to have about your work as early as possible in the write-up. Then reach out to someone like a graduate student to talk about your theories. Keep the email brief and to the point, and scoring as low as possible on the crackpot index. Feel free to attach a longer write-up, but the email should contain the salient points and address common complaints in a concise way. You need to explain why each of those common misconceptions does not apply, even though apparently several experts point out the same thing. Reaching out in writing, especially over email where an instant response is not expected, will make it easier for everyone to digest the other person's statements and respond clearly and calmly.

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  • Have you considered that you might not be communicating according to the standards in the field? Yes. This is where things get a bit touchy. Some of the concepts I deal with like say 'loop-unrolling', I am trying to improve on in a pretty fundamental way. So to explain my new concept using only existing jargon can get pretty labyrinthine. You have a fair point but sometimes this is a double bind where the jargon to describe the concept hasn't been coined, but if I try and stick strictly to existing jargon, it seems to become hard to explain clearly. Thanks for your answer, much appreciated. – CorrectCrackpot Jul 17 at 10:43
  • I would advise looking for scientific papers on computer architecture and graduate level textbooks to make sure your terminology is completely accurate. So essentially, this can't always be the case (see previous comment, the terminology hasn't been invented yet). However, I do try. But am I missing something or specially pleading? – CorrectCrackpot Jul 17 at 10:45
  • One other thing (from the other answer as of this time): For some experts it is their position that they are the only expert. They defend this position with increasingly childish means. The technique is familiar and not always understood or realized even by the practitioner. This is to mis-hear or purposefully misunderstand what is said, grab the victory and head for the hills. By that time it is a game and they have won, Then they are whooping it up at the local pub while you remain at the blackboard. What do you make of this? What would you suggest when meetings turn into brow-beatings? – CorrectCrackpot Jul 17 at 10:48

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