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June 15, 2006

Physics Blogwar!

I read about this cat's site in Discover. Basically, he's a physicist working for the mathematics department of a university, because, he says, physics is now mostly about string theory, and he thinks string theory is, as his blog's name would have it, "Not even wrong." (As Wolfgang Pauli once said of a paper that was too incomplete to even evaluate.)

His problem with string theory would seem to be that there is simply no experimentation going on to either confirm or deny any of the moving parts of string theory, putting physicists in a difficult place. Physicists, he says, are accustomed to not sweating the rigors of a theory, because they know that ultimately they'll be corrected by an experiment. But string theory allows (or has thusfar allowed) no experimentation, so physicists have begun simply makin' shit up, more or less. And they continue "refining" a theory that simply has no evidence for it.

Obviously, I have no idea if he's right or not. I suspect he's right because he sounds reasonable. That's really not a scientific reason to trust him, but I am thoroughly out of my reckoning here.

Anyway, he links this guy, who he seems to be having a physics blog-feud with.

Finally, as near as I can tell Lubos has finally gone completely bonkers. In his last few ranting postings, people who disagree with him no longer have the intelligence of dogs, but are compared to squirrels (or, in my case, microbes). His latest posting is about why the scientific status of string theory and of evolution theory are the same (although he thinks “evolution is more dogmatic while string theory is more open-minded work in progress”), and I’m sure the people at the Discovery Institute will enjoy it greatly. He goes on about the fact that at one point, under great duress, Jacques Distler did admit in the comment section of a blog that he disagreed with Lubos on this point. Lubos compares this to Judas’s betrayal of Jesus:
This almost sounds like a story from the New Testament except that in the past, there would be 1 Judas in such a story. Today we have 387 Judases with various confused and triply corrupt self-interests and relations to the bad players in the game of life.

Instead of dissociating themselves from Lubos’s increasingly nutty postings about string theory, some string theorists such as Moshe Roszali and Joe Polchinski instead have decided this is a good time to encourage him and start participating in the comment section of his blog.

It's kind of funny that physicists are engaging in the same smack-talk as political bloggers. I can't follow any of the science; I'm just reading this crap to see people call each other "idiots" and "bonkers."

(Oh, by the way, the latter guy, Lubos, would seem to be a conservative based on the "social" links in his sidebar, and also a fervent Darwinist.)

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posted by Ace at 02:04 PM

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