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As post-modern cosmology loses interest in evidence, science publications lose the interest of readers

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Calabi yau formatted.svgA recent piece by Natalie Wolchover in The Atlantic (also in Quanta) tells us:

String Theory: The Best Explanation for Everything in the Universe.

String theory (or, more technically, M-theory) is often described as the leading candidate for the theory of everything in our universe. But there’s no empirical evidence for it, or for any alternative ideas about how gravity might unify with the rest of the fundamental forces. Why, then, is string/M-theory given the edge over the others?

At Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit answers a question with a question:

In a time when the credibility of science is under attack, does anyone else see a problem with telling the public that the “Best Explanation for Everything in the Universe” that science has is a “theory” for which we have no definition or equations, no experimental evidence, and no likelihood of ever getting any? More.

That question arose when the article hit the radar here too. Wolchover deserves credit for not just releasing a flight of hot air balloons about the problem, the way many science mags would do.

The reality is that naturalism has reached the end of its tether. Evidence does not matter the way it used to when even the ability to perceive evidence correctly is being debunked.

From now on, science theories will probably depend more and more on political muscle instead. With the right sort of public, that stands in quite well for progress.  Success means never engaging in WrongThink, however defined.

The post-modern doldrums may be affecting science magazine publishing. Quanta, published by the Simons Foundation, was said last May to be one of the many high-end pop science magazines struggling to even survive:

Hope pervades these stories of innovation, adaptation, and transformation. It’s imaginable that physics-focused magazine readers will themselves hold high hopes for the churn at one more somewhat new magazine, Quanta, which this month told readers, “We have completely re-engineered and redesigned the site.” If having “formidable” science journalists bolsters hope, such readers will want to know that Undark uses that word to describe Quanta’s staff. Here’s hoping Quanta can fulfill the vision it expresses… – Steven T. Corneliussen, Physics Today More.

Unfortunately, the pop science mag industry’s problems cannot really be resolved by new website designs. Willingness to ask hard questions about current directions would get a very lively discussion going but one senses that few or none will risk it.

Added, and at 3 below:

asauber at 2, that is doubtless true but there is something else. Science media tend, relative to other media, not to be even constructively critical resources on the subjects they cover.

Too busy waving pom poms pompoms for “science” generally to think things out in the way that’s needed.

The big stories, like crackpot cosmology and the decline of Darwinism pass them by because they are not even interested.

Also, like most cultists I have met, they are obsessed with why the rest of us don’t “believe” things that seem unbelievable to us, if not to them.

If a person chooses to be literate, I wouldn’t recommend them as a resource, in many cases. Literacy is wasted where there is no genuine interest in the bigger picture.

See also: String theory is alive, there just isn’t any evidence for it.

Question for multiverse theorists: To what can science appeal, if not evidence?

Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself

Nature, as defined today, cannot be all there is. Science demonstrates that.

and

Can the rot of naturalism be stopped? Relating information to matter and energy might help

4 Replies to “As post-modern cosmology loses interest in evidence, science publications lose the interest of readers

  1. 1

    Post-modernism and a/mat philosophy (faith) go hand-in-hand these days. Makes perfect sense to me, as both are completely irrational… and deserving of each other.

  2. 2
    asauber says:

    the pop science mag industry’s problems

    Well, I think that at least in the USA, public education has degraded reading patiently for scientific comprehension as a priority, so that isn’t helping bolster the number of potential readers, either. People who might otherwise be interested in science (whatever that may mean to the producer of the mag) generally find the field slow and tedious to begin with. “It’s too hard.”

    Andrew

  3. 3
    News says:

    asauber at 2, that is doubtless true but there is something else. Science media tend, relative to other media, not to be even constructively critical resources on the subjects they cover.

    Too busy waving pom poms pompoms for “science” generally to think things out in the way that’s needed.

    The big stories, like crackpot cosmology and the decline of Darwinism pass them by because they are not even interested.

    Also, like most cultists I have met, they are obsessed with why the rest of us don’t “believe” things that seem unbelievable to us, if not to them.

    If a person chooses to be literate, I wouldn’t recommend them as a resource, in many cases. Literacy is wasted where there is no genuine interest in the bigger picture.

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    News @ 3

    All true. I was just thinking of people I know who don’t consider science-related (or what is purported to be science) issues at all. Anything they associate with a discussion of scientific ideas is passed over for anything else.

    I think science has been misrepresented in a way that intentionally excludes a lot of people for a long time. There’s a long-standing elitism that breeds disinterest, which goes along with what you are saying.

    Andrew

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