John Horgan asks at Scientific American if science is hitting a wall:
Economists show increased research efforts are yielding decreasing returns
The economists are concerned primarily with what I would call applied science, the kind that fuels economic growth and increases wealth, health and living standards. Advances in medicine, transportation, agriculture, communication, manufacturing and so on. But their findings resonate with my claim in The End of Science that “pure” science—the effort simply to understand rather than manipulate nature–is bumping into limits. And in fact I was invited to The Session because an organizer had read my gloomy tract, which was recently republished. I had lots of reactions to The Session. Here are a few:
In the realm of pure science, many physicists remain stubbornly committed to strings and multiverses, things too small and large ever to be observed. Theories of consciousness have also gotten wackier lately. Prominent experts are espousing panpsychism, which holds that consciousness might be a property of many kinds of matter, not just brains. As with strings and multiverses, panpsychism cannot be experimentally confirmed. More.
As so often, Horgan has put his finger on the problem. What cannot be experimentally confirmed is not really science. The multiverse and panpsychism are efforts to substitute naturalist philosophy for science.
The key question is, are there no new discoveries to be made or is naturalism preventing them?
See also: Postpone the climate apocalypse, will you, till we finish trimming the shrubs? (John Horgan)
Nature tries to referee Horgan vs. the Skeptics
Scientific American: Science writer John Horgan still doubts cosmic inflation …
The multiverse is science’s assisted suicide