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String theory as if evidence mattered

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At Not Even Wrong, mathematician Peter Woit writes

Last month’s Strings 2014 conference in Princeton included two remarkable talks by prominent physicists, both of whom invoked philosophy in a manner unprecedented for this kind of scientific gathering. On the first day, Paul Steinhardt attacked the current practice of inflationary cosmology as able to accommodate any experimental result, so, on philosophical grounds, no longer science. He included a video clip of Richard Feynman characterizing this sort of thing as “cargo cult physics”. On the final day, David Gross interpreted Steinhardt’s talk as implicitly applying to string theory, then went on to invoke a philosopher’s new book to defend string theory, arguing that string theorists needed to read the book in order to learn how to defend what they do as science.

So defending string theory as science has only just now occurred to them?

To see why string theory or any similar enterprise in new cosmology need not be defended on the basis of evidence, see The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).

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One Reply to “String theory as if evidence mattered

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    There is a lot of logic in the Cargo Cult. But I get the idea that there is less logic in String Theory.

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