Culture Intelligent Design Media Multiverse

Why do science journalists promote “fake physics” to the public?

Spread the love

Asks Columbia mathematician Peter Woit at Not Even Wrong:

University press offices and grant agencies put out irresponsible hype about the work of one their faculty or grantees. In this case, it’s Taming the multiverse: Stephen Hawking’s final theory about the big bang from Cambridge, and Stephen Hawking’s last paper, co-authored with ERC grantee Thomas Hertog, proposes a new cosmological theory, in which universe is less complex and finite from the European Research Council.

And, of course, pop science media run with it, even if it’s old and debunked news. Woit laments,

This is rather depressing, making one feel that there’s no way to fight this kind of bad science, in the face of determined efforts to promote fake physics to the public. It’s one thing for journalists to be misled by a new variant on an old debunked story, but that they’re getting misled again by exactly the same story is a new development. More.

Part of the problem is that most science writing is not like traditional investigative journalism. The science writer hides behind the prestige of a science institution on which he depends and justifies his lack of critical thinking by citing that very prestige. He doesn’t see himself as a constructive critic. Perhaps he dare not. Call it pom pom waving if you like.

Anyway, if it is anything to do with the multiverse, it may be something he wants to believe too badly for critical thinking to feel tolerable.

See also: Stephen Hawking’s final theory scales back multiverse

Sabine Hossenfelder: Hawking’s final theory is just one of “some thousand” speculations

Did Stephen Hawking discover a means of detecting parallel universes just before he died? This sounds a lot like grief talking but we’ll see.

Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

2 Replies to “Why do science journalists promote “fake physics” to the public?

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    The Press is in the Entertainment business. Serious scientific discussions are boring or meaningless to viewers who never quite understood Science in junior high.

    So, if you wanna sell papers (or advertising seconds on cable), give the viewers something that says Science is easy to understand and that the hot new thing is just like in Star Wars.

    The same is true for History and of course Economics: if it takes more than 90 seconds to explain, it’s too complicated. And of course the real question, from a producer’s point of view is “how does this make the viewer FEEL?”

    Global Warming continues to sell papers because clearly opponents of Global Warming are evil people and, well, polar bears are cute (or look cute in pictures taken from several hundred yards away).

  2. 2
    chris haynes says:

    It seems that you’re shifting the blame from the true culprits, namely the complictic scientists as individuals, the research universities, and the funding agencies. It is their duty is to see that the truth is told, for it is they who best know what the truth is.

    Of course, when their snouts are in the public trough, their failures to give the public the truth is also theft. But that is less serious, as the toleration of error by experts is far more serious than mere stealing.

Leave a Reply