A science writer looks at a number of examples from physics:
“The way in which a community behaves is constructed over a long social progress, made by power structures, years of training, reward systems, rules of competition and collaboration between and within different groups,” says Roberto Lalli, research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He says that history has shown that subcultures within physics—such as theoretical or particle physics—are relatively stable, and that it’s likely that places like CERN and ideas within the paradigm will continue to be considered the most plausible.
“This attitude is not only due to authority bias, but also has to do with first-hand knowledge of the internal reviewing systems within experimental groups,” Lalli said. “This creates a system of trust, which will not change in a sudden way.” Social pressures, like the continual fight for funding and university positions, also make communities more unwilling to accept those from outside the mainstream.
But a case still can, and should, be made for seeking new standards for the system. A sterling reputation can be hard to come by in a digital world, where obtaining visibility can be like shouting over a million voices, and the difficulty of the academic job market has spread talent widely beyond the most well-known institutions. Additionally, outsider ideas can help break the echo chamber that comes of only speaking to those within a relatively closed community.Claudia Geib, “How Much Should Expectation Drive Science?” at Nautilus
The problem is that people can come to think of approved stagnation as a duty and stagnating as a virtue. Correct procedures are followed without much result and everything is fine. Maybe things simply must stay that way until a new genius comes along and shakes it all up.
But what if people find that they cannot listen to the genius in principle?
See also: Sabine Hossenfelder: Don’t Expect Too Much From New Proposals To Detect Dark Matter
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