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Science – It’s No Longer Science As We Knew It – It’s Now Full of Statements of Blind Faith
The ultimate scientific guess; it is no longer science as we knew it!
I have always believed that science is sacrosanct, made up of a series of proven, testable, and tested facts and theories that have stood the test of time. I was obviously very wrong, damn wrong. Here is proof of my ignorance.
There is a theory known as string theory, a popular theory in science so revered and yet so unscientific! It sounds ridiculous. Yes this is a scientific theory which is damn unscientific, a statement of blind faith, notice I say blind faith and not just a statement of faith. There is a world of difference between faith and blind faith.
To start with, for newbies like me, the August 15, 2009 issue of The NewScientist gives me the simplistic little introduction to the problem that string theory has attempted to solve.
As most of us may not know, physics lacks a cohesive theory to explain how nature works, from the tiny blocks of nature to large bodies like planets and stars.
The NewScientist publication points out that the two existing theories that explain most things observed in nature, i.e. the theory of gravity and the quantum theory, contradict each other and therefore cannot both be true.
Stephen Hawking also mentions this contradiction in his bestseller, The Brief History of Time. In an attempt to reconcile the two, string theory emerged. The magazine goes on to say that “there is no agreement on how to arrive at a coherent theory.
In an attempt to solve the problem, a theory called string theory is the route preferred by most physicists, it merges gravity and quantum mechanics arguing that everything in nature originates from the vibration of tiny strings in a space-time 10 dimensional.
It’s too heavy especially for me the terminology used and wow in dimension ten!??! I can hardly grasp anything beyond “3D”, I mean three dimensions. Just hold your breath, you don’t need to understand a bit what I just quoted. I don’t need it because New Scientist goes on and speaks in more common language.
Before citing the NewScientist review, I consider a book review of two books critiquing string theory.
A book review of two works by well-known scientific scholars highlights the great science comeback that is string theory. Lee Smolin and Peter Woit, two scientists independently criticized string theory in their books. The books are “The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory and the Fall of Science” and “Not Even Wrong;
The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law”, written by the two scientists respectively. Theory has been the dominant area of research for the past 20 years in the area of unifying the two laws of science and, as the authors note, “the promise of theory has remained unfulfilled”, as book review. In science, a theory should make a prediction which should be tested and proven true or false.
The Smolins and Peter Woit conclude that “String theory is unscientific because it has made no predictions that could prove it wrong or otherwise”.
Another reason to reject the string theory approach is that it has so many variations, so much so that it’s impossible to tell which is the right one. Its malleability, its flexibility also call for doubt, it is easily adaptable to adopt new discoveries that appear and this has led many eminent scientists, including Richard Freyman, to say that “String theorists do not make predictions, they find excuses”.
Compare the theory as a ruler to measure the universe and its laws.
Having the task of measuring the length of many objects, you need a ruler. The rule must be stable and reliable. Just imagine having a malleable and elastic ruler, will you ever get the real measurements? This is the nature of so-called string theory. It is well said that in addition to telling you something about the size of that thing or object you are measuring, the measuring process can also tell you something about the ruler, in this case if you get that the measurements of two objects are equal but one is twice as long as the other, you can judge the reliability of the ruler.
The authors go on to say that there is something worse, “String theory has become more elaborate mathematically and its practitioners have begun to manipulate it as if the traditional scientific means of verification were utterly useless”. The authors go on to say that “Even physicists and mathematicians disagree on whether string theory is a series of abstract puzzles or if it says something about the real world!
Obviously, without verifiable predictions, it has little to say about the real world, if at all it is for human beings.” science, she may have later misled, our generation of theoretical physicists!
Other options to the solution to the problem of how nature works, the solution to the theory of everything, such as the one highlighted by the new scientist known as “looping quantum gravity” (whatever it is) don’t are no better, as the new scientist admits. That’s modern science for you. What a beautiful descent for science! Or has science ever been raised on the pedestal? I doubt! It’s still the fruitless old man poking around in God’s business.
Do you still believe in science as a path to truth? I conclude and agree with Naseem Taleb, the skeptical empiricist and a Riskmanager who admires science and observes that science is good but individual scientists are dangerous. Indeed, collective and groupthink is no reserve for the meek and we men and women on the street, The NewScientist mentions that groupthink is also quite common, even among scientists.
Do you still believe that science still lives up to its credo of staying scientific?
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