Why Trust a Theory? Reconsidering Scientific Methodology in Light of Modern Physics


String theory to the rescue/sites/default/files/users/joep/Dawid15.pdf

Further remarks part 1, complete/sites/default/files/users/joep/Dawid2A.15.pdf

As is standard, I submitted these two reviews for the conference "WHY TRUST A THEORY? RECONSIDERING SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY IN LIGHT OF MODERN PHYSICSto the arXiv.  However, because I had included quotes to a blog by Peter Woit, and some direct criticism of Woit, this created an unfair situation.  Woit, as a blogger rather than an active scientist, was not allowed to reply to this criticism.  This was brought to my attention by several people, and I responded as quickly as possible by removing that section of the arxiv post.  The complete form is retained here on my site.

To be clear, I stand by all statements made previously.  My only regret is that I did not do so much sooner, as that blog seems to be widely read. The actual scientific quality is so very poor, as was easily seen by contrasting with the way that leading scientists actually work and think. 

On a broader note, I have long felt it important to keep clear the distiction between the primary scientific literature, which is the subject of the arXiv, and secondary literature such as blogs.  The latter do not present original scientific work, are usually ephemeral in content, and often do not hold to the usual comportment of science.  It is important that the arrow of causation generally run from the primary to the secondary, with only careful exceptions.  It is therefore unfortunate that I violated my own principle, and I have corrected it as quickly as possible.

Finally, I had not intended to single out the authors of section 4.2 quite so starkly.  Another planned section is entitled "Bad science," with several additional authors.  However, I had to wait until vidios from the meeting were available, and now there is likely to be an extended delay for personal reasons.