The Physics Police

This article went viral: Dear Dr B: Why not string theory?

This article is a casebook example of the the modus operandi of liberalism, which is to try to ‘save’ people from perceived evils as determined by said liberal, whether it be big corporations, ‘greedy’ capitalists, ‘predatory’ lenders, genetically modified food, ‘institutional racism’ (a favorite), an so on. Or how liberals try to intervene in the marketplace, because they think they know what is ‘best’.

In this article, it’s about ‘saving’ scientists from wasting time on string theory, because Sabine Hossenfelder has apparently taken it upon herself to be the arbiter of what is worthwhile or not, for the ‘good’ of the physics community.

Because we might be wasting time and money and, ultimately, risk that progress stalls entirely.

Some days I side with Polchinski and Gross and don’t think it makes that much of a difference. It really is an interesting topic and it’s promising. On other days I think we’ve wasted 30 years studying bizarre aspects of a theory that doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding quantum gravity, and it’s nothing but an empty bubble of disappointed expectations. Most days I have to admit I just don’t know.

New theories take not just decades, but centuries to develop. There was at least a three-hundred year gap between the development of Newtonian gravity and general relativity. Much of string theory is only a couple decades old. If physicists and mathematicians decide that string theory is untenable, they will gradually abandon it, similar to how in capitalism products become obsoleted in favor of newer, better ones. There is no need for someone to determine which theories are worth pursuing or or not; the ‘marketplace’ of ideas does that automatically, gradually nudging the natural progression of research towards better ideas as old ones are discarded or modified. For example, 120 years ago aether theories were conjectured the propagation of light and gravitation, but these theories were later were supplanted by special relativity.