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Book Review: “Why String Theory?” by Joseph Conlon

30 May 2016, 13:43 UTC
Book Review: “Why String Theory?” by Joseph Conlon
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Why String Theory? By Joseph ConlonCRC Press (November 24, 2015) I was sure I’d hate the book. Let me explain.I often hear people speak about the “marketplace of ideas” as if science was a trade show where researchers sell their work. But science isn’t about manufacturing and selling products, it’s about understanding nature. And the sine qua non for evaluating the promise of an idea is objectivity.In my mind, therefore, the absolutely last thing that scientists should engage in is marketing. Marketing, advertising, and product promotion are commercial tactics with the very purpose of affecting their targets’ objectivity. These tactics shouldn’t have any place in science.Consequently, I have mixed feelings about scientists who attempt to convince the public that their research area is promising, with the implicit or explicit goal of securing funding and attracting students. It’s not that I have a problem with scientists who write for the public in general – I have a problem with scientists who pass off their personal opinion as fact, often supporting their conviction by quoting the number of people who share their beliefs.In the last two decades this procedure has created an absolutely astonish amount of so-called “science” books about string theory, ...

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