Re: Science

From: Joao Leao <>
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 11:33:40 -0500

Ben Goertzel wrote:

> > Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
> >
> > --Tim May
> >
> One frustrating thing is that it seems almost arbitrary *which* unproven
> extraordinary claims are celebrated with attention and funding.
> The amount of attention paid to string theory perplexes me, for example.
> Yes, it's interesting. But very speculative -- certainly there is no
> "extraordinary proof."

> Yet string theory is well respected and well funded, whereas other equally
> speculative theories are not.

I must confess to the same perplexity about superstring/D-brane/M-theory!
It is not just amazing that, after some 15 years of effort by the
"best minds of physics", this line of work has not produced an empirically
verifiable prediction but that most of its pratictioners don't seem
intent on producing one! I have heard it argued that string theories are "so
beautiful they must be true" or better yet that "its theorists are so
of their ultimate validity that that is enough to convince everybody else!"

> Now, this probably just means that the current community of physicists has
> its own "collective intuition", and string theory happens to agree with it

> But to me this is a clue to worry that the collective intuition may be way
> wrong...

I have strong doubts that something like a "collective intuition" or a
consensus" is tha case for such theories as Inflationary Cosmology of
Superstring Theories is the case. It is perhaps the abundance of (equaly
speuclative) alternatives that explains the prevalence of these ideas. The
dust refuses to settle...

> Which is why I think a list like this, with open discussion of speculations
> *besides* the conventionally-sanctioned speculations, is such a good thing.
> -- Ben Goertzel


-Joao Leao

Joao Pedro Leao  :::
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
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Received on Mon Jan 13 2003 - 11:36:14 PST

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