Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

September 27, 2006

Is String Theory Unraveling? Does Sprouting New Brain Cells Cure Depression?

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 5:48 am

Scientific American magazine in a recent Science News column identified six “raging debates” in current scientific theory. The articles remind us that scientific theory is created, developed, and supported (or not) in a process involving people and time, and that its final, accepted form will seldom be the same as its earliest iterations. Here’s the introduction:

Textbooks usually make the triumph of a scientific theory seem inevitable and uncontestable. But at the time that a theory is being forged, the reality is not nearly so tidy. An experimental result is only clear-cut if researchers agree on how to interpret it. Individuals may have conflicting hunches about what nature is up to, however, and a finding that is conclusive to one scientist may be unimpressive to another. In some cases the ideal experiment is not yet possible. In others only one or a few data points exist. Disagreement is productive, though. It forces each side to clarify its views and to find experiments that will distinguish one idea from another. And in the end, researchers generally come to a new consensus. Experiments corroborate each other. Theories make defensible predictions. And new students come along who lack the prejudices of their predecessors. Science marches ahead, in other words, erasing m any records of dissent along the way. Here are six raging debates that textbooks will one day no doubt present as cut-and-dried:

Is String Theory Unraveling?

Is Global Warming Raising a Tempest?

How Does A Planet Grow?

Should Epidemiologists Swear Off Diet Trials?

Does Sprouting New Brain Cells Cure Depression?

Was the Hobbit Just a Sick Modern Human?

For example, the give-and-take process in critically challenging string theory is engaged – two recent books critical of the current state of the theory are being reviewed these days, including this review in Scientific American.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] For example, the give-and-take process in critically challenging string theory is engaged – two recent books critical of the current state of the theory are being reviewed these days, including this review in Scientific American. Comments (0) […]

    Pingback by Gini Nelson’s Engaging Conflicts » Cyberweek 2006 Continues With Mediation Excellence Online — EngagingConflicts.com — December 17, 2006 @ 2:50 pm | Reply


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