We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
One related example concerns Feynman's work on beta decay. An earlier experiment provided weak support for T neutron-proton coupling. After a while, it became accepted wisdom. Even though Feynman recognized it as weak support at the time, he still relied upon this "fact". Well, it was wrong. Only later, when new data showed a discrepancy, and after a few wrong steps because of the accepted wisdom, did a new theory emerge which also explained parity violations.
This is all pretty normal for scientific work, especially when there is little or ambiguous data. It's not as if the original experiment supporting T was nefarious.
That's always been the case. Modern peer review is just the start of the process of determining the validity of any study. And while a scientific finding can provide support, all hypotheses are considered tentative.
"This sentence is false." == Dog chases own tail, catches same.
Actually, I would assert that most published research findings are either irrelevant (i.e., of little interest) or incomplete rather than wrong, although a good proportion may properly be classified as incorrect. Incompleteness is not the same as erroneous, e.g., Newton's laws are not wrong but rather incomplete; they simply do not extend to the relativistic domain explored by Einstein.
PacRim Jim: Are scientific discovery and technical innovation now on asymptotic paths?
The mystery of dark energy, tantalizing glimpses of how the quantum world is expressed in the broad structure of the cosmos, mapping the human genome. Every year there are new scientific discoveries. Humans have barely touched the surface of the universe.
"Dark energy" is not a discovery, being a reflection of what we don't know rather than what we do know. It is the residual explanation cosmologists grasp in desperation after all other conceivable explanations have been eliminated. It is a modern-day phlogiston, though gussied up to make it respectable for polite, high-level conversation. When the mysterious ways of nature go beyond the existing limits of human comprehension, the witch doctors call it Black Magic....or Dark Energy.
Breathless Discovery-Channel speculations aside, there's good reason to think we're continuing to make solid scientific discoveries in all kinds of fields. I suspect that in every age, most of what people believed was being discovered was balderdash. That's certainly the impression one gets from reading about the bitter disputes among scientists over the last several centuries. One hundred years from now, people probably will be looking back on what we are working on now and concluding that lots of it was silly, while other parts held up. Aren't there always hacks among us? And opportunistic politicians dressed up as researchers?
Breathless Discovery-Channel speculations aside.... Don't forget Nova. Talk about doing science a disservice. Real science is plodding and pedestrian, and the would-be scientist had better be that kind of person. In the '50s, I was a boy bacteriologist (published twice in peer review journals), until becoming totally bored with science and taking up an aviation career. Have never regretted it.
No, human nature has not changed in the last several thousand years, nor is it likely to. Hubris. Every generation thinks they are the bees knees. But in fact, we are still in the stone ages. Sorry to burst bubbles. No I'm not. Look around guys. This 'new' age stuff so popular today is basically a throwback to witchcraft, druids, Delphic oracle, nature worshiping, sacrificing for weather, crops and fertility, OLD age crap. Animal rights? Homosexual marriage? Hate crimes? Yup, real advanced we are. NOT.