Authorities in Science: High Reputation Journals and Books

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In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of authorities in science and how it differs from other contexts such as religion, military, and government. It is noted that in science, there are no strict authorities and instead, a community of peers evaluates and publishes work through peer review and citation. While highly respected journals and books are seen as authorities, they can still be challenged and their reputation is often seen as a proxy for authority. Ultimately, scientists rely on the reputation and recommendations of others in the field to determine the validity of claims, especially in fields where experiments cannot be easily replicated.
  • #36
Dale said:
Is your concern really only about always-right-by-decree authority in the context of interpretations?
That was indeed the context in which ftr posted his original query (if you follow the links in post #1 a few steps backward).

But I don't really have a concern, I can live easily with the way science is done in our culture.
 
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  • #37
A. Neumaier said:
That was indeed the context in which ftr posted his original query (if you follow the links in post #1 a few steps backward).
Then I will move this back to the QM forum and disengage at this point. I have no interest in interpretations and less than no interest in the politics of interpretations.
 
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  • #38
A. Neumaier said:
Isn't this always the case when new insights meet tradition, aka Lehrmeinung? It simply takes some time until new findings get part of the curriculum. Defending old points of view is part of the tests that new theories have to pass. It is less the authority which counts, although in case of Copenhagen the scientists involved certainly have been authorities, but rather the human tendency to remain at the status quo. I just thought yesterday that the problem with a GUT is not the theory, it is the fact that the existing ones work so well.
This case is somewhat a puzzle for me, and it gets ever more enigmatic, the more I try to read Bohr's and Heisenberg's writings. They are pretty "philosophical" and that seems to be the whole trouble of the interpretation business until today. Why have Bohr and Heisenberg such an "authority on interpretation"? For me it's much easier to read Schrödinger (though he did not come with an own interpretation, mostly following Copenhagen but with a wellknown reservation and opposition against it), Dirac, and particularly Pauli. All were Copenhagenianers but just used the math of Born's rule and (another complete enigma for me) the collapse postulate.

Another case is Einstein, who, against the urban legend, understood QT in the CI best of all the mentioned founding fathers of QT, was a proponent of the incompleteness conjecture of QT in the sense of a local realistic HV theory as an underlying theory leading to QT as classical mechanics leads to statistical mechanics. Unfortunately, we don't know, how he'd have reacted, had he known Bell's analysis of the local realistic HV idea and the experimental falsification with confirmation of QT.
 
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  • #39
Science doesn't care any of it anyways. I just love reading scientific ideas mostly theoretical if it has any scientific validation, countless experimentation etc the better. The Author comes next. I only checked authors as reference and out of curiousity. You can validate through his work, not the person. Well his work holds more value anyways. Unless your the fanatic type. Reputation is more about indicators or guide.
 
  • #40
Dale said:
To me it seemed simply like an editorial decision that interpretations papers were out of scope for that specific journal. Personally I would take that statement as evidence that the editors of the journal share my opinion that interpretations are not science and they wanted to publish science rather than philosophy.

Is your concern really only about always-right-by-decree authority in the context of interpretations?
Foundations of QM is more broad than interpretations. I think it more reflects the poor quality of foundations papers at the time which were purely discursive without the technical and mathematical results you see today.
 
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  • #42
It seems to me science is a social construct and like othe social constructs has it's rituals and priests. However, what sets it apart is/was that the final authority was nature itself with the requirement for theory to predict repeatable experimental outcomes.

In areas of science where this is difficult due to only small groups having access to the necessary equipment or to restricting access to the data or where the theory fails to make testable predictions then this distinction become, in my opinion, blurred and open to fashion and other maladies that infect other social constructs.

Regards Andrew
 
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  • #43
It is a serious warning sign if someone in scientific discussion says the word "authority" or "consensus".
https://hsm.stackexchange.com/quest...ly-say-if-i-were-wrong-it-would-only-take-one

The book 100 Authors against Einstein was a cardinal example. There were only about 30 authors in the book. Even the title was wrong.

From recent years, I recall 32 researchers of the inflation hypothesis condemning the opinions of Paul Steinhardt. In climate studies, there are lists of thousands of people agreeing on some hypothesis, which seems to have about 1 sigma certainty at the first glance.

One has to read and understand publications to know who is an authority, that is, does few errors. For the layman, reading the papers is not possible. He has to trust famous people or whoever he thinks is reliable and knowledgeable.
 
  • #44
I've always thought of an "authority" as someone with special knowledge on some subject, but I like throwing reliability in as well. There are people with special knowledge about physics, about politics, about philosophy, plumbing, and so on. Not all of them reliable or reliable about communicating their knowledge. (Also, there probably aren't authorities about the behavior of Big Foots, but there probably are authorities on what people say about Big Foots.)

I've been influenced by an essay by Bertrand Russel, "On the Value of Scepticism (1928)",

There are matters about which those who have investigated them are agreed; the dates of eclipses may serve as an illustration. There are other matters about which experts are not agreed. Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. Einstein's view as to the magnitude of the deflection of light by gravitation would have been rejected by all experts not many years ago, yet it proved to be right. Nevertheless the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.
(Emphasis mine).
 

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