Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Fad Science

  1. Jun 16, 2010 #1
    Science is not immune to fads. Fads are strengthened by media and institutions entrenching details and hindering objectivity. Examples of what I would consider fad science are, global warming, string theory, quantum realities, a tone of stuff related to nutrition, dieting and health.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2010 #2
    That kind of thing is bound to happen when politicians and other non-scientists get to decide which research gets funded and which does not.
  4. Jun 20, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are a lot more "fads" than that in science. They're also more often called "hot topics." But, it's often because someone or some group has made a major breakthrough in a topic that suddenly makes it popular or possible for others to jump on it. The field of research is not necessarily a new one, it just gains rapid popularity, a lot of funding is put into it, progress is made, then a new "hot topic" comes along.

    I would actually argue this is a good method of doing and funding science. If a lot of funds, groups and resources are focused on a particular topic at the same time, more progress can be made quickly than if people are dabbling with it here and there. When new progress runs out of steam, it's time to turn to another subject.
  5. Jun 25, 2010 #4
    True, moonbear. It seems that there are numerous people working in academia and other settings that are waiting to capitalize on "the next big thing." These people are not so much scientists are they are successful sellers of science. They can milk as much money as possible out of everything interesting that science comes up with. And, of course, what scientist doesn't ultimately want to be showered in bounty and privilege? This includes being surrounded by warm peers who are similarly well-funded and confident in the prolific character of their own work. So, much if not most "science," imo, consists of people going through the motions of scientific exercises. The primary function of such "science" is to generate "buzz" and make it look like more than a handful of people are doing truly relevant work. Maybe this is overly cynical, but the more interesting question to me is what could all these fad-chasers be doing that would be more relevant. I don't think there is anything. I think what they are doing is the most effective way of pushing discourse ahead and ripening it for further breakthroughs. They just shouldn't be so insistent about the formalities and credentialism used to regulate who gets to participate in the "discursive buzz" and who doesn't. To much of science is geared toward regulating social inclusion/exclusion and not enough to multiplying discourse to its maximum potential, imo.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook