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String theory is not science!

  1. Jul 14, 2009 #1
    "String theory is not science!"

    So there seems to be a lot of people bashing String Theory for not being real science (real science being theories with predictive/explanatory power). For instance:

    https://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Phys...=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247598702&sr=8-2

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=286

    http://www.tellmehowto.net/howto/string_theory_is_not_science_4567

    etc...

    Where do we draw the line between science and useless speculation such as Intelligent Design theory, and is string theory any better than ID?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Jul 14, 2009 #2

    Evo

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Intelligent Design is a religion, so it has nothing to do with scientific theory.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Jul 14, 2009 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    I think his point is that an important way that science distinguishes itself from religion is that scientific theories produce testible, falsifiable results. String theory does not, just like ID does not. So how is string theory any better than ID.
     
  5. Jul 14, 2009 #4

    Evo

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Because it's not a religion? The two aren't even comparable. ID was made up by a group of religious extremists, that is a well known fact. Trying to compare the two is ludicrous. I know he isn't touting ID.

    If someone wants to question the scientific merits of string theory, that's fine.

    How is string theory better than ID? I guess one major way is that string theory wasn't created as a device to introduce religion into the public education system under the disguise of science.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  6. Jul 14, 2009 #5
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    String Theory is pure mathematics, so it has nothing to do with scientific theory.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Jul 14, 2009 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Its history is not really relevant to the question, i.e. that's a weak case for distinguishing between the two.

    The question could be more easily phrased as: how is string theory not a religion?
     
  8. Jul 14, 2009 #7
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Who makes a theory has nothing to do with the theory being valid science. It is scientific or it is not -- it does not matter who makes it. You keep asserting ID theory is religion but string theory is not. Why?
     
  9. Jul 14, 2009 #8

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    OK, now we're getting to the meat.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting the string theory is religion. They're saying it's not valid as a theory because it does not make predictions. The entire religion argument of yours is a red herring.

    While true, ID also does not make predictions, it is for a different reason.

    String theory and ID both belong to the same superset: 'things that are not theories because they do not make predictions', but that does not mean string theory and ID are themselves the same set.
     
  10. Jul 14, 2009 #9
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=string+theory+is+religion&btnG=Google+Search

    Many people call string theory religion or at the very least philosophy. You'll have to explain how this is a red herring. I don't see how it detracts at all from the main argument.

    What are the different reasons for ID and String Theory not making predictions?

    Well obviously you can break the same superset down into any set you want and say something is in a different set than something else, but...so? I guess I don't understand your point. I'm just eager to know if string theory is not science and if it is religion.
     
  11. Jul 14, 2009 #10
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    String theory is essentially a mathematical model constructed by physicist to address specific technical problems. Although string theory has still after decades of developments it own problems, it is wrong to simply state that it can not make any definitive unambiguous prediction.
    It can not make any NEW prediction (yet). The difference is not subtle. For instance, it might be some day that string theory has finalized the reformulation of the standard model of particle physics, but has not allowed for new experimentally testable predictions (not in principle, but in practice). However, string theory is definitely already useful for scientists, as it has triggered the developments of many new pieces of mathematics on its own, some of which are not pure game of thoughts, as illustrated by the recent calculations related to high temperature superconductivity, or holographic models of QCD (for instance). If the situation continues like this, it is possible that, although string theory would NOT produce genuine new predictions which we could verify (this scenario is to illustrate what is wrong with the above discussion), we would still trust string theory at very high energy where it would be self-consistent and today's standard model would not (and that is not a religious form of science, that is rational and reasonable).
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  12. Jul 14, 2009 #11

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Simply put: religion is faith-based belief. In what way is string theory a religion at all?

    Actually, that's an excellent point. The main (OP) argument had nothing to do with religion. That was not introduced until Evo's post.

    If I may restate the OP: string theory seems to be unable to make any useful predictions. Does this not invalidate it as a scientific theory?

    Many people think so, yes.
    However, that does not mean it isn't worth studying, as humanino points out.
    So, the question of whether it is really a theory is, arguably, largely a semantic one.
     
  13. Jul 14, 2009 #12
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    All belief is faith based. There is always uncertainty associated with any event (the sun rising, for example), so we use evidence to show our faith is well placed.

    I have to concede your point here -- I was wrong. My post indeed had nothing to do with religion, but it interests me now.

    A lot of people question whether it is worth studying after not having produced a falsifiable idea in the 30 years (?) it has been around.
     
  14. Jul 14, 2009 #13

    Evo

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    Yes, to clarify that ID is religion. :uhh: So, yes the OP was comparing science to religion. DUH. Or did the OP not know that? Ignorance of a fact does not change the fact.

    Anyway, humanino made an excellent post. He knows what he is talking about, I would suggest that anyone reading this thread try to understand what he wrote.
     
  15. Jul 14, 2009 #14
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    No, I knew exactly what I did, which was to compare two theories. You claim ID is religion, but you have not demonstrated why. As far as I can tell ID makes no predictive statements. That is characteristic of a nonscientific theory -- not religion. If you want to subscribe ID theory not only to the set of nonscientific theories but to the subset of religion, you'll need to make some argument for doing so.
     
  16. Jul 14, 2009 #15

    Evo

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    No, Intelligent Design is NOT a theory, (in your scenario) nor is it science, it's religion. Lack of knowledge of what you are posting about does not make your post correct.

    You really need to learn to research subjects before you post about them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  17. Jul 14, 2009 #16
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    I agree ID is not science, but I do not agree it is not a theory or that it is religion. You keep asserting the latter points are true, but you have not demonstrated it.
     
  18. Jul 14, 2009 #17
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    I've always found the reported feynman quote quite illuminating and pithy here (although he probably never actually said it):

    "Religion is a culture of faith, science is a culture of doubt".
     
  19. Jul 14, 2009 #18

    Evo

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    :rofl: It was decided in a court of law! Oy vey. :rolleyes:

    And I'm not kidding when I say that you need to make an effort to understand what you are posting about.
     
  20. Jul 14, 2009 #19

    Pythagorean

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    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    While I may agree with your conclusion, I think this is another weak argument (which doesn't go well with condescending smileys.)
     
  21. Jul 14, 2009 #20
    Re: "String theory is not science!"

    String theory is hardly the first scientific theory that was not immediately experimentally testable. Generally their is a flurry of scientific progress whenever a new experimental probe is invented (the microscope, the telescope, time-of-flight neutron scattering, x-rays, electron microscope, etc.) and sometimes, especially in things like physics (which is strongly rooted in math) the science jumps ahead of verifiability. I don't see why that shoud mean it is no longer "science". Einstein had to wait for Eddington, Faraday had to wait for Maxwell. However, if the case were that string theory could never be verified then that would be a different story. However, even if it wasn't EVER verifiable but it significantly simplified the mathematical structure (and got rid of the "three animals lashed together" electroweak theory) then I'd say it would be scientific to accept based on nothing but occam's razor.
     
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