Attracting People

Well, an institutionalized physicist must know how to attract people to work on his ideas or (as actually having ideas becomes something so rare nowadays) on the ideas he is also working on. This is the main reason why you will never find a professor that wants to hire a student or employee to say how many problems his idea has and where are the weak points. In general if they want to attract you in their field they will tell you how perfectly consistent that theory is. The same happens for grant applications etc. There is always a positive bias about one’s ideas or projects and this is why there are very few discussions where true problems are analyzed outside of some small groups. The Bohr-Einstein discussions are practically impossible nowadays mainly because the groups are now formed from people with the same ideas and ways of thinking and because they almost never listen to ideas from groups working on different subjects. There are also lots of incompetent people speaking about nonsense and trying to change things that are essentially all-right and experimentally verified like special or general relativity, quantum mechanics, etc. You will probably find hundreds of “new” interpretations of quantum mechanics explained to “the public” in ways that can hurt your mind but it is very unlikely to find elaborate observations about less popular but important topics like “topology and string theory” or “uniqueness proofs in string theory” (well, if they exist, anyway…)

Attracting people is an important aspect in “the business” for those interested in the business as it is but this should not imply hiding the problems, instead one should point out where the problems are. In some cases the “problems” are problems of “expectations” i.e. what one can expect from a theory? Say, string theory or supersymmetry: they both have some strong and valid points to make but they are both completely over-rated in their importance and especially in their “uniqueness claims”… and this for good reason: one has to attract people and avoid creating nasty competition… As long as one thinks in terms of competing groups and not in terms of understanding nature progress is bound to be slow…

so, no, there will probably not be Bohr-Einstein discussions anytime soon…


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