Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

That inevitable moment in the life of every pretentious pseudo-intellectual has arrived: I have read Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and now I will pontificate about it.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, the blurb tells us that Structure, first published in 1962, was “a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science”. The Introductory Essay in my copy opens: “Great books are rare. This is one. Read it and you will see.” You need more? Structure was the source of the term “paradigm shift”, and is a hell of a lot shorter than the source of the term “Catch 22”. (Admittedly less funny.)

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Danish Paper: One Year Later

Pre-requisite reading: The Irresistable Allure of Controversy.

Here is where I left the story one year ago.

The “Danish Paper” had claimed to find previously unnoticed correlations in the background noise in the first LIGO gravitational-wave observation, GW150914, and many readers’ interpretation of this interpretation of the data was that maybe the first detection was not as slam-dunk as it first appeared. Sabine Hossenfelder wrote an online post in Forbes that propelled the paper out of its just-another-arXiv-entry obscurity, with the innocent title, “Was it all just noise?” A subset of the LIGO collaboration bravely sacrificed time that would otherwise have been wasted doing actual scientific research, and leaped to PR firefighting duty, and their response, a careful dismantling of the Danish Paper’s claims, was released to the world through that true apotheosis of science communication, Sean Carroll’s blog. That was the point at which I decided to join the fun.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A blog burst on the horizon: The Danish Paper redux, Losing the Nobel Prize, Philip Roth, Thomas Kuhn, and The Ashtray

After another long absence, during which I was trying to do many other amazing things that I eventually did not do, it is time for a few more blog posts. This is an advance warning, mostly to make me feel sufficiently obligated that I really do write them.