A good reason scientists are so hostile to new ideas

        Every few months, new headlines fly around the world claiming to revolutionize one or more of our most entrenched scientific ideas. Manifestos are always radical and revolutionary, from “The Big Bang never happened” to “This idea eliminates dark matter and dark energy” to “Black holes are not real” to “This unexpected astronomical phenomenon may be aliens.” However, despite the enthusiastic coverage of this new proposal, it has more often than not remained in the background, attracting little public attention, except for numerous rejections.
        Often, scholars in this particular field are portrayed as dogmatic, old-fashioned, and narrow-minded. This narrative may be popular among conflicting scientists or those who themselves hold fringe beliefs, but it paints a false picture of scientific truth. Indeed, the evidence supporting popular theories is overwhelming, and compelling new proposals are no more convincing than scientists playing sandbox games. Here are the four main pitfalls that new ideas usually have and why you never hear about most of them after they’re first proposed.
        1.) When you work with the “real McCoy” every day, you can immediately spot the impostor’s flaws. In science, we have accumulated a huge amount of knowledge – a set of experimental and observational data – and a set of theories that provide the basis for accurately describing the governing rules of our reality. Many of the results we obtained were initially strange and counterintuitive, and many theoretical possibilities were proposed to explain them. Over time, further experiments and observations weeded them out, and the most successful and effective theories survived.
        Proposals that attempt to revolutionize one (or more) of our accepted theories must overcome a number of hurdles. In particular, they must:
        Compliance with all three conditions is very rare. In fact, the vast majority of these grand proposals fail even on the first point.
        Attempts to explain the Universe without the hot Big Bang have failed to explain the existence and properties of the cosmic microwave background: the omnidirectional radiation known for over 55 years. The argument that gravitational wave detectors see noise and not a signal ignores the body of evidence linking electromagnetic observations to their gravitational wave counterparts. The idea that gravity could come from another entity such as entropy led to absurd results for the dark matter problem because it failed to keep the ratio of dark matter to normal matter necessarily constant.
        By scientific standards, it is not enough to come up with a crazy idea to explain a property that is inexplicable by currently accepted theory. A new observation can always be explained with a new “free parameter”, which is a friendly way of saying “invoking something completely new”. However, if this new theoretical addition lacks the ability to explain other phenomena as well, it is unlikely to attract serious attention.
        2.) Many “new ideas” are unoriginal repackagings of old, discredited ideas that don’t deserve revision. Most of us, if we have any imagination at all, have at some point played what-if games about some aspect of reality. Perhaps you yourself asked this question, and you had such thoughts:
        All of these ideas are good. There are many works about them and study them in great detail.
        But each of them had difficulties that led to their rejection, and there is no new evidence to support them over popular theories. For example, the idea that the universe could have a non-trivial topology is still intriguing, but if so, then the evidence suggests that whatever the “size” of the universe is, it must be much larger than the entire observable universe. If any of our elementary particles were compound particles, they would not exhibit this behavior under any experimental conditions that we have ever examined.
        If there is no dark matter or dark energy, but there is a field interpretation, then this interpretation requires at least two new free parameters: a “lumpy” parameter that behaves like dark matter, and a “smooth” parameter that behaves like the life force of dark matter . These reformulations do you no good, and in many cases you simply add complexity by explaining the puzzle in an inferior way. There’s no reason why you can’t explore these possibilities, but if you can’t explain something that a conventional theory can’t, or if you can’t reduce the number of free parameters your theory requires, then you’re left playing in the sandbox.
        3.) To begin with conclusions about ideological motives is fundamentally unscientific. This is one of the most dangerous traps that scientists can fall into, especially the young and inexperienced. If you’ve come across a mystery or problem that annoys or fascinates you, you might be thinking, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if ____________ could explain what we’re seeing?” There is absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of thinking, there is nothing wrong with exploring the theoretical implications of what your idea might mean for the universe that we can observe.
        But there’s a line when you cross it that pushes you from a real scientist into crazy territory: when you’re convinced your idea is right. When you take this step, you decide, “I know what the conclusion is,” which means you fiddle with your theory until it gives you the conclusion you know you need to come to. This approach of building the model backwards may give you the desired result, but it will not be scientific.
        Many scientists have fallen into this trap. Fred Hoyle concluded that the universe must have been in a steady state and could not have been hot and dense in origin, despite overwhelming evidence from the Big Bang. Arthur Eddington was adamant that stars in the universe could never acquire properties beyond certain limits, although observational evidence suggests that these limits are often exceeded. Even Einstein himself concluded that quantum “randomness” must have a deterministic explanation and that gravity and classical electromagnetism would lead to a unification of forces; none of these ways gave any result.
        In many ways, these influential scientists largely held back progress in their fields until their deaths, and the lesson is that your physical intuition – no matter who you are or what you have achieved – cannot replace for us legitimate information obtained from help. Ask the universe questions about yourself. This is why Johannes Kepler abandoned his “beautiful” theory of nested spheres and ideal rigid bodies in favor of the “ugly” theory of elliptical orbits, which fits the data better than anything else and is still an outstanding example of how to do science the right way. .
        4.) The job of scientists is to sternly attack their own hypotheses, which “proponents of new ideas” often fail to do. Do you have an idea that you love it? Many of us do this, and this is a huge problem for us. In science, we are the harshest critics of our own ideas, because before we show our discoveries to the world, we study them in depth and evaluate them by others. If you try to disprove your idea—find its weaknesses, expose its limits of applicability, find out where it falls short of the theory it seeks to replace—and fail—someone else will do it for you. Job.
        It’s not cruel. It’s not closed. This, of course, is not adherence to dogma. This is a necessary part of science: careful study and evaluation of any new hypothesis. While it may be unfortunate, most “new ideas” collapse under the weight of evidence already collected, just as most ideas originally proposed to explain a new phenomenon end up describing the whole event with astonishing inconsistency. A set of evidence provided by the universe.
        It’s easy to see why if you have an idea you like, you want other people to like it too. But it’s hard to convince other scientists—especially those with an appropriate level of skepticism about ideas—that your idea is worthy of love if you haven’t put it through the necessary scrutiny. For example, if you want to propose a theory in which different wavelengths of light travel at different speeds, it’s best that it doesn’t contradict any multi-wavelength observations of light from distant objects that we’ve already collected.
       If you have an idea that is not in the mainstream, you will definitely want to ask a few questions.
       As Richard Feynman once so eloquently put it: “The first principle is that you cannot fool yourself—and you are the easiest to fool.”
        The demand for scientific rigor is not an act of cruelty, dogmatism, or narrow-mindedness. On the contrary, it is a sign of honesty, the desire to find scientific truth regarding any problem or phenomenon that you are researching. There are many great, brilliant ideas that have been consigned to the historical dustbin of failed theories for one of the most important reasons: because they didn’t fit our observable reality. No matter how exotic or attractive an idea is, if it doesn’t fit with experiments, measurements, and observations, it’s wrong.
        There are many compelling, interesting and actionable ideas, and there is always plenty of room to guess the unknown. But every time we consider a new, alternative idea, we must do so through the lens of scientific rigor. We cannot simply choose what phenomena we want to focus on and ignore those aspects of reality that do not contradict our favorite ideas.
        In the end, the universe will always be the ultimate arbiter of what is real and what theory best describes our reality. But we – rational beings engaged in scientific activity – have to strictly unravel these truths. If we don’t do it responsibly, we risk fooling ourselves into believing what we want to be true. In science, integrity and intellectual honesty are the ideals to which we must strive.

Post time: Mar-03-2023