recent interactions has made me realize that almost no one in this society has a grip on what scientific knowledge actually is, leading to very ignorant people in this country and world.

the recent admittance of a mistake in the faster-than-light neutrinos. some of the more ignorant comments makes me sad

"15 000 thousand tests, and now there's a "loose wire"? Please.

I guarentee when this wire gets "fixed" the results will remain unchanged, and they'll start looking for another "flaw" in the research.

This is just the Religion of Theoretical Physics protecting its highest god, Einstein. He was wrong. Get over it." 

"Another thing that people do not understand that this is a SERIOUSLY CONTROLLED experiment. Everything is checked and rechecked. We do not even have equipment that actually sees all of the light spectrum, which also includes other particles. Light and radiation are only super excited particles traveling at very high speeds. This is only because of political and scientific pressures."

"Wow.. Scientists who are fudging the numbers, who knew? =P

This is proof of the break down in integrity in science, glad to see a correction, hope they dont announce anything else so dramatic without CONFIRMATION. That is NOT the way science works. But, sensation and the desire for grant money blinds many.

And people wonder why I wont ever eat factory farmed test tube meat that they will produce in 20 years. THIS is why!"

these irritate and sadden me; this fundamental misunderstanding of science (and philosophy of science) gives people ammo to just deny science and viewing is as "just another religion"

if anyone wonders about

is scientific knowledge is? does science tell us about the actual world or just our experience of the world? 

the professor is probably the most interesting part.

he teaches at Lehigh University where a famous ID proponent (behe). so it is interesting to watch someone from his university tear his whole theory (well, all of ID in general) a metaphorical new corn-shoot

but i don't want this to be a pitch for this company; unfortunately this lecture is one of the best thing on the topic, and you can find it for free online if you look      

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Replies to This Discussion

Anthony -- I much appreciate what you are saying.  I've recently blogged on a subject related to this:


You can find it here:

Thanks for the post!


This is proof of the break down in integrity in science, glad to see a correction, hope they dont announce anything else so dramatic without CONFIRMATION. That is NOT the way science works. But, sensation and the desire for grant money blinds many.

It would be indeed a sad day for humanity when people will start loosing faith inthe integrity of scientific research. Scientists involved in making false claims in the name of science do not seem to realise what enormous crime they are commiting for small gains.

the problem with that is that scientists don't simply hold stuff back. getting information out there for others to check (peer review) finding is why science has the integrity.

there is a real disagreement on the actions of the scientists themselves for how they released this information.

  • they let this out to attract funding and were careless
  • or, that they did the experiment several times and wanted to put it out there for peer-review

i would make the comparison to the pilt-down man and other creationist favorites; the scientists were not the ones making the false claims but the media of the time  

I apologize in advance for the length but I think the details of this controversy are necessary to really understand the science.

Madhukar and Anthony - this report is an example of science at its best. Two respected institutions, CERN and OPERA, collaborate on an experiment about neutrinos, strange particles that pass through matter freely. The measurements are extremely difficult so their methods were detailed and well thought out. They were shocked by the result and weren't looking for it, but because of its importance if accurate, they published it on with a detailed account of how the measurement was made. is an open access site where scientists in many fields post their research and others can see the details and comment on the research.

The press reported it because of its importance, interviewing many experts who were excited but skeptical because of the difficult measurement. The investigators are part of institutions not funded by grants but by international cooperation. This experiment required many scientists and engineers plus extremely expensive equipment - the Large Hadron Collider where the particles are generated alone cost over $10 billion.

This new report is about a possible issue with the copper in a cable at CERN which would affect the results. Just to add to the intrigue a new report from Feb. 22 about another small problem in the measurement could cancel out the copper wiring ones. We've also yet to hear from the institutions attempting to recreate the experiment!

Science at its best - extraordinary results require extraordinary proof. But if the results are true all of physics will be hard at work to understand the universe in new ways.

I think that is his point. Extraordinary results need accurate extraordinary evidence. Indeed this was a great view of the scientific method at work. It is unfortunate that the technology may have been damaged and created the anomaly. That should have been taken into account previous to the reporting of the discovery. It is because of the scientific method that others are now questioning this discovery and the lack of scientific accuracy that others who are looking for fact and not finding it are turning away from science. I think maybe his approach was a bit over the top and aggressive, but his core idea of the scientific community becoming a mix of fact and pseudo fact is accurate in my opinion. Archaeology is an excellent example of this.

I just don't understand how this experiment could lead anyone to dismiss science. Physicists around the world were excited by the research even though they felt a small issue would be found because the methods used were so well designed. Posting on arXiv allows all the possible locations for such a small error to be investigated, so a minuscule possibie problem in cabling may account for the finding. No research can be expected to have that level of engineering details before the results - it's not feasible.

Unfortunately I'm saddened by this response because it demonstrates how the public doesn't understand the self correction that's integral to science. The media plays a role in this with their headline reporting only. If people don't believe in the scientific method and it's self correcting ways throw away your computer, cellphones, GPS, etc. The theories that make those possible required exactly the kind of science this research has provoked. A quick example - Einstein published his theory of relativity long before there was any experimental proof. The first proof from solar eclipse photos was controversial and wasn't believed until repeated. If only research with the level of certainty you ask for can be considered valid Einstein's work would've never been published.

Greg, I agree!

Very well put, Greg!

It is not as black and white as only this situation. Though I agree. People who are not logical are not going to understand logic. 




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