Back in April a paper appeared on the arXiv from string theorist Jacques Distler and collaborators that made a rather outrageously overhyped claim to have found a way to “falsify string theory”. The paper was entitled Falsifying String Theory Through WW Scattering, and was discussed extensively here. After the Wall Street Journal published an article in June about the problems of string theory, Distler wrote them to complain that the article was incorrect, because he and his collaborators had shown that string theory was falsifiable.
I had heard that this paper was going to be refereed, and was wondering whether a referee would really let the authors get away with the outrageous claim of their title. Well, it appears that the answer is no. A new version of the paper is now on the arXiv, with a new title: Falsifying Models of New Physics via WW Scattering. The abstract, which originally claimed that violations of the bounds they described “would falsify string theory” has now been modified to no longer make this claim; the new language is “would falsify generic models of string theory”.
The paper has acquired a new co-author and been extensively rewritten. I’m assuming many of the changes were made to satisfy a referee. Besides changing the misleading, overhyped title, criticisms of earlier work embedded in one reference have been removed, and nine new references to earlier work have been added.