Every summer CERN runs a summer student programme, designed to bring in a group of students to participate in scientific activities at CERN and provide lectures for them about the basics and latest state of the field of high energy physics. Because of the COVID situation, this summer they have not been able to bring students in, but are providing instructional lectures and Q and A’s. This year’s sessions are based on having students follow materials from last year’s lectures, followed by a Q and A to answer their questions.
One of the topics the students are presented is What is String Theory?, and you can watch the 2019 video or look at the slides. Timo Weigand’s presentation can be accurately described as pure, unadulterated hype, with not a hint of the existence of any significant problem with ideas presented. In the Q and A yesterday, Weigand did come up with a new piece of “evidence for string theory”: it “predicts” no continuous spin representations.
I can’t begin to understand why anyone thinks it’s all right for CERN to subject impressionable students to this kind of thing. Someone, not me, should be complaining to the organizers and to CERN management.
This is unfortunately now an all too common example of what passes for “Sci Comm” in much of the field of fundamental physics: endless repetition of old discredited arguments in favor of a failed theory, coupled with pretending not to know about what is wrong with these arguments. The field that was once one of the greatest examples of the power of the human mind and the strength of the scientific method has become something very different and quite dangerous: all-too-visible ammunition for those who want to make the case that scientists are as deluded and tribalistic as anyone else, so not to be trusted.