Is It Time to Embrace Unverified Theories? – Facts So Romantic

In the world of modern physics, there is change afoot. Researchers are striving so hard to leap beyond the mostly settled science of the Standard Model that they’re daring to break from one of science’s crucial traditions. In pursuit of a definitive, unifying description of reality, some scientists are arguing that scientific theories may not require experimental proof to be accepted as truth.

The philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as inherently empirical, founded on observation, goes back centuries. And in the 20th century, Karl Popper, one of the few philosophers regarded as a hero among scientists, moved the paradigm one step further. He argued that a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific. So a scientist not only has to be able to support a theory with evidence; she also has to be able to show that there could be evidence that would prove it wrong.

Any movement that deviates from this tradition alarms most scientists. And now that alarm is spilling into the pages of prominent journals.

“[Last year], debates in physics circles took a worrying turn,” physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk wrote in an essay in Nature. “Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories…

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