Democracy vs. Meritocracy: How science doesn ‘t care about your vote
Ethan Siegel

But surely there’s another sort-of type of ‘democracy’ in science: you persuade other scientists with your evidence. For every bolt-from-the-blue single brilliant discovery that overturns established ideas or settles once-and-for-all a contentious debate, there’s the slow amassing of evidence and decades-long tweaking of theories, and slow build of scientific consensus through publishing, letter-writing, and seminars.

A theory can be ‘right’, in that it explains nature in a more accurate way than other theories, but if it’s not accepted by the relevant scientific community, the only way we know it’s right is from hindsight. I bet there are right now theories that exist in scientific fields that are ‘right’, but not accepted by the vast bulk of the scientific community in that field. Science works in such a way that eventually we know those ‘right’ theories will come to be accepted, but it cannot predict when that event will happen.

Look at quantum gravity. Which theory is right? String theory? Quantum loop theory? Neither? We lack the hindsight to know (if we did not, we would already know!). So the process of science rolls on.

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