Contra a maré - livro crítico sobre como a Física e a Astronomia são feitas

quinta-feira, setembro 14, 2017

Against the tide - A Critical Review by Scientists of How Physics and Astronomy Get Done

Martín López Corredoira & Carlos Castro Perelman (Eds.) 


Nobody should have a monopoly of the truth in this universe. The censorship and suppression of challenging ideas against the tide of mainstream research, the blacklisting of scientists, for instance, is neither the best way to do and filter science, nor to promote progress in the human knowledge. The removal of good and novel ideas from the scientific stage is very detrimental to the pursuit of the truth. There are instances in which a mere unqualified belief can occasionally be converted into a generally accepted scientific theory through the screening action of refereed literature and meetings planned by the scientific organizing committees and through the distribution of funds controlled by "club opinions". It leads to unitary paradigms and unitary thinking not necessarily associated to the unique truth. This is the topic of this book: to critically analyze the problems of the official (and sometimes illicit) mechanisms under which current science (physics and astronomy in particular) is being administered and filtered today, along with the onerous consequences these mechanisms have on all of us.

Apart from the editors, Juan Miguel Campanario, Brian Martin, Wolfgang Kundt, J. Marvin Herndon, Marian Apostol, Halton C. Arp, Tom Van Flandern, Andrei P. Kirilyuk, Dmitri Rabounski and Henry H. Bauer, all of them professional researchers, reveal a pessimistic view of the miseries of the actual system, while a glimmer of hope remains in the "leitmotiv" claim towards the freedom in doing research and attaining an acceptable level of ethics in science.

About The Author


Martín López Corredoira is a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Tenerife, Spain). He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of La Laguna at Tenerife and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Seville (Spain). He has authored articles in peer reviewed journals of astrophysics, and two books on philosophy in Spanish: Diálogos entre Razón y Sentimiento and Somos Fragmentos de Naturaleza Arrastrados por Sus Leyes.

Carlos Castro Perelman is a researcher affiliated with the Center for Theoretical Studies of Physical Systems at Clark Atlanta University (USA). He has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of over 115 articles on such topics as: the extended relativity theory in Clifford spaces, gravity, supersymmetry, strings, p-branes, fractals, quantum field theory, mathematical physics, number theory


by Martín López Corredoira and Carlos Castro Perelman

It is always necessary to take a critical look at the way in which scientific research actually gets done. While Philosophy and Sociology have long established themselves as full-blown academic disciplines with an ever-increasing literature, there is a dearth of such literature written by practising scientists. The aim of this book is to gather the views of some working physicists and astronomers on the influence of the social structures of science within which scientists are obliged to carry out their research, and examine the ways in which they are sometimes used in negative ways to destroy careers and hinder innovative research. At the present time there are no widely known academic outlets where scientists can express their opinions about the scientific establishment. Not so long ago there were astronomical journals where one could raise these issues but these journals have either ceased to exist or have been revamped into pure research journals. Physicists have no outlet for expressing their views—especially unorthodox views—on the nature of the scientific method and/or social structures affecting their research because journals for physicists are solely dedicated to research. This book aims to fill this current gap in the literature with a sample of critical papers.

The essay “Challenging dominant physics paradigms” by Campanario and Martin is a general analysis of the difficulties found by well-qualified scientists to challenge scientific orthodoxy. Particular cases of dissidence are reflected in the autobiographical odysseys narrated by Kundt, Arp or Castro Perelman. Castro Perelman tells us about the illicit, shameful censorship and blacklisting of scientists taking place in the electronic e-archives web-site <> and which is the most important internet site for preprints in Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics. Scientific and political elites in Western democracies control the system, according to Arp. Anonymity in the peer-review system is susceptible of corruption—says Marvin Herndon—and interferes with the objective examination of extraordinary ideas on their merits—says Van Flandern. These problems of science are worldwide and present in rich countries like the United States, as pointed out by Marvin Herndon, as well as in developing countries. Apostol talks about the corruption, decadence and mafias in Romania hidden behind the use of politically correct terms: “technological transfer”, “international cooperation”, “scientometrics”, etc. Like the example of Romania, many other countries have similar problems. The same problems in Physics and Astronomy are widespread in all fields of science and in all areas of research performed by humans. One representative of the text outside the fields of Physics and Astronomy is the essay by Bauer, where a critical study of analytical chemistry and the conflict of interests in science is presented. We considered it interesting because the context of his essay is applicable to all the sciences in general. The situation in Astrophysics is widely described in López Corredoira’s essay on the oldest profession. Kundt tackles some aspects of astrophysics too, Arp focuses in the research of cosmology, and Van Flandern’s article focuses on the solar system. 

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