New scientific theories

Published: 2021-06-28 13:25:05
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Scientific peer review is the evaluation of scientific research findings or proposals for competence, significance and originality, by qualified experts who research and submit work for publication in the same field (peers). Most commonly, peer review is used by the editors of scientific journals, who ask well-qualified experts to provide written opinions about research papers that have been submitted for publication. On completing a project or stage of work, researchers write up their results into a paper presenting their experiments, findings and conclusions, and send the paper to a journal to be published.
Scientific papers are sometimes written by individual scientists, but frequently the authors are groups of scientists who have worked as a team on the research. The journal’s editorial staff selects experts in the same field of work who are qualified to judge the scientific merits of the paper – its competence, significance and originality – and who are themselves involved in research and publication and subjected to the same discipline (peers). For some journals the editorial staff is employed by the journal and for others the work is done by professional scientists who act as editors as an additional activity.
The selected experts, known as referees (or reviewers) review the paper and judge such things as whether the design and methodology of the research were appropriate, the data are plausible and the paper is written clearly. The referees are asked whether the paper acknowledges prior work, whether it is suitable for the journal’s scientific readership and whether it should be published in its current form or with revisions. Sometimes peer review is used to decide which papers should be delivered at scientific conferences.
Many funding bodies ask scientific peers to assess whether proposed research is likely to contribute something new and significant, and whether it uses suitable expertise and methods. Peer review helps to keep funding decisions objective. Peer review provides corrective feedback on papers describing research results submitted for publication. This is the process through which research findings become formally public. Why is peer review used? Peer review is an expert advice system to help editors of scientific journals in judging the scientific value and plausibility of research papers they receive, and deciding which should be published.
This helps to make journals a reliable source of new information and discoveries for other scientists to investigate or build on. We can think of peer review as “a form of scientific quality control” or “an error detection system”. But it is a much more critical and dynamic process than many other forms of quality regulation. It is based on using the scientific judgement of other experts who are also trying to advance knowledge in the area as to whether work is competent, significant and original.
Peer review is also used by many other academic journals, for example in the social sciences and humanities, to determine whether work is sufficiently competent, significant and original to merit publication. Publishing requires very specific and substantive feedback about each paper, not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision. Referees might notice mistakes in calculations, or the absence of sufficient safeguards for checking results, for example, or inappropriate statistical tests.
Whether research has been conducted by distinguished scientists in an eminent laboratory or by less established teams, it is subject to this scientific scrutiny. A useful summary of peer review has been provided by a group of social scientists: “Researchers can make mistakes that render their conclusions worthless; and even when they conduct their research properly, they are also all too likely to exaggerate its importance. A review by scientists familiar with the subject matter is likely to detect mistakes and to qualify exaggerated claims.
Thus peer review is important because it helps determine whether a study’s substantive conclusion follows logically from the procedures used to arrive at it and whether the conclusion makes a significant contribution to our knowledge. ” Papers are sent to scientists to review because of their abilities to make a scientific assessment. Without the peer-review system, which research findings come to prominence would be arbitrary. Personal attributes and social influence or power would be more likely to play a role.
Papers would be published regardless of whether experiments are poorly constructed, control groups inaccurately devised or the data insufficient. Every scientist would have to navigate so much unfiltered material that they would have time for little else. Scientists would have no choice but to resolve this arbitrariness because they depend on published results they can trust, in the same way that people on the sixtieth floor depend on the lift working – scientists would reinvent peer review. Why is there sometimes resistance to new theories?
Because some new theories can challenge the conclusions that have been drawn by existing theories, and people can be reluctant to give up the work they’ve put into developing the current theory and explanations. If the new theory is fruitful and successfully predicts and explains the observations better than the old theory, it will ultimately becomes the accepted theory. Science, as a whole, is self-correcting. Source: “Accepted scientific theories and laws become part of our understanding of the universe and the basis for exploring less well-understood areas of knowledge.
Theories are not easily discarded; new discoveries are first assumed to fit into the existing theoretical framework. It is only when, after repeated experimental tests, the new phenomenon cannot be accommodated that scientists seriously question the theory and attempt to modify it. ” There 3 types of resistance to new scientific theories: type 1 — arguments are coming from people outside science and they attack the new theory to protect a conception of the world. For instance Galileo/Copernicus vs Vatican type 2 — arguments are coming from people inside science because the new theory is farfetched or flaky.
For instance the theory that says “we are only using 10% of your brain” type 3 — arguments are coming from people inside science against the new theory because it is the usual process of science: a new theory must be thoroughly discussed and tested. example: quantum mechanics vs Einstein In my opinion: •The theories can fly in the face of what people believe, or what they want to believe. For example, the idea of global warming still faces resistance because it goes against what many people want to believe.
However, many new theories also face resistance from within the scientific community. I would argue that this is largely because new theories necessarily go against old, accepted theories. Many scientists will have based their careers on the old theories and will not want to be told they are wrong. This second point of mine is based on the work of Thomas Kuhn. Because to accept new scientific theories can challenge the traditional interpretation of matters that previously relied on faith and religion for answers, e. g. the Theory of Evolution vs.
Creationism when it was first introduced. Sometimes accepting scientific theories means changing personal behaviours to fit the new scientific model, or involves a significant dollar cost to businesses and individuals, e. g. HIV research, education and funding or global warming and climate change and the development of alternative energies. In addition to the reasons already stated, there is resistance to new scientific theories because the community of scientists rely upon each other to test each other’s theories, methods and even repeatedly tested experiments and their outcomes.
The resistance to a new theory is especially high and scientists will be particularly sceptical if that new theory is purely “theoretical. ” Some scientific theories have developed based on thought experiments and abstract thinking – only indirectly based on recorded observations and past experiments. There are some theories which will remain mostly theoretical because we can’t do certain experiments yet since the technology for conducting those experiments does not yet exist.
For example, there are different theories about what the new Hadron Collider (particle accelerator) will tell us. In quantum physics, the new theory is called “string theory” or “M-theory. ” They both still have “theory” as part of the name because experimentation is still difficult to do. This is all a roundabout way of saying “new theories meet resistance until the community can test those theories with experimentation and offer feedback: and there will be more resistance if it goes against well established theories which were thought to have been absolute and true.
The beauty of scientific theories is that they remain theories until substantiated by facts. At some point, the theory, held together with sustainable facts, becomes fact itself, inasmuch as anyone today can agree on fact. But the reasons for dissension are not scientific; no one in Newton’s day got upset with his Universal Formula for Gravitation; fact supplanted, supplied and expanded the explanations of celestial and terrestrial motion which conjecture had previously held. Theories can be proven or disproven. Facts can only be established.
There are more failed scientific theories than successful ones, but each failure eventually leads to a deeper understanding and ultimately a stronger theory that can transform to fact. Human egos are delicate things. As mentioned, the history of science is full of examples of young upstarts challenging and sometimes prevailing over the august theories of an older generation. People are always more comfortable with what they know. A new scientific theory that opposes conventional wisdom will not be accepted simply because it’s different than what people have always believed.
The truth is that common people don’t understand much science, and distrust it when it is different or doesn’t make sense. The theory of global warming can be demonstrated as fact; the world is heating up; the facts behind the warming cannot, at least currently. That it’s a function wholly of industrialization has not been proven, as it has not accounted for the natural cycles of global heating and cooling. Certainly industrialization may be accelerating the natural process.
Good scientists base conclusions on observable fact and change as new facts dictate; they do not base conclusions on emotions like so politicians pandering for a cause and for votes. Sometimes widely accepted theories are difficult to change, even if there are alternative explanations, due to conservatism. A theory is an attempt to explain a phenomenon in the natural world and has not necessarily been proven. Throughout the years many theories have been proven and disproven. There are always going to be people with different points of views and theories of their own. Scepticism is always going to be there.

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