Archive for July, 2008
25 Jul 2008
Professor Aardvark has a theory. His theory predicts X. So he does some experiments and presents a tentative scientific result, suggesting that X might be true.
Dr Bloggs decides to investigate it. Here's Bloggs's research diary:
- First preliminary results (finally!): disagreement with Aardvark's results, but it's probably something I've done wrong.
- New method of analysing the data. Now my results (finally!) agree with Aardvark's. Still a few issues that need addressing though...
- No progress with the outstanding issues. Getting really bored of this project!
- Paper written:
Aardvark found X. Our results, although tentative, appear to agree with their findings.
Dr Clot-Head investigates the same question and publishes the following:
Aardvark and Bloggs have shown that X is true. Our results agree with their analysis, although we haven't taken Y and Z into account, so our findings are only tentative.
Dr Dummy joins the bandwagon:
Various authors have found X (Aardvark, Bloggs, Clot-Head). Our findings, although tentative, agree with the general consensus.
Actually, X is not true and Professor Aardvark's theory is wrong. However, due to the complexity of the issue, the lack of any credible alternative theory and constraints on the researchers' time, X soon becomes part of common knowledge. Everyone knows X is true!
My question: does this actually happen in astronomy?