I make here publically available my letter to Sabine (Backreaction) concerning ou recent exchange of comments over at her blog. I will not post her letter because it was personally addressed to me. However, since my letter was general enough, and perhaps elucidative enough, here it is.
Thanks for your email. I think that it is quite possible that I have not expressed myself the best possible way. My comments were an attempt at a criticism on the topics based on those that you have mentioned in your post, which I had assumed to be representative of the conference. All I want to say is that I do not care what people want to work on, but I am tired to see professional scientists working on non-scientific issues (viz., those which the scientific method is not applied) as scientific. I consider this very non-ehtical and a dis-service to the public.
Theory must provide a means to experimental verification (in principle, at least), if not, you have an unproven hypothesis. Some people at the frontier of physics are not taking care of this very important concept and elevate their unproven hypotheses to principles of truth, from which they base all their subsequent work. We cannot rely on our subjective judgements to consider some theory acceptable or not: this is why the scientific method exists as a pillar for science.
I think FQXi is perfect as a funding agency for non-mainstream, alternative approaches, which nevertheless are perfectly scientific. Also, philosophical themes (which is a completely different class of discipline, with its own epistemological rules). However, it appears that this question is not clear enough.
I am glad to learn that your work was well received. I hope that you have understood that my criticism was not aimed at your work on phenomenology, which is evidently scientific enough.
EDIT: Sabine writes that “most of them [the projects] eventually won’t lead anywhere – that being the nature of the business”. The problem is not that some projects lead nowhere, but that any non-scientific project leads nowhere by construction. If one’s work is based on an unproven hypothesis which is elevated to a principle of truth, from which all subsequent work is based, then it is highly probable that it will indeed lead nowhere. Or the conclusions will be most probably false.
She also insists that I point to specific projects that I consider non-scientific. As I already emphasized, my comments were based on the themes that she highlighted on her post, not on the program, which was not made avaliable on the FQXi site at the time of the postings. In any case, I leave the excercise to the reader to apply the scientific method and find out the answer by him/herself.
Smolin Against the Timeless Multiverse
What is science for you? Up to 50 words
What is science – for me