Who among you allowed me to go without reading Pedantry on at least a quasi-regular basis? I mean, really, what else have you been holding out on?
In any case,Towards a Critical Theory of Physics is kinda tangentially related to the old post-structuralist/physics connection, except it actually has to do with, you know, physics. And contains a sage reminder to anyone interacting with a wannabe grad student:
The ugly truth is that science is full of arguments that were never resolved by falsification, consensus or rational argument. The ultimate decision maker in the hard sciences is graduate students. Arguments are resolved when old physicists die without convincing any grad students to continue to work on their theories. Graduate students in the hard sciences need to understand that their profs need them desperately, because it is only through grad students that their work has a future.
Which sounds nice, but – this grad student wannabe isn’t just after thesis problems of sexy scientific merit. She wants funding, too, in quantities not often doled out by fellow grad students. Which of course is the point: these decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Funding, too, is a social decision, but it’s probably best not to gloss over the role the Old Guard’s purse-strings (not to mention the public’s purse-strings, which moves us briskly out of the purist realm of scientific argument) can play in the establishment of scientific orthodoxy, lest one disrupt the academic hierarchy entirely. Chaos! Would! Ensue!
Note to professors still in need of a new generation of crackpotty standard-bearers: evidence of financial stability will be considered on even standing with evidence of empirical or theoretical soundness, please direct all inquiries to the author.