Science is a self-correcting enterprise. Everyone involved is trying to dethrone the current “pope” in one scientific discipline of another.
Three of the most central dogmas in modern science are Darwin’s principals of natural selection that drives all of biological evolution; Wagner’s deciphering the geological mechanisms of continental drift; and Einstein’s mathematical formula, E=MC2, that defined the nature of matter and energy in the universe. New data is always being put forth to challenge these central dogmas but these fundamental natural principals have stood the rigor of time and testing and remain the basis of biology, geology, and physics.
The latest example of these challenges was the reported measurements of neutrinos---those itsy bits of matter that can pass through a planet and never interact with another particle---that might actually have been able to move at faster than the speed-of-light, or 186,000 miles per second, the key element of Einstein’s formula. If true, the basis of physics and the history of the universe would need to be revised.
A claim as momentous as altering Einstein’s Theory of Relativity naturally required multiple labs to perform new tests of the putative neutrino results. The reported results turned out to be incorrect and the head of the reporting research team resigned as a result.
A “pope” was deposed by new data, Einstein’s principal of physic remains solidly in place, and science benefited from the rigor of the scientific review process. Too bad this collaborative approach isn’t applied in other areas of social endeavor.