“The start of the LHC 2012 physics run is still a while off, scheduled for around the beginning of April, with beam energy likely raised a bit, to 8 TeV total in the center of mass. So, it’s going to be quite a few more months before the LHC experiments have enough new data to analyze that will allow a conclusive determination of whether the evidence seen for a Higgs around 125 GeV is confirmed, with a significance high enough to claim discovery. … the best fit size of the bump is, as with ATLAS, about twice what the SM predicts. The errors are large, so quite possibly both experiments just got a bit lucky, in which case the first few months of 2012 data may not quickly add much to the significance of the signal.” – Dr Peter Woit
The Chi-squared test for the “Higgs boson” has two “possibilities”: either it doesn’t exist, or it does exist and is the particle in the mainstream electroweak theory. This is fraud. It’s precisely Joesph Priestley’s error in his phlogiston experiment: either phlogiston exists, or it doesn’t. There was a third possibility: oxygen exists, replacing phlogiston theory. This was recognised by Lavoisier. You need to take account of alternative theories to the Higgs mechanism and the standard electroweak theory, before you can claim that the spin-0 boson (if it exists) is the one you are actually looking for. Otherwise, it’s like interpreting the “motion of the sun” across the sky as clear evidence that the sun orbits the earth daily.
The Standard Model doesn’t predict, prima facie, a Higgs boson mass, but given an experimentally determined mass, the Standard Model with Higgs mechanism does constrain the amplitude of the Higgs signal (the cross-section for the Higgs boson production reactions). Woit points out that the observed amplitude is greater than predicted, for the apparently observed mass. As we explained earlier, Karl Popper’s falsifiable prediction methodology is not science: you make a prediction, the experiment confirms the prediction, and then you use this as a Stalinist propaganda to claim that the experiment has confirmed the theory. (Hoping nobody notices the subtle conflation of prediction with theory.) Example: Ptolemy’s epicycle theory could “predict” planetary positions using a complex metaphysics. Many of the predictions worked well enough within the accuracy of early observations, so there was no need for Kepler’s more accurate elliptical laws of planetary motion until after Brahe had made more accurate observations. If you claim to set out to “test” Ptolemy’s epicycles theory, using a statistical correlation test where there are only two possible outcomes (Ptolemy’s predictions are true, or the data are random as the null hypothesis), with no proper analysis of alternative models allowed, then the statistical correlation test will “confirm” the flawed model statistically over no correlation.
Statistical correlation tests are the most easily corrupted form of science, and this is rife: you test for “correlation” between one model and the experimental data, given a null (default) hypothesis that the “correlation” is just random coincidence. The flaw here is that the “evidence” you gain from a successful correlation test only tells you that the model accords with the data better than random noise. It doesn’t tell you anything about the problem that another theory may also agree, e.g. FitzGerald’s, Lorentz’s, Poincare’s and Larmor’s equations match Einstein’s special relativity’s transformation and E = mc2 law, so “experimental tests” of these equations doesn’t specifically support Einstein’s theory over the more mechanical derivations of the same equations by the earlier investigators. It’s also been shown that the confirmed predictions of general relativity come from energy conservation and are not specific confirmation of the geometric space-time continuum model. Therefore, it is Popperian sophistry to claim that a specific theory is “confirmed” by experiments merely when its predictions are confirmed, unless you have somehow disproved the possibility of any other theory predicting the same results by a different route. Politically, this sophistry gives rise to the “historical accident syndrome” whereby the first theory which gives the correct prediction in a politically-correct, fashionable manner, is hyped by the popular media as having been “confirmed” by experiment, when in fact only the predictions (which are also given by totally different theoretical frameworks sharing the same mathematical duality in the limits of the experimental regime) are confirmed. This is fascist hubris. We saw it with the earth-centred universe of Ptolemy. Once you have a fashionable model, it gets into the educational textbooks, it is “understood” by the popular media, and any alternative framework is wrongly dismissed as superfluous, unnecessary, boring, etc., without first being properly investigated to see if it fits more data more accurately.
It’s important to note that this is a general problem in politics and human endeavour generally. The advice is to keep to well-worn paths or you will get lost. However, you’re unlikely to find much on well-worn paths, because so many people keep to them, and the probability of finding anything on them is therefore low. Ironically, this point is “controversial” because you get the counter-argument that you’re unlikely to find anything if you go off the beaten track. More to the point, if you do find anything off the beaten track, you still have a difficulty in convincing anybody that it actually exists, as Niccolò Machiavelli explains in the political context (The Prince, Chapter VI): “the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.”
It’s quite correct that that a lukewarm argument on a radical and unpopular proposal leads either nowhere or to failure (suppression). You cannot easily overthrow a tyrant with kindly, gentle words alone. By the time a tyrant is susceptible to arguments (in dementia), it is easier to overthrow the regime by other means anyway. Diplomacy is the policy of feeding wolves in the expectation of achieving peace through appeasement. Groupthink is never revolutionary: it is always counter-revolutionary, developing political structures to stabilize a success by preventing a further revolution. New ideas are only welcome within the narrow confines of an existing theory, like epicycles.
Janis, civil defense research psychologist and author of Psychological Stress (Wiley, N.Y., 1958), Stress and Frustration (Harcourt Brace, N.Y., 1971), and Air War and Emotional Stress (RAND Corporation/McGraw-Hill, N.Y., 1951), begins Victims of Groupthink with a study of classic errors by “groupthink” advisers to four American presidents (page iv):
“Franklin D. Roosevelt (failure to be prepared for the attack on Pearl Harbor), Harry S. Truman (the invasion of North Korea), John F. Kennedy (the Bay of Pigs invasion), and Lyndon B. Johnson (escalation of the Vietnam War) … in each instance, the members of the policy-making group made incredibly gross miscalculations about both the practical and moral consequences of their decisions.”
Joseph de Rivera’s The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy showed how a critic of Korean War tactics was excluded from the advisory group, to maintain a complete consensus for President Truman. Schlesinger’s A Thousand Days shows how President Kennedy was misled by a group of advisers on the decision to land 1,400 Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs to try to overthrow Castro’s 200,000 troops, a 1:143 ratio. Janis writes in Victims of Groupthink:
“I use the term “groupthink” … when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”(p. 9)
“… the group’s discussions are limited … without a survey of the full range of alternatives.”(p. 10)
“The objective assessment of relevant information and the rethinking necessary for developing more differentiated concepts can emerge only out of the crucible of heated debate [to overcome inert prejudice/status quo], which is anathema to the members of a concurrence-seeking group.”(p.61)
“One rationalization, accepted by the Navy right up to December 7 , was that the Japanese would never dare attempt a full-scale assault against Hawaii because they would realize that it would precipitate an all-out war, which the United States would surely win. It was utterly inconceivable … But … the United States had imposed a strangling blockade … Japan was getting ready to take some drastic military counteraction to nullify the blockade.”(p.87)
“… in 1914 the French military high command ignored repeated warnings that Germany had adopted the Schlieffen Plan, which called for a rapid assault through Belgium … their illusions were shattered when the Germans broke through France’s weakly fortified Belgian frontier in the first few weeks of the war and approached the gates of Paris. … the origins of World War II … Neville Chamberlain’s … inner circle of close associates … urged him to give in to Hitler’s demands … in exchange for nothing more than promises that he would make no further demands”(pp.185-6)
“Eight main symptoms run through the case studies of historic fiascoes … an illusion of invulnerability … collective efforts to … discount warnings … an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality … stereotyped views of enemy leaders … dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members … self-censorship of … doubts and counterarguments … a shared illusion of unanimity … (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent)… the emergence of … members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.”(pp.197-8)
“… other members are not exposed to information that might challenge their self-confidence.”(p.206)