One of our great laments is that science writers tend to be unable to properly convey scientific ideas to a lay audience. Some of this can be blamed on a liberal arts education based in the historic Greek emphasis on competence in the trivium (language) and quadrivium (science and music). In modern practice this divides the educational tracks of students, generally producing persons better at one than the other. As our system moves education into a very specific concentration in graduate school, these differences become more pronounced. Writers, the people who are trained to explain concepts via the written word, often have little knowledge of science and scientists often have little training in the use of language. This division greatly influences our view of Not Even Wrong, whereas other reviewers have focused mainly on scientific arguments.
At the outset we are in complete agreement with Dr. Peter Woit, lecturer in Mathematics at Columbia University and author of Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory & The Continuing Challenge to Unify the laws Of Physics. As educated laymen in physics, we feel there is something at the least fishy about string theory. Not Even Wrong could go a long way towards explaining the failures of string theory for the general public and physicists if it did not try to simultaneously satisfy both.
Not Even Wrong is at least terribly confusing to readers with only a basic education in physics. While the argument presented in the book is, to our eyes, internally logically sound, it is very difficult to discern because of Woit’s insistence on writing for a diverse audience and his often confusing writing style. Dr. Woit is attempting to reach his colleagues in mathematics and physics whilst simultaneously disabusing the general, interested reader of misconceptions given to her by popularizing physicists over the course of the last twenty years. We do not believe he accomplishes the latter, and are unsure if the message of his book has effectively reached the former.