“There’s a mark born every minute, and one to trim ‘em and one to knock ‘em.” –David W. Maurer, The Big Con (1940)
But how could you tell? There’s lots of amazing science going on out there, and none of us can be experts in it all. Moreover, even when we think we know how things ought to behave, nature has a way of surprising us, and that’s usually via experiment, which is our first indication that our theories are incomplete.
So what do we do when a new experimental result comes out, contradicting our theoretical expectations? The first responsibility we have is to vet the quality of the experiment itself. If we don’t have a quality experiment, we don’t have something worth spending our time and energy on at all.