Colin Stuart wrote the following article for Physics World yesterday:
The Physics World article seems to be mostly based on the following preprint
In the wake of the null results from the LHC and other experiments, my estimated probability that SUSY will be discovered before 2015 dropped below 50 percent for the first time. Note that my SUSY bet against Jester of Resonaances was rather cautious: not only I will only lose $100 if I am wrong – and he will lose $10,000 if he is wrong – but the decision will only be made when 30 inverse femtobarns of the LHC data are evaluated which can't happen before 2015. ;-)
The Physics World article is nice and fair and it obviously doesn't deserve the hostile reaction in the comments – with lots of anti-physics comments and links to crackpot websites. On the other hand, it's a nearly inevitable consequence of the years of anti-stringy, anti-supersymmetric brainwashing in the popular science media.
But let me admit that I am confused by certain aspects of this article in the Physics World, too. To be honest, I don't quite understand why this particular paper was chosen as the inspiration for a rare article in the Physics World. Every day, about 20 new hep-ph papers are announced on arXiv.org. That's about 400 per month or 5,000 per year. They're about similar topics and their importance is comparable, too. How did the paper above penetrate to Physics World if almost all other 5,000 papers remained obscure?
Well, the answer is probably that Dr Mazumdar befriended Mr Stuart and told him some interesting things that Mr Stuart promoted. Let's avoid official accusations, speculations, and demonization of similar links. Instead, let me mention that it may be a good idea to establish a semi-official protocol for the science journalists that would allow them to pick articles that are sufficiently likely to be right as well as interesting enough.
One could optimize an algorithm for the top researchers to tell the journalists about \(N\) developments or papers that they consider interesting. Or the top researchers could tell the journalist to ask someone else – for example the top researchers' protégés. One could even try to quantify some "media capital" that would be earned by published papers and/or citations and that could be spent by directing the journalists in the directions that the researchers consider relevant, probably right, and interesting.
I am not suggesting that there exists a perfect, mechanical algorithm of this sort. But I am suggesting that the current regime that decides what theoretical work makes it to the popular science media is chaotic, driven largely by irrational prejudices, and generally defunct.
Incidentally, there are some not quite unrelated news that according to some research, the size matters, after all. Interestingly enough, most male science journalists present this good news as "bad news". Describe and discuss what it may mean. ;-)