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The One Theory Fallacy

Most people will agree that there can only be one reality. There can only be one explanation to the physical world as we know it. Even if we believe in multiple realities, there has to be a single explanation to tie it all together.

Where things go wrong

There is no reason to object to this position. However, things go wrong when this intuitive truth is used as an argument for focusing all attention around a single theory.

The idea that we must all work within a set framework of ideas in order to make progress is destructive, and the reason theoretical physics is struggling to make progress.

In an eagerness to get to the truth, premature decisions have been made. Scientists have settled on a number of ideas from which any dissent is seen as counterproductive, or even treasonous.

The idea behind this attitude is that things have by now been pretty much completely figured out. All that remains is a bit of tweaking here and there, and the job can be signed off as completed.

But no-one with a creative streak will be attracted to a field in which only a few problems remain. Creative minds keep away from theoretical physics, and the result is stagnation.


To reignite the creative flame, we need to encourage creativity.

Any theory that explains observed facts should be met with curiosity. This may divert some energy away from other work, but it will have the benefit of sparking the imagination of creative minds.

The Inquisition, no room for dissent

By Dr. Nuno Carvalho de Sousa Private Collections – Lisbon, Public Domain,

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