There’s a new philosophy of science book out, Richard Dawid’s String Theory and the Scientific MethodThe book seems to be an elaboration of these papers, downloadable for free: Underdetermination and Theory Succession from the Perspective of String Theory, On the conflicting assessments of the current status of string theory, and Realism in the age of string theory.
The argument is that a lot of big-shots work on string theory, so it must be science. The theory is unique because it claims to explain everything, while actually explaining nothing. Since the theory cannot be tested, we have to accept new definitions of science and realism. Some really smart people have opinions about what is aesthetically pleasing, and that can substitute for experiment.
Yes, that's it. He is trying to promote string theory, but his empty argument show that the theory is a failure by any objective standard.
The three reasons behind the near-certainty about the theory's validity are:So if these super-smart guy had a mystical belief in unicorns or astrology, and string theory were perceived as better than the alternatives for the purpose, then they study string theory. The problem with this argument is that there is no good reason to believe in unified field theory, and no good reason for believing that string theory would be progress towards that end.
the non-existence of alternatives ...
Concerning the first argument, it is the actual explanation why the top bright theoretical physicists focus this high percentage of their intellectual skills on string theory. They simply divide their mental powers to all promising ideas, with the weight given by the degree to which they are promising. Because one may approximately say that there aren't any other promising "big ideas" outside string theory, people can't work on them.