The mainstream media has framed the story as the downfall of "Einstein's most trusted theories," a violation of a "cardinal rule of physics" and the like. I suspect some outlets have trained cameras on the 13th floor of science buildings, waiting to capture images of scientists throwing themselves to their deaths over the news.
Physicist had it wrong all this time. How could they lie to us like that? Is ∑F=ma true, or just another lie coming from Big Physics?
It's mostly nonsense, of course. But apparently it's the only way you can run a story about physics research in the mainstream media.
One might reasonably wonder who's behind this physics-shattering research. Is it those pesky chemists with their "central science" braggadocio? Or wore yet: reality-denying economists? Of course not. It's physicists. And they're doing science. And if the science they do leads to a model better than the one we use now, then... well, that's how science works. Just as it did when evolutionists destroyed Piltdown Man. (Creationists could never have destroyed Piltdown Man because they are unfamiliar with the methods of science.)
There are no cardinal rules in science. No immutable laws etched into the stone permanence. There is a process for tentative acceptance or rejection: the process of science. (Not the "scientific method" cleanly described the first chapter of pre-college science textbooks, mind you. That's an unrealistic and simplified distillation not actually practiced by scientists.)
May people think there are laws in science. Permanent, perfect, and absolute truths that explain a whole set of observations. I was recently scolded for this notion by a commenter on a right-wing blog who educated me on the fact that Newtonian Gravity had achieved "law" status, by someone who was clearly not familiar with General Relativity.
We do a disservice to the essence of science when we invoke the term "law." No principle in science is safe from attack, dismemberment, and replacement. And we like it that way. We work to produce the best model we can. But nothing is considered permanent.
If Special Relativity must be discarded into the dustbin of science, it can keep company with the luminiferous aether, phlogiston, and so on. And science will rejoice and be happy in it.
Then again. and I hate to even mention this while the big media ballyhoo still lingers in the air, it might be there was an error somewhere in the faster-than-light neutrino study. If that turns out to be the case, don't look for article in the mainstream media detailing where the research went wrong. There's no sexy there. No collapsing pillars of science imagery to evoke. And how many column-inches is anyone going to devote to "oops" or "never mind"?
As ever, xkcd sums it up nicely (click to embiggen):
Hat tip to Bernard Cleyet.