Science is a meritocracy where answers are determined by objective criteria, and for most of the difficult questions, only one or a few people know the right answer and the scientific method exists to isolate this special right answer…
Of course, I subscribe this that is widely known to people doing research. I would just change the word “meritocracy” by “dictatorship of truth”. But there is an intermediate age where the truth takes time to become acclaimed and this is time for opinions and before to become aware of the people that firstly reached the goal, there is a struggle for the truth to be acquired. I would like to remember here the status of quantum field theory in the sixties when bootstrap and similar failures appeared as a paradigm and very few brave people were doing research in the right directions taking us to the triumph of today. In this kind of dynamics, at a first stage it is very difficult to be able to tell, also for very well trained people, where the right track is lying. In physics our luck resides in experiments. This makes things simpler when technology helps us to perform them otherwise time to decide for the best are increasingly longer. So, merit as claimed by Lubos is something that sets in at the very end of the process.
In my specific field of activity, QCD, we are in a better situation as a lot of laboratories around the World have facilities to perform important measurements to reach the goal. And this situation is even better as we can use powerful computers to solve the theory. My view as a physicist is that, without a sound comparison of the spectrum of the theory with experiments, nobody can claim to have properly solved the mass gap problem. All my present effort is going into this direction because there is nothing more exciting than having hit the right behavior of Nature (our mother not the bitch…). I take this chance to remember here the effort in this direction of Silvio Sorella, that with the help of other fine colleagues, is going to show how his approach indeed fulfill these expectations of glueball masses (see here). These authors give a correct idea about what is the right approach to be followed for the problem of low-energy QCD.
Finally, I would like to emphasize the relevance of sites like the one pointed out by Lubos. This site has also been posted by Sean Carroll (see here) in his blog. I have pointers to my blog there and in the more successful Mathoverflow. Unfortunately, I have no much time to spend on contributing to these sites but these are very good places to know about science and the right one. So, this is also my invitation for my readers to contribute to them actively.
D. Dudal, M. S. Guimaraes, & S. P. Sorella (2010). Glueball masses from an infrared moment problem and nonperturbative
Landau gauge arxiv arXiv: 1010.3638v3