Not surprisingly, newly published discovery claims and credible discoveries that appear to be important and convincing will always be open to challenge and potential modification or refutation by future researchers.
In the end, credibility "happens" to a discovery claim — a process that corresponds to what philosopher Annette Baier has described as the commons of the mind.
This is the credibility process, through which the individual researcher's me, here, now becomes the community's anyone, anywhere, anytime.
In the idealized version of how science is done, facts about the world are waiting to be observed and collected by objective researchers who use the scientific method to carry out their work.
Reform has been vigorously opposed, perhaps most egregiously in education, where charter schools, academies and merit pay all faced drawn-out battles.
Even though there is plenty of evidence that the quality of the teachers is the most important variable, teachers' unions have fought against getting rid of bad ones and promoting good ones.
The teachers' unions keep an eye on schools, the CCPOA on prisons and a variety of labor groups on health care.
Bankers' fat pay packets have attracted much criticism, but a public-sector system that does not reward high achievers may be a much bigger problem for America.
Politicians have repeatedly "backloaded" public-sector pay deals, keeping the pay increases modest but adding to holidays and especially pensions that are already generous.
John Donahue at Harvard's Kennedy School points out that the norms of culture in Western civil services suit those who want to stay put but is bad for high achievers.
When Hoffa's Teamsters were in their prime in 1960, only one in ten American government workers belonged to a union; now 36% do.
They fear that it hurts their economies, depriving them of much-needed skilled workers who could have taught at their universities, worked in their hospitals and come up with clever new products for their factories to make.
These are the kind of workers that countries like Britain, Canada and Australia try to attract by using immigration rules that privilege college graduates.
For: "Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past."
When people in developing countries worry about migration, they are usually concerned at the prospect of the best and brightest departure to Silicon Valley or to hospitals and universities in the developed world.
To Egypt, France, and a dozen more countries, G.I. Joe was any American soldier, at that point the most important person in their lives.
To the men and women who served in World War II and the people they liberated, the G.I. was the common man grown into hero, the poor farm kid torn away from his home, the guy who bore all the burdens of battle, who slept in cold foxholes, who went without the necessities of food and shelter, who stuck it out and drove back the Nazi reign of murder.
Millions of Americans and foreigners see G.I. Joe as a mindless war toy, the symbol of American military adventurism, but that's not how it used to be.
Pyle was famous for covering the human side of the war, writing about the dirt-snow-and-mud soldiers, not how many miles were gained or what towns were captured or liberated.
Both men emphasized the dirt and exhaustion of war, the fragments of civilization that the soldiers shared with each other and the civilians: coffee, tobacco, whiskey, shelter, sleep.
This was not a volunteer soldier, not someone well paid, but an average guy, up against the best trained, best equipped, fiercest, most brutal enemies seen in centuries.
He appears as a character, or a collection of American personalities, in the 1945 movie The Story of G.I. Joe, based on the last days of war correspondent Ernie Pyle.
This could be no more than a passing literary craze, but it also points to a broader truth about how we now approach the past: less concerned with learning from forefathers and more interested in feeling their pain.
"Universal history, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here," wrote the Victorian sage Thomas Carlyle.
"The valuable examples which they furnish of the power of self-help, of patient purpose, resolute working and steadfast integrity, issuing in the formation of truly noble and manly character, exhibit," wrote Smiles, "what it is in the power of each to accomplish for himself."
These epochal figures represented lives hard to imitate, but to be acknowledged as possessing higher authority than mere mortals.
As such, it needed to appreciate the economic realities, the social contexts and power relations in which each epoch stood.
Yet, in several instances, justices acted in ways that weakened the court's reputation for being independent and impartial.
They gave justices permanent positions so they would be free to upset those in power and have no need to cultivate political support.
This and other similar cases raise the question of whether there is still a line between the court and politics.