Since Professor Motl seems to be under some sort of edict or ban of the Church, I have tried to avoid making comments that he might not be allowed to respond to. That doesn't mean he doesn't continue to writing interesting, controversial, and sometimes dubious stuff. A recent post in the first category is this one. It's about George Johnson's talk to the string therorati at KITP and their reactions.
Amanda Peet explained that it had to be obvious that the authors of those books don't apply the same standards to their theories as they use for string theory - and she uses the obvious inconsistencies of loop quantum gravity as an example. George Johnson offered a truly bold hypothesis that "he thinks that no one would call [the author of the blue book] a crackpot". A massive laughter, led by Joe Polchinski et al., explodes in the room, indicating a rather strong disagreement with the journalist. ;-)
I suspect that this argument mainly indicates that Peet has not read either book. Woit hardly mentions LQG, and Smolin, while probably more generous to LQG than ST makes it pretty clear that it is a program yet to make contact with experiment.
Amanda Peet, Mark Srednicki, Gary Horowitz, and others were surprised why it was so difficult for the journalists to figure out that the recent books are nothing like a balanced view on physics but rather extreme screams in the darkness that are not supported by any real science. For example, Mark Srednicki argued that even the journalists should be able to see that someone is manipulating them if he uses the sentence "I can't understand why some people think that my book is anti-string" in the context of a book whose very subtitle links string theory and the "fall of science".
Again, this sounds like the argument of someone who has not read the book TWP. How hard should it be for a brilliant QFT textbook writer like Mark to understand that Smolin is arguing that while ST may be a promising and plausible theory, the totalitarian attitudes so perfectly exemplified by his and his colleagues remarks is hardly good for physics. It should not require heroic intellectual powers to separate string theory from the sociology of the ST community.
David Gross explained why the arguments of the critics are empty. They are either ad hominem attacks or dishonest comments about science or they try to create emotions about actual unanswered questions that are being rationally and legitimately investigated by the scientists right now.
Now that's a dishonest comment! The ad hominem has come from string theorists, not from Smolin or Woit.
He has also re-iterated his opinion that he always believed and he still essentially believes that the right policy is to ignore the weird voices in the jungle ...
A policy that can result in one becoming dinner!
In the last 100 years, no important paradigm shift in physics was started by a book.
I wonder if Lubos is familiar with Weyl's Space, Time, and Matter in which he introduced the gauge theory concept? It's also interesting that Joliet-Curie failed to find the neutron despite having the data in hand because, as Joliet said, it would never occur to a Frenchman to look in a popular book (in this case, Rutherford's) for clues to the understanding of physics.
Aside from that, popular books don't guide physics, but they may guide the public, and the people who make funding and hiring decisions. String theory may have good arguments, but the kind of whining and sarcasm exhibited here won't cut it for much longer.
What I have yet to see from any string theorist is any concrete response tthe central argument: lack of any clear way to make contact with experiment.