Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University, wrote a book on the physics of how "something can come from nothing," and thought it answered the old philosophical question to that effect. He got lots of praise from other philosophical ignoramuses, and then along came David Albert, a distinguished philosopher of physics at Columbia University (who even has a PhD in physics), who pointed out the confusions in a rather wicked, but as far as I can see apt, review in The New York Times. Krauss, apparently not used to be called out for his intellectual limitations, had a tantrum and called Albert "moronic," which would be fine if Krauss were right and Albert wrong, but, alas, that wasn't the case. (The interviewer at The Atlantic is able to expose Krauss's cluelessness--witness the exchange about Russell!) Various philosophers responded effectively to the tantrum (for example), and apparently Dan Dennett, an atheist fellow traveller with Krauss, prevailed on him to recant, which he largely did. One physics blogger has a useful summary of the whole affair. (Thanks to Laurie Paul and Damian Veal for the various links.)
This is not the first time physicists have revealed themselves to be (dare I say it?) a bit "moronic" when it comes to philosophy. I was first struck by this during my years at UT Austin, when reading Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Laureate no less, whose hardcore realism about physics would go hand-in-hand with his admission that physicists preferred theories with aesthetic virtues, like beauty, without even any inkling that this might pose a puzzle. More recently, of course, there was Stephen Hawking's odd intervention into the question of God's existence. (I usually assume everyone, at least in private, knows that gods don't exist, but surely those who don't aren't going to be helped by Hawking's intervention.) Of course, it was not always so with physicists, but the current generation (at least those who try to speak to the broader public) does seem remarkably inept in logical and rational thought, and unembarrassed to display that to the world. Which raises the question: why? My best guess is that the culture so celebrates physics, that physicists have come to believe the "PR" about them. Very good physicists tend to be very good at physics, and I, at least, am inclined to the view that if you want to know what really exists, it's better to ask a scientist than a philosopher. But it's not obvious that even talented physicsts are very smart about other matters, such as those that require conceptual clarity, subtle distinctions, reflectiveness about presuppositions, and the appreciation of logical and inferential entailments of particular propositions. More than anything, I hope Krauss's tantrum and its aftermath will help disabuse the culture of the myth that being good at physics means being good at thought.
ADDENDUM: Here's Alva Noe (Berkeley) on Hawking's mess.
ANOTHER: More discussion here, including comments by Albert and by Barry Loewer (Rutgers). Albert points out that Krauss even made mistakes about the physics in the book!