The Standard Model is a quantum field theory...
OK, we have a problem right here at the start. The Standard Model is just that: a model. But we'll let this go, since it's just semantics and such language is common usage.
...in which particles behave as mathematical points...
OK, this one is a bigger problem. What does he mean by point? How are Strings background independent if particles have no meaning independent of classical points? Somehow I don't think Polchinski is thinking of functors between toposes when he uses the word point.
Smolin presents the rise and fall of string theory as a morality play... But this story, however grippingly told, is more a work of drama than of history.
Yes, this is quite true, but it isn't really surprising for a String theorist to think so. And why do they all keep going on about this vacuum energy idea?
The review then moves on to background independence. No wonder these guys can't stop arguing about this. Both sides think their ideas are more background independent than the other. So long as spin foams ignores things like AdS/CFT and T-duality they cannot possibly be talking about gravity, and on the other hand, as mentioned above, particles may be localised but a point is not just some piece of classical moduli. If one is willing to dive head first into Derived Categories it is difficult to understand why this is not understood. Sigh.
New physical theories are often discovered using a mathematical language that is not the most suitable for them.
Hang on a minute! What theory? I don't see any theory. Some nice maths, sure. But when you talk about T-duality there is never any discussion of Machian principles or experimental evidence for them. If I've missed such papers, please direct me to them! Ahh, wait a minute. They call it the Holographic Principle. Nice idea, but we don't actually get any physics from the way it is formulated. Again, if I'm wrong about this, please tell me!
Extending this principle to spaces with the edges free will require a major new insight.
Er, like a new Machian principle maybe? Would it be a problem if we threw out the Stringy particle zoo?
It is possible that the solution to this problem already exists among the alternative approaches that Smolin favors.
Er, well, no. That's not to say that it does not exist. Later on, the review sinks back into a discussion on Dark Energy.