The popularity of plate tectonics arises from its seeming to explain major features of the ocean floor, but popularity is not a measure of scientific correctness. Science is a logical process, not a democratic process.
As to why theories perpetuate is described later.
There is something fundamentally wrong with an institution accepting taxpayer money to conduct scientific research and at the same time allowing its faculty/employees to suppress advances in science with phony-baloney, made in secret reviews . But that is an every-day occurrence in American universities…Real scientists appreciate advances in science, as advances generally open the door to new discoveries. Science is about truth, not suppression, not misrepresentation, not to the scientific community and not to the general public.
h/t Malaga Bay