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View Full Version : NGC3314, Personalities, science, politics and funding



jlhredshift
2006-Apr-14, 03:27 PM
This time, I didn't see any of the kinds of conflict that suggested that individual personalities played a big role in selecting the science. I could tell stories about other committees elsewhere, though - you'd probably be shocked. Shocked.


I am not sure that I would be shocked but I would be interested in any details.

The history of science is replete with cases of criticism, denial, defunding, death, disagreement, politics, in favor, out of favor, religious vindictiveness, and in general “are you nuts?”

Boltzman’s statistical approach to gases was not accepted immediately.

Harlow Shapley’s wiping of the word “nebulae” from a glass photographic plate.

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for promulgating a geocentric solar system and other things:those in power felt threatened, in 1600.

Galileo for proposing a geocentric system was put under house arrest.

Lyle, Playfair, Hutton; Uniformitarianism versus catastrophism.

Darwin did not expound on his theory until later editions.

When Chandrasekhar immigrated to England and showed his calculations to Eddington showing electron degeneracy during a stellar collapse, Eddington told him to shelve it as being to controversial and unproven. But, when Halton Arp sought to publish a paper that simply correlated statistics of quasars to the planes of galaxies, without drawing a conclusion, Chandrasekhar, as the referee, returned the paper because of not what the paper said, but what might be construed from it.

Copernicus, Newton, and Gell-Mann all deferred publication because their ideas were not mainstream.

Sir Fred Hoyle had many ideas that dramatically diverged from consensus opinion, panspermia, “The Big Bang” versus several versions of “Steady State” cosmologies, impact extinction ice age correlation and others. His genius (carbon resonant calculation) and popularity allowed him to fare fairly well however.

Dr. Louis Frank had a huge uphill battle with Dessler over his theory of small cometary bodies providing water to the Earth in the past and continuing today.

Was it correct for Harlow shapely to use his position to force McMillan publishing to transfer all publishing rights to Velikovsky to Doubleday by not buying textbooks from McMillan and encouraging his academic peers to do the same?

Was it right for Carl Sagan to ambush Velikovsky in 1972 in Seattle during what was supposed to be an “open” academic debate?

The defunding of the Apollo moon missions benefited the Earth, How?

There was a time when no one would consider applying for grant money to work on “String Theory”. Not so today.

How well was Alvarez (father and son) received when their iridium data was published?

Jack Horner’s ideas on warm blooded dinosaurs and birds being reptiles is still being debated; the point being that his recognized prestige maintains his funding.

And there are others of course:
Snowball Earth
That the development of sight was the cause of the Cambrian Explosion
Deep time
Add your thought here?! Etc…….

Change is the only constant in life and its variable, yet we fight it for all the wrong reasons.

dt/dx

From the movie 2010- "Enough of the crazy scientists spending all this money"

peteshimmon
2006-Apr-14, 06:27 PM
Yup! gotta go with the crowd mate! Moooo....
Baaaa..... Fries with that Sir?...

Nereid
2006-Apr-14, 08:33 PM
That scientists are human beings, subject to jealousies, generosities, meanness, magnanimity, tunnel-vision, visions, and so on, is surely no surprise.

Some are thorough, some sloppy; some lazy, some worked themselves to death; some proud and arrogant, some humble; some were rich, some poor; some profited (personally) enormously from their work, some suffered enormously; and so on.

Other than that scientists are not, and have not ever been, perfect/saints/..., how does the history of science differ from the history of any other field of human endeavour?

jlhredshift
2006-Apr-14, 08:44 PM
The point is that the powers that be and we in general oppose new ideas if it threatens the status quo.

Nereid
2006-Apr-14, 09:28 PM
The point is that the powers that be and we in general oppose new ideas if it threatens the status quo.Which is, no doubt, a human condition of great generality (from 'English is in decline', through '{insert your favourite immigrant group here} will steal our jobs!', to 'a woman's place is in the home, preferably barefoot and pregnant', to ...).

I'm curious to know if you think science (which is, of course, nothing more than an integration over the work of all scientists) is - or should - differ from any other aspect of human society. Do you? If so, how (and why)?

Argos
2006-Apr-15, 02:29 PM
I don´t forgive certain human weaknesses in scientists. I think scientists are a special kind of people. They are not allowed to act like footballers, TV stars, or politicians. They should put more effort in overcoming human passions, which hinder the development of science. Nietzsche´s Übermensch comes to my mind.

jlhredshift
2006-Apr-17, 01:01 PM
I'm curious to know if you think science (which is, of course, nothing more than an integration over the work of all scientists) is - or should - differ from any other aspect of human society. Do you? If so, how (and why)?

I think science is another in a long list of things that compete for scarce resources. I believe that science is the hope for the future as it has been in all the past for the betterment of the human condition. A problem can only be solved if you are aware of it and do not hide your head in the sand.

For thirty years I was envolved in a technological competive sport and I found amazing that when we developed new ways of doing things there was always a large segement of the other competitors that would not adopt the new methodology for fear of being ridiculed for not thinking like "everyone else"! Which was OK, because it maintained our edge over them longer.

TheBlackCat
2006-Apr-17, 07:54 PM
The history of science is replete with cases of criticism, denial, defunding, death, disagreement, politics, in favor, out of favor, religious vindictiveness, and in general “are you nuts?”

There are three different things at work here. One is healthy skepticism regarding new ideas. Many scientific hypotheses that later turned out to be true were at first rejected, not so much due to dogmaticism but because there simply wasn't enough evidence supporting the hypothesis yet. That would later change, but all theories start out as hypotheses. Most simply do not have enough evidence at first to warrant widespread acceptance. It is only after a large body of valid evidence has been collected by a variety of unaffiliated researchers or labs that the idea can begin to be accepted. This is a normal and in fact necessary component to the scientific method, ideas are only accepted once they get sufficient support to warrant acceptance.

Another issue is supression by political, social, or religious leaders, or rejection by society as a whole because it does not fit with public opinion. This is not the fault of science, and science cannot be blamed for non-scientists not liking the implications of a discovery.

The final is dogmaticism in science. Sure it exists, although a lot of the examples people seem to bring up actually fall in the latter two categories. Scientists as individuals are human, and although they are, hopefully, trained to avoid that sort of thing they are not perfect. The difference between science and pretty much everything else is that science is self-correcting, although there may be some resistance at first simply due to scientists being human, in the end ideas that are correct are ultimatley accepted and ideas that aren't are ultimately rejected.

What is more, such dogmaticism is not encouraged like in many disciplines, it is actively discouraged and instances of dogmaticism are looked upon poorly by the scientific community and are often the source of quite a bit of embarassment. On the other hand, dogmaticism in politics, religion, art, and pretty much every other human discipline is considered normal, and in fact a lack of dogmaticism is looked upon negatively.

Sammy
2006-Apr-17, 10:51 PM
I don´t forgive certain human weaknesses in scientists. I think scientists are a special kind of people. They are not allowed to act like footballers, TV stars, or politicians. They should put more effort in overcoming human passions, which hinder the development of science. Nietzsche´s Übermensch comes to my mind.

But those weaknesses are what makes us human! Maybe cyberscientists/androids will have no weaknesses, but I doubt it.

Many of us followed avidly the saga of Molly the cat. It's fate mattered very little in the march of human history or the cosmic scheme of things. I consider my self to be a highly rational person, and believe in a scientific/empirical approach to things. But, I would have been out there with a sledge hammer and torn that wall down to the ground to save the cat if I had the chance.

A weakness? Yes, and proud of it!