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Re: Re: Re: Re: In praise of curiosity

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Aug 01, 2003 at 03:25 UTC ( #279876=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Re: Re: In praise of curiosity
in thread In praise of curiosity

My apologies for entering late, but I would like to point out that the kind of resistance that you are talking about is the kind talked about in Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts.

Given that the resistance in question is part of being part of a dominant paradigm, and that a science cannot make concrete progress without agreeing on a paradigm to function in, I would not call the tendancy in normal times to resist ideas that don't fit the dominant paradigm necessarily counterproductive. (However counterproductive it may have been in specific instances.)

For every positive contribution that you can name which was rejected because it did not fit with existing authority, there are thousands of cranks who were also rejected. And many of the ideas which we first find presented outside of science were presented at a time or place where they couldn't be tested. When science was ready to address them, they were addressed. As wonderful as the principle of constantly being willing to start fresh may seem, it doesn't work so well in practice. Pre-emptive filtering of some kind is an unfortunate necessity.

An incidental note. Did you know that Einstein's PhD thesis compared and contrasted different ways of measuring Avagadro's Number? Indeed the fact that so many different methods of measurement lead to the same number was one of the arguments that atoms were real. Another note, Einstein's scientific work became accepted by scientists fairly quickly. The major rejection of his work that is worthy of note was the Nazi rejection, and that was motivated by race, not established scientific authority.

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