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I'm Going To Take A Deep Breath

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Posted by Nicholas on November 26, 2002 21:40:35 UTC

My anger is not defensiveness I assure you. Let me explain something to you.

The system (science) is designed to be both accepting and resistant to change. When a new theory comes along (like relativity), it is put up to the most stringent tests and is usually resisted very strongly. This is not a bad thing (or a mistake), however. This is how the system works. If scientists threw up their hands in defeat every time a new idea came out, we wouldn't be progressing anywhere. The same is true of every major discovery in this and previous centuries. Quantum mechanics met extremely stiff resistance and had to be put to many tests before people believed it. The same is true of the expansion of the universe, quantum electrodynamics, the solar neutrino problem, and many others.

There are an infinity of ways in which our universe COULD be. Until the turn of the century, there was no reason to think that there was such a thing as a "speed limit" in the universe. Nobody would have considered relativity until the experiments started showing discrepancies from theory. Einstein's work was only published a decade or two after these experiments were conducted. Thus, it was not fundamentally different from any other major scientific breakthrough, it is only seen as different by the ignorant public because its implications are so unusual and far-reaching.

When scientists DON'T resist a major new theory, that is when you should be worried. Some theories are still being tested, like string theory and the dark matter hypothesis. If these turn out to be true, the fact that people didn't accept them right away will not be the result of a "psychological problem". It is the nature of science. Just because a scientist does something unethical or is just wrong about something, that doesn't mean that the community's attitudes need to be changed. Perhaps certain individuals need to change their attitude, but you wouldn't be in a position to know which ones. The system has been maximized for efficiency over many centuries, and you are sitting at your computer claiming that you know a better way to do it. Pardon my skepticism.

So tell me this, mister Eddy, what is it that makes you think you're in a position to determine what "attitude" is appropriate for the scientific community. Do you have a strong opinion about everything that you don't understand? You may not be doing any damage here, but when some moron goes up in front of Congress and says these things, science loses funding. When a creationist uses these arguments to get Bible stories taught in schools, it hurts science. The same is true in politics, medicine, law, and almost any other field. When people start getting opinionated about things they don't understand, damage is done. Your attitude of being condescending to people who disagree with you is extremely irritating. The fact that you are assuming that you're right is all that much more obnoxious given the fact that you know very little about the topic at hand. You are NOT qualified to make some of the judgements you are making. Talk about something you know.

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