Intelligent Design

Astonishingly Stupid Arrogance

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“The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.”

Patent Office Commissioner Henry Ellsworth, 1843

“It’s not so clear that there will be any more revolutions in physics.”

Ian Hacking, 2012

Do our readers know of more examples of astonishingly stupid and arrogant assertions along the lines of “We now know it all, or nearly so, and the only job left is to suss out the details”?

9 Replies to “Astonishingly Stupid Arrogance

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    When I did physics, I ran across the saying that at about end of C19, there was a common notion that physics was more or less closed and new PhDs would be given for adding another decimal to key constants. I take it that complacency that we got it figured out is probably a precursor to revolutions in science.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Kairosfocus, are you thinking of this?:

    Walking back to my hotel, I was sure that Dr. Krauss reminded me of something, and later realized what it was:

    In science, small, persistent effects cannot be ignored. Sometimes they force a revision of major paradigms. For example, Lord Kelvin remarked in 1900 that there were just “two little dark clouds” on the horizon of Newtonian classical physics of the day, namely, Michelson and Morley’s measurements of the velocity of light and the phenomenon of blackbody radiation. Kelvin was certain that these troubling little clouds would be blown away shortly.149 Yet all of modern physics—relativity and quantum mechanics—derives from these two little dark clouds. (The Spiritual Brain, p. 173)

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hacking’s statement is even more astonishing when you consider that Kelvin’s problems with the velocity of light and blackbody radiation pale in comparison to the problem of dark matter and dark energy. Neither has ever been observed; yet modern cosmology hangs on their existence.

  4. 4
    stjones says:

    Consensus “science” exists to prevent revolutions (i.e. protect the status quo and associated grants).

  5. 5
    News says:

    Frans de Waal, “The Age of Empathy”: Dr. de Waal, a primatologist, allows us to know: “I’d argue that biology constitutes our greatest hope. One can only shudder at the thought that the humaneness of our societies would depend on the whims of politics, culture or religion.”

    (Quoted in Nicholas Wade, “We May Be Born With an Urge to Help,” New York Times, November 30, 2009: http://tinyurl.com/yelsos8 )

    [Yet the whims of biology have included mass eugenic sterilization and holocausts. In what possible sense could biology be our greatest hope? Is this arrogance or insanity?]

  6. 6
    Bruce David says:

    Well, another rather obvious one is that while the biological establishment is claiming that “evolution is a fact”, we are in the midst of a genuine Kuhnsian paradigm shift in biology—from the neo-Darwinian synthesis to ID.

    This one IMHO is even more contentious and wrenching than most because of the theological implications of the outcome, and because that outcome will have a strong impact on the very foundations of so many people’s worldviews. The implications of quantum physics and relativity while profound, still allowed one to assent to the new paradigms and continue to be a materialist. This will be much more difficult for them when it becomes inescapable that neo-Darwinism just doesn’t cut it. In addition, there are those, like the theistic evolutionists, who do not like the theological implications of the idea that all living things were designed, presumably by God.

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    I once read that a Brit scientist in the 1700’s said all inventions had been already discovered. !

    even if all physics was finished how would this guy know it!
    Its an option that if it wasn’t done this guy wouldn’t know because of the reason he can’t discover anything himself.
    Cause and effect.
    Physics of thought and imagination.

  8. 8
    groovamos says:

    Wait a minute. Is it just me, or is it very clear that there will more revolutions in physics? Which is more arrogant, implying that it is very clear that there will be revolutions, or calling someone arrogant for saying: it is not clear. It is not so clear (at least to me) that this thread is not over the top.

  9. 9
    mahuna says:

    All of the Socialist arguments for Central Planning assume that there will be no new economic ideas or significant new inventions. It is only because new discoveries and inventions had ended by 1900 or so that it was now possible to accurately plan all production. If new discoveries and inventions were to continue, or worse, accelerate, then Central Planning was doomed to be a hopeless failure…

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