In science, dissent is not a drawback; it is a necessity. The mathematicians Edward Kasner and James Newman write that “the testament of science is so continuously in a flux that the heresy of yesterday is the gospel of today and the fundamentalism of tomorrow.” The courage to say no to scientific authority, to contradict widely accepted knowledge, to question and disrupt the status quo is essential to science’s ability to move forward.
In a 1675 letter to Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton wrote the famous phrase “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Newton paraphrased earlier uses of that sentence to make a point: Mavericks can produce transformative change only thanks to a vast body of incremental research done quietly, with no fame or recognition, and with no front-page news. In science, the incremental progress of many enables the transformative actions of individual mavericks.
And the history of science is rife with outstanding mavericks. In the fifth century BCE, the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras suggested heavenly bodies are made of stones snatched by a rotating ether. Arrested and sentenced to death for his claims about the Moon and the Sun, Anaxagoras was saved by his friend Pericles, a powerful statesman, and instead was exiled. The revolutionary progress made by Anaxagoras spurred some of humanity’s earliest attempts at understanding the order of the universe and the transition from chaos to order through motion, an idea still in use today. – Tomasz Durakiewicz (November 2022)
Part of what went wrong during the COVID crazy is that no one with influence seemed to realize that.
Hat tip: Pos-darwinista