On 07.01.2012 18:15 John Clark said the following:
"Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed
for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with
science. It has something to do with the general quality of our
civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the
most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to
The "most severe sanctions" that Feyerabend is talking about is not
getting tenure, that is to say not getting a well paid cushy job for
the rest of your life where its almost impossible to get fired. How
In any form of human activity there is a general consensus on if
someone is doing a good job or not, and science is no exception. The
scientific consensus, being composed of human beings, is not perfect
and sometimes it gets it wrong, but the beauty of science is it's
self correcting and big errors usually don't last for very long.
Probably the longest was the consensus about Alfred Wegerner, he
developed his theory of continental drift in 1912 but most scientists
did not think he was right until the 1960s. But in defense of the
scientific consensus until the 1960s the evidence for continental
drift was not very good. As for those "most severe sanctions"
Wegerner continued to make a living as a scientist and published
books and papers until his death. I'd say that science treats its
heretics a bit better than the way religion treats theirs.
John K Clark
Let me give you another example from the recent history (I will not even
touch the science in the atheistic Soviet Union under Stalin). So on
this list people quite often refer to Alan Turing. From Wikipedia
"Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when
homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted
treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative
to prison. He died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd
birthday, from cyanide poisoning."
Who treated Turing with female hormones? The Church or the medical science?
Now the society is much more tolerant, I agree, but I am not sure if
this could be ascribed to the science. Or you mean the sexual revolution
was made by scientists?
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