Unorthodox views get no shrift in science
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/11/30
Those who become AIDS Rethinkers, HIV Skeptics, HIV/AIDS “dissidents”, typically become almost immediately astounded at how the mainstream ignores the facts that disprove the HIV/AIDS hypothesis: How can this be!?! This isn’t how science is supposed to work!!
The same astonishment has been experienced by independent thinkers in other intellectual areas. A recent book recounts the experiences of a range of physicists and astronomers and others who found that their work became anathema as soon as it transcended the accepted paradigm:
Against the Tide: A Critical Review by Scientists of How Physics and Astronomy Get Done, Martin Lopez Corredoira and Carlos Castro Perelman (eds), Universal Publishers, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. 2008. 265 pp.
A recent review (againstthetidecurrentsciencereview in Current Science, 95, 25 November 2008, 1485) indicates how similar the experiences of these scientists are to what AIDS Rethinkers encounter:
“This book deals with the tension between the scientific establishment of a given time, and scientists with radical or heretical ideas, who work outside the mainstream, and have difficulties in having their ideas accepted or even seriously critiqued. . . . much of the scientific activity at the present time confirms [sic] to a set of ideas and paradigms which are unquestionably accepted by the vast majority of practising scientists. Most work is done within this framework, and those who disagree with it find it difficult to survive academically, because they are denied grants, positions, research facilities like observing time on telescopes, invitations to speak at conferences, the opportunity to publish in the best research journals, and even to post their papers on open electronic archives heavily used by the community. These difficulties make it impossible to air radical ideas, or glaring inconsistencies in experimental or observational data, which challenge the very foundations of mainstream science. This suppression of dissent and challenging new ideas, without examining them carefully for correctness and applicability, prevents progress in human knowledge, and the vast resources expended on science go in vain, merely perpetuating unqualified beliefs and dogmas. . . . The book should be read by everyone working in science, to become acquainted with the anguish that some people feel at the way they have been treated by the scientific establishment, and their to publish their ideas and have them criticized or accepted in a normal way. It is possible that readers may find in these thoughts echoes of the dissatisfaction which they may have felt from time to time, even while working within the system. Or better still, some may be prompted to ponder over the injustice they may have meted out to those in their charge.”
Another review, againsttideinfiniteenergy80review, is in Infinite Energy, a journal that publishes heterodox material about alternative energy sources, especially “cold fusion”, which is now more usually described as “low-energy nuclear reactions” (LENR) or “condensed matter nuclear science” . The most up-to-date information about this can be found at New Energy Times and a number of other web sites. “Cold fusion” was almost immediately dismissed as pseudo-science a couple of decades ago, but hundreds of researchers have continued to investigate the tangible indications that there is some unrecognized source of energy waiting to be tapped.
(Full disclosure: the book reprints my essay on “Ethics in Science”)