Defending the established doctrine
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/02/06
It’s been said over and over again by insightful people, yet the popular conventional wisdom has never incorporated the importance of listening to minority voices, dissident voices. Here’s how John Locke put it, cited in that “Shakespeare” book I mentioned a little while ago:
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
My Bartlett places it in the dedicatory epistle of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690
On this theme of the inertia of orthodox opinion, in connection with science see the classic essays by Bernard Barber [Resistance by scientists to scientific discovery, Science 134 (1961) 596–602] and Gunther Stent [Prematurity and uniqueness in scientific discovery, Scientific American, December 1972, pp. 84–93] and the edited discussions in Ernest Hook, Prematurity in scientific discovery: on resistance and neglect (University of California Press, 2002). But don’t bother asking the HIV/AIDS enthusiasts whether an overwhelming mainstream consensus could ever be wrong — “of course all those papers published over 25 years have proved beyond doubt that HIV cause AIDS”, you’ll be told. But, then, also don’t bother asking them exactly which of all those publications contains the proof.