• Peter Kupisz

Scientists Can be Close-Minded When it Comes to Unconventional Ideas

Many skeptics assert that, in contrast to religion, scientists are open-minded people who always welcome new ideas and are very happy to admit when they are wrong. But the history of science shows that this is not how many scientists actually behave. Numerous examples show that when a new idea is proposed, other scientists can find it quite threatening and react with hostility.


For example, Benoît Mandelbrot received a good deal of scorn when he first developed the theory of fractal geometry. The same thing happened when Barry Marshall and Robin Warren argued that peptic ulcers could be caused by bacterial infections. Later on, Marshall and Warren won the Nobel Prize. In 2011, Daniel Shechtman also won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of quasicrystals. But prior to this event, many scientists ridiculed him for his ideas and he even lost a research post. A Reuters article noted how this happened.

“People just laughed at me,” Shechtman recalled in an interview this year with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noting how Linus Pauling, a colossus of science and double Nobel laureate, mounted a frightening “crusade” against him, saying: “There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.”
After telling Shechtman to go back and read the textbook, the head of his research group asked him to leave for “bringing disgrace” on the team. “I felt rejected,” Shachtman [sic] remembered.

It's important to realize that scientists are not as open-minded as certain atheists proclaim. That's important to keep in mind when one hears certain scientists scorn unconventional ideas such as Intelligent Design.


Reference

Patrick Lannin and Veronika Ek, “Ridiculed Crystal Work Wins Nobel for Israeli,” Reuters, October 5, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/nobel-chemistry-idUSL5E7L51U620111005.

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