In high school I took a lot of social science classes. It was interesting, but all the politics and the roaring debates in classroom was a major turn off. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize it’s important. But to me, it was a whirling pool of anger and resentment.
That’s not the major reason I chose to be a science major, but it’s a contributing factor. I thought science was all factual information. People in lab coats striving to better understand our world. To me that was beautiful and I wanted to be a part of it. Burning people at stake for a different viewpoint was centuries ago… right?
Wrong. Science is just as susceptible to that “whirlpool of anger and resentment” as anything else. Even if something has been proven with impeccable data and results, it does not guarantee acceptance with open arms.
Take Dr.Bruce Lipton for example. We now take epigenetics (study of changes due to modified gene expression) seriously. But in the 1990’s when the topic was first introduced, scientists blew up into hysterics at the thought of the concept. This is why Dr.Lipton left the academia for good in 1992, because although his experiments supported his views, he felt his message was falling onto deaf ears.
An interesting book, I’m reading called The Mind (edited by John Brockman) also highlights an example. When Darwin came back from his voyage, he displayed his Galapagos finches and reptiles, the crucial evidence of evolution. John Gould who was a great ornithologist at the time and knew a lot about birds, corrected some of Darwin’s information and gave him more crucial information in support of evolution.
But Gould himself still remained a creationist and didn’t stand for evolution. As the book says "the man who knew more saw less and the man who knew less saw more"
I learned that great things take time. Facts and statistics don’t persuade people. Some are forever imprisoned by their own beliefs.
Here is a great article on how some people respond to scientific evidence by twisting information to fit their preexisting views (LINK)
Ofcourse science is a ever changing field and I’m sure by the time I’m 40, science textbooks will be revised and edited many times over. But many new concepts are heavily ridiculed and then gradually accepted generations later.
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
I aspire to be you.