In Defense of Science

“For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause everyone accepts.”

Gertrude Stein

For generations, humanity has progressed through the contrarian. The individual who when everyone else says, “this is the way,” they say, “yeah, but I think there is a flaw there, so I am going to try something new.”

These people still exist today, but unfortunately some of them look for a different result despite scientific evidence. They decide on their own conclusion prior to reviewing the evidentiary facts and the subsequent conclusion. Then they go about trying to prove their conclusion, and when they fail, it is an issue with the experiment, not their conclusion.

I use conclusion intentionally because these individuals are not testing a hypothesis. They are seeking validation for something they already “know.” They might rerun the original tests, get the same results, and still stick to their now disproven conclusion. As examples, I am going to use the fact that the earth is an orb and that our solar system is heliocentric. I will focus on the timelines of the western world.

The earth being a sphere was first proposed around 2500 years ago in ancient Greece. This belief continued to propagate and was spread en masse by the Roman Empire in its later years. It took circumnavigation in the early 16th century to prove it, and then Newton’s subsequent work showed that the earth is slightly elliptical, but definitely an orb.

Regarding heliocentricity, the theory was likely first hypothesized by Aristarchus of Samos over 2200 years ago. But it took the work of Copernicus and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries, in defiance of the Catholic church, and finally Newton to prove it out.

Back to the quote I led with: it took a few contrarian minds continuing to push their theory in defiance of the establishment. And then suddenly, it seems to have been accepted. (Though I doubt those that were persecuted felt acceptance was quick enough.)

Yet I fear we are regressing as a society. There is plenty of mystery left in the universe without going back and rehashing beliefs that have been proven through the scientific method. Science is not opinion or beliefs. Science is developing a hypothesis, conducting a test related to that hypothesis, and drawing conclusions from the evidence. In that order.

For anyone who has doubts, I ask that you start with the work that has been done by brilliant people throughout the ages. Or find an expert on the matter and learn from them.

To quote astronaut Scott Kelly on the first example, “I have seen it [the earth] from space, and it is pretty round. It is not flat.” He has been in space for more than 500 days. I trust him.

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