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Heretics

Entry 646, on 2007-11-25 at 16:46:03 (Rating 2, Science)

I recently listened to a podcast which discussed how progress is sometimes made in science through what were originally heretical ideas being gradually absorbed into accepted scientific theory. An example was given of the famous cosmologist, Thomas Gold, who has a theory regarding production of hydrocarbons (oil and coal, for example) through non-biological mechanisms. In the past he originated a theory regarding pulsars which was initially rejected but later turned out to be true. He was also a prominent supporter of the Steady State theory which later turned out to be false.

My point is that just because an occasional "crazy" theory is eventually found to be true, we shouldn't take all crazy theories too seriously. Most of them really are crazy and its only a tiny fraction which are eventually shown to be true. And the truth of the "crazy but true" theories is eventually demonstrated anyway, even if they are initially ridiculed. So I still contend that the best approach to crazy theories is to accept them on face value and say they are crazy, of course Niels Bohr once said: "Your theory is crazy, but not crazy enough to be true." Given the findings of quantum physics (which was an area he pioneered) who could argue with that?

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