Suppression of Ideas in Science

Video About Cold Fusion

This is very typical of “science” that doesn’t work. You get a group of devout people supporting it who claim that the scientific establishment is unfair, is shunning their research, is not allowing them to present at conferences, is suppressing their ideas and they want a level playing field. I’ve seen the same whining and crying from people supporting Intelligent Design and people supporting UFOs and people supporting psychics. It is true, that the scientific establishment will not publish papers for these people, given the (lack of) evidence they show. It is biased against ideas with little supporting evidence. It is, however, not unfairly biased, and least not typically. Scientists are humans, and so you do get the occasional overzealous skepticism. That’s actually not a bad thing. As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is incumbent on these people to support their claims with the proper amount of evidence.

If, for example, it was absolutely clear that cold fusion worked then it would be trivial to convert even the most hardened skeptic. If one had convincing evidence for psychic phenomena or ufos or intelligent design, it would become mainstream science and be very easy to convince people. The problem is that these topics are on the fringe, their claims extraordinary, are physical implausible, and the evidence for their existence is terrible.

When you hear about ideas suppressed by the scientific you should immediately think “unlikely, unsupported claim”, despite what the claimants are saying. If the evidence is strong enough, it will convince the skeptics. Both quantum mechanics and relativity are totally weird, and those went from nothing to the dominant idea within a decade because of the strength of the evidence.


About brianblais

I am a professor of Science and Technology at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and a research professor in the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University. My research is in computational neuroscience and statistics. I teach physics, meteorology, astonomy, theoretical neuroscience, systems dynamics, artificial intelligence and robotics. My book, "Theory of Cortical Plasticity" (World Scientific, 2004), details a theory of learning and memory in the cortex, and presents the consequences and predictions of the theory. I am an avid python enthusiast, and a Bayesian (a la E. T. Jaynes), and love music.
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