Science and technological advance has always required……and always will require……a balanced combination of both open minds and conservative pragmatism / skepticism ( What makes anybody think that stubbornly arrogant and closed – minded individuals will accept scientific facts and evidence any more than pseudoscience ? Some of today’s crackpots may be tomorrow’s visionaries). Admittedly, most hair – brained ideas outside the box simply will not work……it takes the process of logical elimination to narrow things down to the few that will work. Even if only one out of a thousand wacky ideas turn out to be a huge success, then the other 999 failed attempts is still well worth it.
And furthermore, most of the closed – minded arrogance in the mainstream science community these days is based upon the premature assumption that everything has done already been discovered……that nothing else new out there awaits our discovery. This premature assumption may or may not be true. Throughout the long history of science and technological advance, this assumption has already been made many times before……oftentimes turning out to be false. When considering the mainstream science community’s own lousy track record in the past in believing that all major discoveries have done been made, it just might still be possible for a major discovery to unexpectedly pop out of the blue.
It could mean instead that all the EASY discoveries and innovations have done been made……that the going will be more slow and difficult from now on. Just about anybody can invent something as simple as an old – fashioned paperclip by bending a piece of wire. But what about something as complex as a nuclear reactor or a rocket engine ? This poses a whole different level of daunting engineering challenges.
Is there such a thing as absolute physical constraints ?
Absolutely. For example, the velocity of light is an absolute physical limitation (as far as we know……some theoretical physicists have contemplated various ways to circumvent this problem so that interstellar travel to the stars may be within our grasp. Such as a spacecraft enveloped within some kind of space – time bubble that allows warp speeds without relativistic effects. But all this is still very sketchy, speculative, controversial and highly theoretical Sci – Fi yet to be proven). Even within the mainstream science community, such crackpot notions get more serious attention……if it’s coming from somebody highly respected with great credentials within the mainstream scientific community……rather than an ordinary layman.
Another absolute physical limitation is the finite size of planet Earth itself. No amount of open – minded thinking and new technological innovation will save us……not even focus fusion……if our species continues to breed and multiply like a swarm of destructive locusts upon the planet. The pessimistic predictions of Malthus may still turn out to be true in the long – run. No amount of thinking outside the box or any new advances will necessarily prevent us from going the way of the dinosaurs and many other extinct species……if our own population is not held in check.
It can sometimes be a grave mistake to dogmatically worship the scientific priesthood as the new religion, too. This arrogance in thinking we can improve upon nature often has nasty unintended consequences. It has also been said that : ” Logic and reason is the art of going wrong with confidence.” How true. This is not a slam against science and technology……or it’s attempts to create a better world……I’m all for it……but just a balanced and fair – minded observation.
In the State of Pennsylvania where I’m at, we have this very nasty silkworm creature ravaging our forests……they devour everything in sight. I’ve been told that this was a terrible scientific mistake gone awry. The Chinese silkworm was imported into this country and crossbred with a local species of caterpillar in the hopes of boosting silk production. Ooops ! The thing escaped from the laboratory and is now causing a major ecological catastrophe. Not even the most brilliant scientific expert from Harvard or Princeton or any other highly prestigious credentials could have forseen this ever happening.
The point is, I don’t completely trust the imperfect humanity of the scientific priesthood religion much more than Noah’s Ark religion. Always, always,always……question authority……including scientific authority. And after you’ve got the facts……it does’nt hurt to double – check the facts to be sure they’re truly factual. Because there’s a certain degree of uncertainty to reality itself.
I would also like to comment on what breakable said about how we should trust the few annointed to run our government and economy and everything else for us :
I agree with breakable for the most part and understand the point he was trying to make. However, democracy performs lousy when people are ignorant and dumb (Radical – WRONG – wing extremist conservative Republicans such as Herbert Hoover and George Bush are evidence of this. So are radical left – wing extremist liberals who are just as equally lame – brained. Truly smart moderates are extremely scarce). The main object of a democracy which performs well is that almost everybody is self – educated and well informed enough to make good decisions……so that almost everybody is annointed. The lessons of history should have taught us all too clear by now what can occasionally happen from time to time……when the vast majority of dumb and blind sheep place too much trust and blind faith in so – called ” annointed ” dictators like Hitler and Stalin.
However, I must definitely agree with breakable that rare nuclear physics talent like Lerner is truly annointed, and I still hope for enormous success with focus fusion. Because I still think that maintaining an open mind of optimism and visionary thinking plays a bigger role in critical thinking, as well as advances in our physical knowlege and understanding than many people think.
Lets take for example, the two German scientists who discovered uranium fission. They were convinced that a neutrally – charged particle like a neutron may have the best chance of triggering nuclear reactions when absorbed into a nucleus. So they systematically bombarded every chemical element in the periodic table……and failed.
At least, that is, until they came to uranium……the heaviest element found in nature. But what if they had been closed – minded pessimists and decided to prematurely call it quits, just because most atoms simply won’t fission ?
Examples like this demonstrate conclusively that maintaining the open mind of an optimist……combined with persistence and long – suffering perserverence……does indeed play a valuable role in our critical thinking……that it does indeed occasionally pay – off real big in increasing our physical understanding of the world around us. Even if such open – minded optimism often results in far more ” misses” than the occasional direct ” hits “.
So do I think that open – minded optimism plays absolutely no role in our advances in science and technology ? Not for one minute do I think such a thing ! ! ! To think otherwise is pure bunk, because the history of science and invention itself bears out all too clearly how visionaries like Henry Ford used this positive – thinking mindset to their advantage. You sometimes have to keep plugging away at ” hit or miss ” preposterous crackpot notions, tossing most of them out one by one……until you eventually get it right. If anything, the process of elimination tells you something about what will not work, narrowing it down to the few things that might work. It’s what you call basic research.
So for the most part, I’m still and open – minded optimist, even if most ideas outside the box don’t always work. While the pessimist predictions of the Malthusians may still turn out to be true in the long – run if population growth continues unabated……I still think that talented individuals such as Lerner and his researh team can contribute a lot of good to the world……provided that we implement more effective and widespread birth control becoming more prevalent in third – world developing countries.
I’ve noticed that closed – minded arrogance often sits and waits for the scientific facts and evidence to come to them…..and then accepts ” hand – me – down ” knowlege without question. On the other hand, I’ve noticed how the open – minded optimists actively seek – out and chase after the facts and knowlege……greatly expanding the frontiers of knowlege forward……and even occasionally overturning a few long – held and deeply cherished dogmas along the way.
What I like most about these fusion forums is some of the people here who are very open – minded about the unlimited possibilities when thinking outside the box …… even if some of the ideas are somewhat crank – y and crack – pott – E and will not always work. You’ve got to wade through an endless swamp of unworkable ideas, tossing most of them out one by one, before occasionally stumbling upon that rare valuable gem of a discovery. But the rare valuable gem makes the effort well worth it.
I don’t know if you have ever heard of the ignobel prize awards. They are sort of a companion of the Nobel prize awards, but generally involve a bit less work. One such award was for the field of psyco ceramics. “the study of cracked pots”
Google it if you feel so inclined. Some are quite funny. Others will make you think. “Why won’t this idea work?” For example one researcher stated that he saved his organization thousands of dollars by sparing them the purchase of an electron microscope. How did he do this? He repeatedly enlarged an object on a copy machine until, he reasoned, he had achieved similar enlargment to what an electron microscope could achieve.
Obviously there is something wrong with this idea. But what exactly? Why wouldn’t this work? Like I said, makes you think.
No offense Tasmodevil44, but it seems you like to speak (write) alone a lot 😉
Whatever you mean by that 😉
Breakable stated that :
Rational being should consider lack of evidence as disproof, because there is no way you can prove a negative like ” there is no cold fusion “. You can only say ” we tried some things and things and they did not work “.
I can think of no better example of the closed – minded arrogance and dogma of the mainstream conservative science establishment than this one. It’s all due to a mental block caused by electrostatic coulomb repulsion which causes everybody to insist that extremely high temperatures is the only way to overcome it. Which is all just so much crap.
Truth is, cold fusion has done already been confirmed and validated beyond question in literally hundreds of laboratories all over the world. It’s a simple matter of quantum wave mechanics and quantum tunneling past the coulomb charge barrier. Why does it take so many people so long to figure out the most obvious ?
And it’s not always rational for arrogant and closed – minded conservative types to consider lack of evidence the same as disproof, either. That’s why the justice system (injustice system ?) is such a joke. Bad guys go unpunished due to lack of proof. Innocent people get punished because they can’t prove their innocence.
Closed – minded means exactly what it means. They have completely switched – off the main power switch to their brains and refuse to turn their brains back on. All too often, lack of proof or evidence is a lame excuse for not thinking and stubbornly refusing to see even when the evidence is before them in plain sight. It has often been said that seeing is believing, but the opposite is equally true : believing is also a way of seeing. Sometimes stubbornly closed – minded people have to first take a leap of faith and believe first before they can see even the most obvious of things.
I had done already figured out many years ago that extremely closed – minded conservative types are hypocrites. There is a certain amount of two – faced hypocrisy and double – standards to their mentality which itself is NOT scientific or truly rational. Because they preach to everybody else about proof and evidence, but never have to provide any themselves……they can make assumptions and jump to conclusions as much as they want to. I think that EVERYBODY should back themselves with proof and evidence……and NOT just everybody else.
To be trully scientific in the scientific method, science SHOULD BE both open – minded / analytically skeptical in it’s thinking……a healthy balance of both.
Here’s another really good book to read :
The book, published by Nelson Books, is titled, ” CAN A SMART PERSON BELIEVE IN GOD ? “, by Michael Guillen, who is both a scientist…… and a christian (although some people may find that hard to believe). Although I don’t subscribe to Guillen’s personal religious convictions, or patently absurd, childish fables like Adam and Eve, I do admire his open – minded optimism and humble wisdom in defiance of arrogance.
Woo ! This book is more than fun……excellent writing. Guillen does an excellent critique and expose of the mainstream science establishment and it’s terrible track record at proving itself wrong. Especially all the premature claims that all the main principles of physics have done already been discovered and that nothing new out there awaits us. He talks about the Einstein Revolution and how it totally transformed our way of thinking since Newtonian physics. He goes on to tell about the young physicist Thomas Young, who predicted that light consists of waves……and the reaction he first got from the Royal Society in London……and how they practically roasted him at the stake for being a feeble – minded crackpot : ” We now dismiss……the feeble locubrations of the author, ” one of the highly prestigious scientists sneered at him, ” in which we have searched without any success for some traces of learning or ingenuity. ” And yet the discovery later completely revolutionized all of physics as we know it today.
He also goes on to describe the utter folly and downright dangerous fallacy in worshipping science and reason as some kind of a god that is infallible. Michael Guillen states : ” I love science……but I don’t worship it. It’s not my god ” He then goes on to describe all the unintended consequences that have led to environmental pollution and other things by tampering and meddling with the forces of nature. Like the old T.V. commercial about Imperial Margarine from the early seventies which says, ” It’s not nice to fool mother nature ! “.
Woo ! Definitely good reading……more than fun.
Guillen also goes on to describe all the uncertainty to facts, reason and reality itself. And when it comes to the imperfection of human nature and uncertainty, Guillen definitely has plenty to say about that.
Although I still don’t quite buy into his personal religious beliefs, the book is a very good read.
Michael Guillen is a theoretical physicist and also a former ABC News science correspondent. He is the author of other books such as ” FIVE EQUATIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD “.
Jimmy T :
As for the ignobel prize awards, and the psycho – ceramic research on cracked pots, I’d like to go to that site and check it out. I’m pretty sure I’d get some totally riotous belly laughs out of the whole thing. 😆 🙂 :snake: 😛 Nothing quite like a healthy dose of good humor for the soul. 😆