View Active Topics          Latest 100 Topics          View Your Posts          Switch to Mobile

The 3 Stages of Truth: Is it true?

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

The 3 Stages of Truth: Is it true?

Postby NucleicAcid » 04 Apr 2010, 00:00

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

-Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 - 1860)

We've all heard it. Parapsychologists, cold fusion research, UFO fanatics, 9/11 Truthers, and those silly David Icke followers, e.g. ANYONE that's going against the grain and is defending their ideology against criticism (for the record I believe the first 2 are plausible), is almost guaranteed to drag it out at some point. I could make something up right now, something totally absurd, and use that quote like a safeguarding blanket against my radical new idea.

But despite all of its use and misuse, does that make it any less true?

Assume the scientific consensus is the incorrect idea X. Someone comes along and says, X is wrong, Y is true. That person gets laughed all the way home. They get other people researching Y, build support and evidence for Y, and present it to Science again. This time, Science realizes that there may be something to this. But it still goes against everything they know. So they pick it apart with all of their might. Openly denounce it in the journals and magazines. Continue with some of the ridicule. But they are putting up a fight now. Then, over time, as more and more people research Y, they realize Y is in fact true. At some point, Science goes, "Well, bollocks. We were wrong. Y is in fact true." The person to put the final nail in the coffin (sometimes not the person who discovered Y) gets a Nobel. Y is now the new scientific standard. You're a cook and a loony and a pseudoscientist to believe anything else.

Does the course of events in science ever follow this patten? (Obviously, many discoveries are build upon prior discoveries, and therefore are just an extension. But occasionally, something REALLY shakes things up). Let's look at some things that were Idea Y in the past.

Plate Techtonics
Ball Lightning
Meteors
Quantum Mechanics
Relativity (these two to a smaller extent, primarily because there were so few people in the world that actually understood this stuff, and the changeover happened rather fast. But Classical Mechanics was still very widely held)
Wave-particle duality
Anthropogenic Climate Change (actually had a lot of mainstream support from the getgo)
Endosymbiotic Theory
Epigenetics
Cognitive Psychology (as opposed to behaviorism)
And many many more

Sure, I can say that the Hollow Earth is the next big thing that's waiting to be proven, and that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be proven in the future. But of the earth-shaking things that are proven down the road, did all or most go through this process?
Hey, you there. Yes, you. Read more journal articles.

If what I say sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown (Wah wahh woohh wuh waah), then you should try college. It's fun, and only costs you your soul and several tens of thousands of dollars. :)

“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven“ - Richard Wiseman

Let's make directional hypotheses, test them repeatedly, replicate experiments, and publish results! Yay, science!
User avatar
NucleicAcid
 
Posts: 169
Joined: 26 Mar 2010, 04:20






Re: The 3 Stages of Truth: Is it true?

Postby wjbeaty » 10 Apr 2010, 10:45

> But of the earth-shaking things that are proven down the road, did all or most go through this process?

It's a mixture of course!

I've witnessed the "stages of truth" process personally. Sagan famously says
"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it."
No, often that's not how it works, at least in my experience. Instead, the new idea is emotionally attacked and heaped with scorn. But then when it later turns out to be genuine and valuable, its enemies don't say in public "my position is mistaken." Instead they go silent. Admitting their shameful mistake is the last thing they'd ever do. Then some time goes by and you observe them loudly supporting the new idea ...a little *too* loudly. They never apologize to the ones they've attacked, and even remain enemies. Sagan is correct that change is sometimes painful, but I think most of their pain comes from their having very publicly played a part in attempts to derail a valuable new discovery. The white knight who tries to defend science from encroaching contamination ...is suddenly revealed doing real harm to science. Not easy to live down.

---

Every now and then I stumble across a mundane conventional piece of science with an unexpected history of aggressive ridicule and denial. The first two stages of truth are rarely publicized, since they make science look bad. Scanning-tunneling microscopes! Whoda thunk that the inventors of STM needed to fight against a wall of angry ridicule and derision.

"Atom Tinkerer's Paradise" SCIENCE NEWS, October 24, 1998
http://tinyurl.com/SciNewsSTM

The Doppler effect for light beams was long the object of ridicule, and Doppler himself didn't live long enough to see it vindicated and become an accepted part of physics. Ohm's law attracted venomous criticism: I've always loved the phrase used to describe it: "A Tissue of Naked Fancy." Both the transistor and the laser were seen as wastes of time by the heads of labs where they were discovered. (The transistor was developed not on a lab bench but on a wheeled cart, where it could be rolled into a closet, in case their boss Shockley came by and noticed they were still working on it after having been forbidden.) Dark Matter was only recently vindicated, even though it was discovered by astronomer F. Zwicky in 1933, and had been actively scorned by the astro community over Zwicky's loud complaints and criticism (see http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2009/06/the_last_100_years_the_1930s_a.php the Dark Matter Rap http://www2b.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/newposts/4594/post4594985.shtm)

An excellent reference on this sort of thing is a chapter on scientists' responses to new ideas, found in WIB Beveridge's "The Art of Scientific Investigation" Here's a chilling quotation: "Many [valid] discoveries must have been stillborn or smothered at birth. We know only those which survived."

Another is the collection "Hidden Histories of Science" with essays by Stephen J Gould, Oliver Sacks and many others. The authors dig up dirt in their own fields: embarrassing and rarely examined events which make science look bad. (That's something that makes science what it is today. Exposing your flaws for public scorn would be judged traitorous elsewhere. Try doing it in a woo community, or in CSICOP, and the rest of the membership will reject you as an enemy infiltrator.)
-----------------------------------------------
'Skeptic' does not mean scoffer
'Skeptic' does not mean debunker
'Skeptic' does not mean csicop member
'Skeptic' does not mean Atheist
'Skeptic' does not mean cynic
'Skeptic' does not mean woo-woo-hater
'Skeptic' does not mean anti-paranormalist
'Skeptic' does not even mean self-declared Skeptic
((((((((((((( ( (O) ) )))))))))))))
Bill Beaty Science Hobbyist
billb|eskimo com http://amasci.com/wclose/
User avatar
wjbeaty
 
Posts: 38
Joined: 15 Oct 2009, 17:59
Location: Seattle, U of Washington

Re: The 3 Stages of Truth: Is it true?

Postby NucleicAcid » 11 Apr 2010, 23:13

Awesome! I checked out your site too, that has a lot of good stuff :)
Hey, you there. Yes, you. Read more journal articles.

If what I say sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown (Wah wahh woohh wuh waah), then you should try college. It's fun, and only costs you your soul and several tens of thousands of dollars. :)

“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven“ - Richard Wiseman

Let's make directional hypotheses, test them repeatedly, replicate experiments, and publish results! Yay, science!
User avatar
NucleicAcid
 
Posts: 169
Joined: 26 Mar 2010, 04:20

Re: The 3 Stages of Truth: Is it true?

Postby Craig Browning » 13 Apr 2010, 01:33

Yes... I've enjoyed reading through this thread.

I've also found it curious when "science" changes its views... for an example; in the 19th century Phrenology {http://www.phrenology.org/intro.html} was viewed as a Valid aspect of Human Behavioral Science so much so that people couldn't get jobs without meeting certain Phrenological requisites... then again, I've seen the same done with Graphology {http://www.paralumun.com/graphology.htm} and Astrology in recent times. Nonetheless, Phrenology was going through a period of high praise for a number of years as were other theories tide to the shape of the Human Head/skull. Much of this actually evolved out of the pseudo-anthropologists of the day, who explained "Negro" inferiority based on their skull and skeletal composition. While we know that there is such a thing as the "Nigroid" composition, just as their is a Mongol and Caucasian framework {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_%28classification_of_human_beings%29}, little to none of the data assigned such things reflects one's actual qualifications when it comes to mental or physical ability, it's just a marker for race or "race grouping" and even that was more of a geographic or environmental mode of influence in that we've seen such details evolving out of existence so to speak... but that's another issue entirely. My point centers on how science once supported everything from Racism to personal Superiority simply based on our bones; the bumps and valleys of our head, the cut of our brow, etc.

Ironically, we still do those things today just not in the same formal mode as it was once practiced and certainly not in the more cruel manner it was once manipulated as. But then we've seen the Mental Health field lend credence (be it for a few short years) to the work of Sheldon and his Somatotype theories {http://www.kheper.net/topics/typology/somatotypes.html} Today's variations range from the psychological advantages of how you dress and which colors are most effective for you (power suits, etc. ) to forgetting how a cigar is nothing other than a cigar... if you get my drift. :roll:

I just find it interesting how little in way of "confession" seems to take shape when science discovers a fubar and has to correct itself.

Unfortunately I'm not thinking real clear this morning... I've got to leave things here :?
User avatar
Craig Browning
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 13 Feb 2010, 05:20
Location: Northampton, MA


Return to PseudoSkeptic Fallacies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests