Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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Scientists are animals though some don’t know it


Animals have emotions too—and may sometimes act on higher moral plane than many scientists



Plenty of material tonight (April 18) for anyone who suspects that scientists are just as clueless as anyone else when it comes to their own untested general beliefs and perceptions. Is AIDS any different?

PBS 13 in NYC is showing the documentary Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry # 102 about non-human animals having—shock, horror!—emotions. Lot of cute segments of animals getting excited in various social scenes—elephants grouping to rescue an infant from quicksand mud, chimps comforting a friend who got the worst of a fight, paying respects to a dead leader, choosing a civil leader instead of a tyrant, showing gratitude, grief etc. Dogs which search for human bodies after earthquakes get so depresssed if they don’t find anyone live that at the end of an unsuccessful day the trainers set up an artificial rescue, just to stop them feeling so bad.

Very heartening to those like yours truly who never had any difficulty understanding that our fellow animals feel emotions. What is surprising is evidence that some animals feel moral ie self sacrificial emotions more strongly than most humans.

All in all, I would say, a depressing comment on how utterly obtuse most scientists are and have always been, since it is clear that even today many are “backward” as the documentary puts it in understanding this simple fact of life, which is no more than we are animals and animals are us.

Surely the motivation behind this distortion of vision is misplaced human pride in fantasizing that somehow we are supra-animals, better than the others, is the familiar motivation that makes knuckleheads resist Darwinian evolution. The fact that any scientists still subscribe to this nonsense thatt animals don’t feel emotion is a disgrace to the profession as a vocation, but it seems clear from the treatment of lab animals that many do. It reminds one of those who claim that newborn babies don’t feel the end of the skin of the penis being chopped off.

The documentary shows that in fact animals can be better in terms of social sacrifice than many human beings. One moving incident recounted is where a dog raced alongside a truck trying to get it to stop, and the unbelievably dumb (ie typical human) driver didn’t understand him until too late. The dog finally ran under the truck and was killed, when the “superior” form of animal stopped the truck and finally understood. Just beyond a rise lay the driver’s brother, who had fallen off a bike and was immobile—and in the path of the truck, which would have hit and probably killed him instead of the dog.

The documentary ended with the very nice quote as follows:

We need another and wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves, and therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings, They are other Nations. Caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

It’s from The Outermost House:A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod, a book by Henry Beston about Cape Cod which some call the best book on nature ever written.

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