Saturday, August 13, 2011

There is No Beauty without some Strangeness of Proportion/ Part 16/ Section 17

By Brian George
The slow discovery of Longitude

“Man is not rational; there is intelligence only in what encompasses him.”—Heraclitus, Fragment 62

Hi Septagenetic,

Thanks for the Colin Andrews link. It appears as though you follow the inside gossip of the crop circle community far more closely than do I. Entertaining—to a degree.

Aside from the “he said/ she said” nature of the drama, however, I am not sure what I am supposed to take away from this spat between Colin Andrews and Nancy Talbot. One or both could be utterly fraudulent and deluded in their claims, but this would not in any way alter the challenges that the phenomenon of crop circles pose.

Einstein may have been mean to his first wife—who contributed some unacknowledged portion of the math to the first paper on relativity—and Crick’s concept of the DNA double-helix may have been prompted by his experience with a hallucinogen. What difference does this make?

Let us say that it is possible to view crop circles as a language; it makes little difference if someone’s chemical analysis of the paper that it is written on is correct.

If Doris Kearns Goodwin is accused of plagiarism due to her use of a research assistant’s notes, then this does not mean that the Revolutionary War never happened.

The skeptic might say, “See, I told you so! This is the beginning of the end for all of you self-deluded ‘historians.’ You thought that you were so smart with your tweedy coats and your international seminars and your Meerschaum pipes and your wire-rimmed glasses. The hour of your Ragnarok is at hand!”

But the melodrama here is mostly on the part of the observer. One might characterize him/her as “overinvested.”

If Talbot’s facts are incorrect, so be it; there are plenty more where those came from! The solution is simply to collect more facts, to reevaluate the evidence from a multitude of angles, and to then form new and more comprehensive theories. Mistakes will be made, and then many more mistakes—for such is the nature of the scientific beast.

The real problem is that almost all mainstream scientists are timid and reluctant to do damage to their careers, and thus do not dare to look clearly into the issues—if they dare to look at all. As I have previously argued: There can be no science without curiosity.

How many theories have been proven wrong or incomplete since the beginning of the 18th century?—Too many to count. We might reasonably conclude that Empirical Method has been lurching toward oblivion. It would nonetheless be unseemly for the Pope to jump up and down and shout “Aha! Aha!” every time a scientist was forced to reformulate his theories.

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