[Paleopsych] SW: Battling Established Views in Science - Igor 10/04/05 9:38 AM
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Tue Oct 11 23:56:40 UTC 2005
Battling Established Views in Science - Igor 10/04/05 9:38 AM
ScienceWeek Message Board
There has been much discussion on this board in the past few days
about researchers with unpopular ideas battling the established views
of other scientists. The recent award of the Nobel Prize for
Physiology and Medicine to Marshall and Warren is just such a case,
and it illustrates an important aspect of biomedical research.
When Marshall and Warren first claimed H. pylori was involved in the
pathology of stomach ulcers, they were derided and criticized by the
medical community. But these two researchers persisted, not by
argument, polemics, criticism of other research, etc., but by doing
more experiments, more and more experiments, Marshall even doing
dangerous experiments on himself -- until finally the biomedical
community gradually began to support their ideas.
As I've said before, biology (which means also biomedical science) is
essentially at present an experimental and empirical science. For the
most part, biologists are not persuaded by theory to shift their
thinking. It was Darwin's observations that persuaded biologists, not
his theory, which had already been anticipated by others.
Controversies in biology are usually settled by experiment or careful
observations -- and not by rational arguments. There may be some
exceptions, but these exceptions do not define the science of biology,
which at the present time is experimental and empirical. This does not
mean there is no good theory in biology. There is plenty of it and
much of it extremely valuable, but we got there by doing experiments,
and not by arguing.
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