[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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