The phylogenetic work done here
has been dismissed, blackwashed and ridiculed. As in any Science, data is added, mistakes are corrected and every effort has been made to minimize taxon exclusion. Continued vetting of the data makes it stronger. That’s what I’ve been doing all weekend with some conflicting data in basal tetrapods.
As everyone knows,
new hypotheses are sometimes not well accepted by the establishment, whether that authority is religious or scientific. So it’s well understood and even expected that dismissal and ridicule is just part of the process. Earlier we looked at the snails pace at which the feathered and active dinosaur hypothesis was accepted over more than a century.
Here are two other workers
in biochemistry and geology who also received their share of flak from the scientific authorities of their day, not so long ago. See for yourself if the pattern of attack sounds familiar – and more importantly, when you might reserve judgement in the future, especially if you don’t have experimental or observational evidence that supports your contention, but are only relying on something you read in a book.
In 1963 author Rachel Carson warned about the effects of pesticides and herbicides – especially the pesticide, DDT, in her book, The Silent Spring. Although it sparked a revolution in environmental policy and created a new ecological consciousness, it also enraged chemical industry scientists who dismissed her work. After all, DDT had done wonders to kill mosquitos and other insect pests from WWII on into the 1960s. But it also lingered, upsetting the balance of nature, killing birds and mammals and making people sick. DDT was ultimately outlawed.
The blowback from scientists
From the PBS website video: “Scientists for the chemical industry and the USDA were incensed by Carson’s assertions. They formed essentially a war council together to develop a propaganda campaign to discredit Carson, to discredit the Science in her book and to defend their practices.”
Historian David Kinkela reports, “There is this real tension between the chemical scientists as this sort of hyper-masculine lab intensive research that produces these wonderful technologies – and these scientists who work in Nature who examine issues over the long term, but who really aren’t scientists. They’re sort of like a cult. And having a woman at this particular moment being the lead spokesman of that kind of idea really chafed and made the chemical scientists really angry.”
One industry paper
was entitled, “Bias, Misinformation, Half-Truths Reduce Usefulness of ‘Silent Spring’. The large chemical company, Monsanto, spoofed the first chapter of Silent Spring with an animated cartoon that imagined and showed the dangers of what the world would be like without DDT and other pesticides – if one were to outlaw or restrict their usage, as other scientists supporting Carson were starting to report.
Historian Naomi Oreskes reports, “The idea that this woman with a Master’s Degree, that she knows something that ‘we’ don’t know… you just see their condescension towards her in their really dismissive approach and their misrepresentation of her work. They tried to accuse her of rejecting modernity, of being unrealistic, of wanting to ban all pesticides. None of which are true. But it’s a way to try to discredit her and it’s a way of not even having the argument.”
Geologist Marie Tharp discovered the mid-ocean mountain chain that encircles the world gleaned from data retrieved from sonar pings in the period after WW2. In other words, she had second hand observation. She never saw the mountain chain in a submersible. YouTube video here.
The blowback from scientists
According to Tharp, “The world reaction was: amazement, then skeptical, then scornful.”
As everyone knows, this find confirmed the earlier continental drift of Alfred Wegener, that was also ignored for decades and finally provided a mechanism for the hypothesis with Tharp’s data.
So, others have suffered blackwashing, too.
only to be vindicated later. It’s just part of the deal. Thank you for your continued support and readership as ReptileEvolution.com enters its sixth year.