Monday, February 20, 2012

Newtonian physics deniers

One of the characteristics of the scientific method is its willingness to accept new evidence, even if that evidence casts doubts on what were previously considered to be established truths of science.

For two hundred years Newtonian physics was accepted as the explanation for the way the physical world works. In the late 19th century the work of a number of scientists, scientists such as Max Planck, began to undermine this impressive edifice. So what happened to Max Planck? They gave him a Nobel Prize. The German Physical Society named the Max Planck Medal for him - one of the most prestigious of all prizes awarded to theoretical physicists.

Albert Einstein was another physicist whose work on quantum mechanics and relativity put the final nail in the coffin of Newtonian physics. He picked up a Nobel Prize as well.

It’s significant that there was no attempt made to stop such scientists from publishing papers that questioned scientific orthodoxies. These scientists were not labelled as “Newtonian physics deniers” and were not told that their work was unnecessary because “the science is settled.”

Of course the difference is that Newtonian physics was a scientific theory, not a political ideology. And there is not the slightest doubt that climate change is a political ideology.

How has science become so politicised?

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