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Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded scientific denier

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded scientific denier

There is a lesson here, it’s that we cannot allow science to become religion, and must always question scientific authority particularly when it is used for political purposes.

From The NY Times (emphasis mine):

Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman won the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals, a mosaic-like chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Shechtman’s discovery in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter. It initially faced strong objections from the scientific community, and even got him kicked out of his research group in the United States.   

Since then, quasicrystals have been produced in laboratories and a Swedish company found them in one of the most durable kinds of steel, which is now used in products such as razor blades and thin needles made specifically for eye surgery, the citation said.

I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Mr. Shechtman, as I have been the beneficiary of the “thin needles made specifically for eye surgery,” more often than I would have liked.  I thank him for not caving in to scientific consensus and correctness.

Twenty years from now, I wonder how many other scientific “deniers” will be proven to be correct.

Update:  In this video, Shechtman describes the scientific community’s hostile reaction, including calling him a “disgrace” and his theories “nonsense.”

Related:  Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Resigns Over Global Warming.


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Mr. Jacobson; multiple eye surgeries? May I ask what for?

Having had a detached retina and having eye surgery for same then I too probably owe this gentleman a THANK YOU for being a SCIENTIST and not a willow blowing in the wind.

This follows in the footsteps of Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren who won the the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of “the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease”

These guys were thrown out of scientific seminars, physically.

They claimed it was possible to cure peptic ulcers by a short regimen of antibiotics and acid secretion inhibitors. Their discovery flew in the face of Zantac, Tagamet and a whole host of over drugs that treated the symptoms and not the disease.

Science (Atomic Theory):
Everybody believes X. One person has a new theory Y. Everybody throws rocks.
Theory Y stands up to the rocks. Some people believe X, some Y.
Tests are done. Data is generated. People throw rocks at Data. Y stands up.
Many people believe Y. More data, more rocks, more Y.
Almost everybody believes Y. X believers stay on the porch, throw rocks at kids on their lawn.

Fraud (Scientology, Magnetic Jewelry, Crystal Healing, etc…):
Everybody believes X. One person comes up with Theory Y. Everybody throws rocks.
Theory Y crumbles. Bogus data is generated by Y people. Y claims Conspiracy of X.
Fake Y data used to make Y people happy. Y claims Government Bias on behalf of Rich X is keeping them down, con money out of ignorant people. X largely ignores Y as crackpots.

Giant Fraud (Global Warming):
Y believers use their fake data to convince governments to give them money, use threats and coercion against X. Generate even more fake data, have real data thrown out, insinuate themselves as guardians of truth, retaliate against any X believers. Continue building on fake Y data and studies, building the snowball until it all comes crashing down around their ears. Cash all those Y checks, retire.

Stop Global Continental Drift! Save Pangaea!

    The worst part is when they were all so caught up in which is right X or Y, that the crazies walked straight through the door and started implementing Z without any evidence that it would work and failing to realize the magnitude of the unintended consequences.

      ella8 in reply to ella8. | October 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      Z would be fine if it was free market not subsidized and forced, and if it did not require destroying W upon which people depend.

If you want to read an interesting story paralleling this one, look up and read about the scientist who tried to tell the world that ulcers were caused by a microorganism called heliobacter pylori. He was mocked and pilloried before his discovery was confirmed and accepted. Thus, yes, it has happened before and the world will continue to witness such behavior on the part of “experts” for as long as there are human beings on this planet.

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David R. Graham | October 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

“… we cannot allow science to become religion, ….”

We cannot allow religion to be come a religion.

Or politics to become a religion. Or art to become a religion. Or backpacking, cycling, finance, or earth or space or time or country or association or alma mater or anything else whatsoever in this breathing world to become a religion.

But how is one to not allow it? One cannot. Delusion and its offspring, jealousy, greed, hatred, gluttony, etc., overwhelm ordinary will and skill.

I think the only way to avoid or defeat idolatry is to be empty, and even that is a grace. Meanwhile, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have to be borne willy-nilly, because, who has a choice to avoid them? The great ones are those whose products, like Dr. Shechtman’s, demonstrate the power of life by surviving its blows.

First, consensus is a social construct. It has limited validity in the scientific process. The scientific counterpart is confirmation.

Second, it is highly undesirable to normalize scientific speculation based on limited, circumstantial evidence, especially when that restriction is permanent.

While science is not inherently a religion, it is a faith necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference.

For the continued well-being and long-term viability of humanity, let’s hope reality remains a fairly stable state with narrow variability.

I was reading an article in Frontpage Magazine by David Meir-Levi on US aid to Israel and came across the usual objections in the comments.
Now reading your post it comes across so strongly that had there been no aid it is highly unlikely that Israel and Israelis would have developed to return to the US all the technological advances which have so improved life for Americans and others.
Isn’t it about time that Americans are made aware of what they have garnered through investing in aid to Israel, apart from the political and military aspects?
Could have been worse like the 45 billion or so flowing to Mexico each year for gardening in California, or the 3+ billion per annum to Pakistan for the actions of its ISI.

    beloved2 in reply to Vascaino. | October 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    “…Isn’t it about time that Americans are made aware of what they have garnered through investing in aid to Israel, apart from the political and military aspects?
    Could have been worse like the 45 billion or so flowing to Mexico each year for gardening in California, or the 3+ billion per annum to Pakistan…”
    Your point, of course, is that the U.S. needs to continue supporting the only real democratic country in the Middle East, Israel. I totally agree and as you pointed out the disparity is huge between the little we have invested in Israel and that of the Muslim world.
    Out of a world population of 6 billion people,Jews are .2%
    minority. 181 Jews have received the Nobel Prize accounting for 22% of the total given. 6 Arab Muslims, 1 in Chemistry,one in Physics, 1 in Literature, and 3 won the Nobel Peace Prize including the terrorist Arafat. What has made the difference in accomplishments since antiSemitism has been rampant since antiquity and continues to be a problem. As you pointed out the accomplishments of the Jews in science has radically helped our world and made unbelievable progress in medicine.
    Here are a few other Jews whose intellectual output has enriched the whole humanity: Benjamin Rubin gave humanity the vaccinating needle. Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine. Alert Sabin developed the improved live polio vaccine. Gertrude Elion gave us a leukaemia fighting drug. Baruch Blumberg developed the vaccination for Hepatitis B. Paul Ehrlich discovered a treatment for syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease). Elie Metchnikoff won a Nobel Prize in infectious diseases.

    Bernard Katz won a Nobel Prize in neuromuscular transmission. Andrew Schally won a Nobel in endocrinology (disorders of the endocrine system; diabetes, hyperthyroidism). Aaron Beck founded Cognitive Therapy (psychotherapy to treat mental disorders, depression and phobias). Gregory Pincus developed the first oral contraceptive pill. George Wald won a Nobel for furthering our understanding of the human eye. Stanley Cohen won a Nobel in embryology (study of embryos and their development). Willem Kolff came up with the kidney dialysis machine.

    Stanley Mezor invented the first micro-processing chip. Leo Szilard developed the first nuclear chain reactor. Peter Schultz, optical fibre cable; Charles Adler, traffic lights; Benno Strauss, Stainless steel; Isador Kisee, sound movies; Emile Berliner, telephone microphone and Charles Ginsburg, videotape recorder.

    Famous leaders in the business world who belong to Jewish faith include Ralph Lauren (Polo), Levis Strauss (Levi’s Jeans), Howard Schultz (Starbuck’s), Sergey Brin (Google), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Donna Karan (DKNY), Irv Robbins (Baskins & Robbins) and Bill Rosenberg (Dunkin Donuts). Richard Levin, President of Yale University, is a Jew. So are Henry Kissinger (American secretary of state), Alan Greenspan (fed chairman under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush), Joseph Lieberman, Maxim Litvinov (USSR foreign Minister), David Marshal (Singapore’s first chief minister), Issac Isaacs (governor-general of Australia), Benjamin Disraeli (British statesman and author), Yevgeny Primakov (Russian PM), John Deutsch (CIA director), Herb Gray (Canadian deputy PM), Pierre Mendes (French PM), Michael Howard (British home secretary), Bruno Kreisky (chancellor of Austria) and Robert Rubin (American secretary of treasury).

    Read more:

I’ll never understand how anyone can feel so threatened by an idea or differing opinion. I just can’t fathom it.

What a Mensch. I love how he describes the shabby treatment he received from colleagues … with a smile!

Hope your eyes are in good health, Professor. My nephew has also had multiple eye surgeries since he was a little boy … and is looking at another one in the near future.

On behalf of my sweet nephew, Thank you, Mr. Shechtman !!!

LukeHandCool (who loves people who do not fear being humiliated by their peers … when they believe in something to be true and right).

theduchessofkitty | October 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

“Shechtman describes the scientific community’s hostile reaction, including calling him a “disgrace” and his theories “nonsense.””

Memo to the “Scientific Community”: Who’s laughing now?


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