Things scientists have dismissed



"A good example is provided by meteorites. Eighteenth-century English and French scientists rejected the ample testimony as to the reality of meteorites, as we reject stories of alien abduction. On 13 September 1768 a large meteorite fell... [in] Pays de la Loire. Numerous people (all of them peasants) saw it fall. Three members of the Royal Academy of Sciences (including young Lavoisier) were sent to investigate. They concluded that lightning had struck a lump of sandstone on the ground; the idea of rocks falling from outer space was simply ridiculous." -- David Wootton, The Invention of Science, p. 301

8 comments:

  1. I think they were right to make that conclusion at that point of time.

    A large number of people can attest an event. But human attestation is not evidence. Or at least highly reliable evidence. People testify to all sort of things, including weeping statues. In large numbers too. Just because they attest to it does not make it true.

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    1. Yes, maybe they were.

      However, the ONLY form of evidence is "human attestation." What else in the world could we possibly point to?

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    2. In reply to Gene: How do you figure that last part?

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    3. Well, name something that doesn't involve human attestation that we can point to as evidence!

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    4. DNA, photos, business records, fingerprints, and so forth seem like evidence without "human attestation".

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    5. So, DNA just enters itself in the court record? Fingerprints carry a criminal off to prison on their own, with no other human involvement?

      Samson, for a fingerprint to be evidence in a court of law, someone must ATTEST to the facts that:
      1) This fingerprint was found at the crime scene; and
      2) This fingerprint, in fact, belongs to Samson.

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  2. OK, maybe I meant to say human testimony?

    Unless you see the evidence yourself, can you truly rely on the word of other people?

    In New Delhi, there was an outbreak of mass histeria, when people began claiming to see a "monkeyman". Many many people claimed so, but no conclusive photograph or remains of a monkeyman were ever found.

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    1. I'm not saying we accept testimony uncritically. I'm saying ultimately it is all we have. (Including one's own testimony.)

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