Russell Gmirkin wrote: ↑Wed Mar 15, 2023 6:40 pm
Stephen Goranson’s approach to my research is highly reminiscent, in my opinion, of contemporary responses to Galileo’s research in the early 1600s. You will recall, Galileo was a scientific innovator, a mathematicus who wrote a number of books regarding discoveries he made by means of telescopic observations: the mountains of the moon, the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus (which proved the orbit of Venus around the sun), and several others. He was an advocate of the heliocentric model of the solar system, a paradigm that ran counter to the Ptolemaic geocentric paradigm of the Catholic Church and contemporary university scholarship that held the earth to be the center of the universe. He famously had debates with his fellow scholars and with the Church, and was tried more than once by the Inquisition, who finally forced him in 1633 to renounce on pain of death his heretical scientific discoveries that ran counter to biblical teachings and Catholic doctrine, and to abstain from teaching his heliocentric views. He remained under house arrest from 1633 until his death in 1642.
His views quite obviously did not change the majority views of his contemporaries, but are now universally accepted. Why? Because they were right, and he had the evidence to prove it.
But who accepted the evidence during his lifetime? Basically, one could divide up his contemporary into two opposing camps: those who looked at his evidence, and those who did not. Kepler and other astronomers, of course, agreed with his conclusions. Jesuit astronomers, though initially skeptical and quite hostile to his scientific viewpoint, which ran counter to Church teachings, were won over, for a very simple reason: they obtained quality telescopes, they checked his observations, and confirmed that he was in fact correct.
The other group included prominent theologians, philosophers (that is, natural philosophers) and other scholars. These educated elites (or shall we say elitists) rejected his views because of their adherence to Aristotelian philosophy, Ptolemaic astronomy and Catholic doctrine. Quite famously, and not coincidentally, they adamantly refused to look through Galileo’s telescope to see for themselves the evidence he put forward in his books, despite given the opportunity. Galileo wrote about them as follows in a famous letter to Kepler:
My dear Kepler, I wish that we might laugh at the remarkable stupidity of the common herd. What do you have to say about the principal philosophers of this academy who are filled with the stubbornness of an asp and do not want to look at either the planets, the moon or the telescope, even though I have freely and deliberately offered them the opportunity a thousand times? Truly, just as the asp stops its ears, so do these philosophers shut their eyes to the light of truth.
One of Galileo’s contemporaries, the Aristotelian philosopher Cesare Cremonini of the University of Padua, after hearing of Galileo’s claim to have seen mountains on the moon, refused to look at the moon through a telescope. Later sources quoted him as saying:
I do not wish to approve of claims about which I do not have any knowledge, and about things which I have not seen … and then to observe through those glasses gives me a headache. Enough! I do not want to hear anything more about this.
One can thus trace exactly how Galileo’s opponents, including prominent academics of his day, were able to maintain their opposition to his paradigm-changing views: by refusing to view the evidence. And rejecting his dangerous theories on that basis.
Although Stephen Goranson is nowhere remotely in the same league as the scholastics and intellectuals of Galileo’s day, he resorts to the same stratagem, staunchly refusing to read the books he arrogantly claims to refute. Evidently reading a book gives him the same headache Cremonini claimed he got from looking through a telescope. I suspect tracing an academic argument from evidence to conclusion (such as I carefully present in all my books and articles) would give him a splitting migraine.
He sees himself as a defender of scholastic orthodoxy and believes that truth is measured, not by evidence and argument, but by a show of hands.
Tell me, Stephen, exactly how that model applies to the time of Galileo.
Or do you believe the sun circles the earth, based on the majority opinion of those of Galileo’s day?
Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.