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Controversial scientists

I'm currently reading a book called "Wilhelm Reich In Hell" by Robert Anton Wilson, and in the introduction he mentions some controversial scientists who, like Dr. Wilhelm Reich, had problems with the US government censoring their work and/or legal battles with the US. (Wilhelm Reich, in particular, had all his books and notes seized and burned by the US government in 1957.) I'm already familiar with Dr. Timothy Leary and his work, as well as with Immanuel Velikovsky. However, there are a couple here that I'm not familiar with and am having trouble finding information about:

* Dr. William Ivy, "formerly a respected physician and a member of the staff of University of Chicago Medical School, was engaged in an extensive legal battle, which lasted eight years and cost him a small fortune, before he was vindicated."

* Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist. A British scientific journal called Nature suggested, in the early '80s, that his books should be burned.

That's all the information I have about them so far. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks much!


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
RAW talks about Ivy in Prometheus Rising as well - "Shortly thereafter, Dr. William Ivy, former head of a department at Chicago Medical School, was subjected to ten years of legal harassment for espousing a radical cancer cure. More recently, Dr. Timothy Leary was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment for espousing controversial ideas about neurotransmitter chemicals and reimprinting the nervous system. Now there is a war on against holistic physicians." - pg 248, Prometheus Rising

Sheldrake thinks that plants and animals use telepathy...
his view: http://www.sheldrake.org/controversies/
his critics: http://www.csicop.org/si/2000-09/staring.html

I personally think Sheldrake and Reich were deluded at the end of their careers - and I don't know enough about Ivy to say, but miracle cancer cures tend to dissuade people from using conventional medicine, which is getting better and better at treating it, so I suspect I would rail against him as well... but I certainly agree with RAW's next paragraph - "It does not matter whether any or all of these "heretics" were right or wrong. Scientific truth is only determined after a generation or more of research; it is not determined by throwing the dissenters in prison or burning their books."
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
I fail to see a difference between telepathy and some of the ideas that Quantum Physics has been espousing, like non-locality. I fail to understand why scientists can talk about non-local causality and be considered good scientists, but someone talks about telepathy and they're labeled a quack. It's all semantics, as far as I'm concerned.
Jun. 6th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Non-local causality is a hypothesis that has been proposed as an interpretation of Maxwell's equations. It is taken for what it is - a possible interpretation of equations, much in the same way that parallel worlds are taken. Even string theory is not taken very seriously by the scientific community at large.

Few would call them a quack if well-respected equations implied that some form of telepathy exists, or if telepathy could be reproduced in a double-blind experiment... by many different scientists.
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm not going to read anything by CSICOP. They are the scientific equivalent of Jerry Falwell and Benny Hinn.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Re: PS
I'm not so open-minded that my brain falls out. Besides, it's not that I won't read something written by a skeptic, but I can't stand to read anything dogmatic, regardless of the philosophy it espouses. I just don't like the energy of dogmatism, it is the energy equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me.
Jun. 6th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Re: PS
"If we only ever read what we agree with, we will learn and grow at a very slow rate." - you, 5 hours before you typed this.
Jun. 8th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Re: PS
Jun. 6th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
Well, sometimes the cranks really *are* cranks.

Velikovsky and von Daniken are classic examples. They *sound* plausible. Until you look into the details that they gloss over.

Edited at 2008-06-06 06:32 am (UTC)
Jun. 8th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Oy! Don't put Velikovsky and von Daniken together like that! I like Velikovsky's stuff, can't stand von Daniken. Aliens invading Earth, give me a break! I believe aliens exist, but even if they had FTL speed technology, Earth has nothing interesting on it, to outsiders. Unless they'd heard how crazy humans were and came to see for themselves.

Another reason I don't like von Daniken is because he claimed that Charles Hapgood said, in "Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings," that those ancient maps could only have been made with the help of aerial photography. Hapgood has never said anything of the sort, nor implied anything like that. Von Daniken was making claims about Hapgood's books without ever having read it first.

Edited at 2008-06-08 02:05 am (UTC)
Jun. 8th, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
Velikovsky plays some word games that show either massive ignorance or an attempt to pull the wool over the reader's eyes.

I was impressed when I read him in 5th grade. Not so impressed when I learned more science.

Among other things, unless it *was* a supernatural event, stopping the Earth's rotation so the sun would stand still for Joshua just *ain't* gonna happen. Or rather, if it had, there'd be some very obvious traces left.

One of the word games involves talking about "carbon & hydrogen gases" (and from context, he's talking about the hydrocarbons that were once thought to be part of the Venerian atmosphere) and then having them precipitate as carbohydrates (the "manna" the Israelites ate in the desert).

Hydrocarbons are stuff like oil, methane, waxes & greases. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches. *very* different chemical structures and it's a royal pain getting from the hydrocarbons to the carbohydrates.

Edited at 2008-06-08 10:23 am (UTC)
Jun. 9th, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
I've been hearing about Velikovsky from someone else recently, too, and if even half of what they say is true about his theories, then I agree he's a bit looney. But just because I disagree with Freud doesn't mean I disbelieve all psychology. So the fact that Velikovsky's theories are nuts in some ways doesn't change my mind about catastrophism. At least, from the point of view of Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. "Uriel's Machine" is VERY well written, and very scientific. Even Alex is convinced. We don't agree about their "mitochondrial Eve" theory, but the rest of it seems sound.

Edited at 2008-06-09 09:52 am (UTC)
Jun. 10th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
You have to keep in mind that details matter.

You also have to keep in mind that the common meaning of "theory" as not what the word means in scientific discussions. What Joe Average thinks when he hears "theory" is *at best* what a scientist would call a hypothesis. Often it's not even rigorous enough to qualify for that label.

That, btw, is a common tactic of folks like creationists. They take advantage of the fact that most people don't understand that in Science a "theory" is not a "guess", but rather A carefully set out set of "rules" that have been extensively tested and passed the tests

Jun. 9th, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
Among other things, unless it *was* a supernatural event, stopping the Earth's rotation so the sun would stand still for Joshua just *ain't* gonna happen. Or rather, if it had, there'd be some very obvious traces left.

Velikovsky is sounding more and more like Freud, only worse. Oy vey, THIS is the guy who started Catastrophism? No wonder the whole theory is considered nuts by most people. Jeez...
Jun. 10th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Started catastrophism? Hardly. Tried to *revive* it is more like it. Catastrophism was the accepted theory until folks started really looking into geology. Took a long time for gradualism to catch on (mostly because most folks didn't want to give up the 6000 year old Earth from the Bible.

And that's why things like the dinosaur extinction via asteroid strike is *still* somewhat suspect.

Heck, I recall when plate tectonics was a crazy theory.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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