Making science (part IX): The process of acceptance of scientific theories

Novel scientific propositions are initially taken with skepticism. Eventually, they become accepted –at least some of them. The transition between heressy and main stream has been debated ad nauseam. British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) has been famous for many things, one among them was his incisive sarcasm. Haldane was an assiduous contributor to the Journal of Gentics, not only of scientific articles, but often many book reviews. One of those reviews, published in 1963 (Journal of Genetics Vol. 58, page 464), is perhaps the best known among the lot, not because of the book being reviewed, but because of Haldane’s now famous description of the stages in the process of acceptance of scientific theories. In Haldane’s words, theories invariably pass through “the “usual four stages”:

1. worthless nonsense
2. interesting, but perverse
3. true, but quite unimportant
4. I always said so

Kudos to Haldane for his sharp insight into the scientific process, which the passage of time has only helped to confirm.

I always said so!

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