1. Belief that theories
determine phenomena, rather than the reverse.
“The phenomenon you have
observed is impossible, crazy stuff. We know of no mechanism
which could explain your results, so we have grave
suspicions about the accuracy your report. There is no room
for your results in modern theory, so they simply cannot
You are obviously the victim of errors, hoaxers, or
self-delusion. We need not publish your paper, and any
attempts at replicating your results would be a waste of
time. Your requests for funding are misguided, and should be
2. Erecting barriers against
new ideas by constantly altering the requirements for
acceptance. (A practice called “moving the goalposts.”)
“I’ll believe it when ‘X’
happens” (but when it does, this immediately is changed to:
I’ll believe it when ‘Y’ happens.)
“I won’t believe it until major laboratories
publish papers in this field. They have? That means nothing!
Major labs have been wrong before.
I’ll believe it when
stores sell products which use the effect. They do? That
means nothing, after all, stores sell magic healing pendants
and Ouija boards. I’ll believe it when a Nobel Prize winning
researcher gets behind that work. One has? Well that means
That person is probably old and dotty like Dr.
Pauling and his vitamin-C...” etc.
3. Belief that fundamental
concepts in science rarely change, coupled with a “herd
following” behavior where the individual changes his/her
opinions when colleagues all do, all the while remaining blind
to the fact that any opinions had ever changed.
“The study of (space flight,
endosymbiosis, drillcore bacteria, child abuse, cold fusion,
etc.) has always been a legitimate pursuit.
ever ridiculed the reported evidence or tried to stop such
research, it certainly was not a majority of scientists. It
must have been just a few misguided souls, and must have
happened in the distant past.”
4. Belief that science is
guided by consensus beliefs and majority rule, rather than by
Indulging in behavior which reinforces the negative
effects of consensus beliefs while minimizing the impact of any
evidence which contradicts those beliefs.
“I don’t care how good your
evidence is, I won’t believe it until the majority of
scientists also find it acceptable. Your evidence cannot be
right, because it would mean that hundreds of textbooks and
thousands of learned experts are wrong.
5. Adopting a prejudiced
stance against a theory or an observed phenomena without first
investigating the details, then using this as justification for
refusing to investigate the details.
“Your ideas are obviously
garbage. What, try to replicate your evidence? I wouldn’t
soil my hands. And besides, it would be a terrible waste of
time and money, since there’s no question about the
6. Maintaining an unshakable
stance of hostile, intolerant skepticism, and when anyone
complains of this, accusing them of paranoid delusion.
blind to scientists’ widespread practice of intellectual
suppression of unorthodox findings, and to the practice of
“expulsion of heretics” through secret, back-room accusations of
deviance or insanity.
“You say that no one will listen
to your ideas, and now the funding for your other projects
is cut off for no reason? And colleagues are secretly
passing around a petition demanding that you be removed? If
you’re thinking along THOSE lines, then you obviously are
delusional and should be seeking professional help.”
7. Ignoring the lessons of
history, and therefore opening the way for repeating them again
“Scientists of old ridiculed the
germ theory, airplanes, space flight, meteors, etc. They
were certain that science of the time had everything figured
out, and that major new discoveries were no longer possible.
Isn’t it good that we researchers of today are much more
wise, and such things can no longer happen!”
8. Denial of the lessons of
history. An inability to admit that science has made serious
mistakes in the past.
Maintaining a belief that good ideas and
discoveries are never accidentally suppressed by
closed-mindedness, then revising history to fit this belief.
“Throughout history, the
majority of scientists never ridiculed flying machines,
spacecraft, television, continental drift, reports of ball
lightning, meteors, sonoluminescence, etc.
are not examples of so-called ‘paradigm shifts’, they are
obvious examples of the slow, steady, forward progress made
9. Using circular arguments
to avoid accepting evidence which supports unusual discoveries,
or to prevent publication of this evidence.
“I do not have to inspect the
evidence because I know it’s wrong. I know it’s wrong
because I’ve never seen any positive evidence.”
“We will not publish your paper, since these results have
not been replicated by any other researchers. We will not
publish your paper, since it is merely a replication of work
which was done earlier, by other researchers.”
10. Accusing opponents of
delusion, lying, or even financial fraud, where no evidence for
fraud exists other than the supposed impossibility of evidence
“Don’t trust researchers who
study parapsychology. They constantly cheat and lie in order
to support their strange worldviews.
Very few of them have
been caught at it, but it’s not necessary to do so, since
any fool can see that the positive evidence for psi can only
be created by people who are either disturbed or dishonest.
11. Unwarranted confidence
that the unknown is in the far distance, not staring us in the
“Your evidence cannot be real
because it’s not possible that thousands of researchers
could have overlooked it for all these years. If your
discovery was real, the scientists who work in that field
would already know about it.”
12. Belief that certain
fields of science are complete, that scientific revolutions
never happen, and that any further progress must occur only in
brushing up the details.
“Physics is a mature field.
Future progress can only lie in increasing the energies of
particle accelerators, and in refining the precision of
well-known measurements. Your discovery cannot be true,
since it would mean we’d have to throw out all our hard-won
knowledge about physics.”
13. Excusing the ridicule,
trivialization, and the scorn which is directed at ‘maverick’
ideas and at anomalous evidence. Insisting that sneering and
derisive emotional attacks constitute a desirable and properly
scientific natural selection force.
“It is right that new
discoveries be made to overcome large barriers. That way
only the good ideas will become accepted.
If some important
discoveries are suppressed in this process, well, that’s
just the price we have to pay to defend science against the
fast-growing hoards of crackpots who threaten to destroy
14. Justifying any refusal to
inspect evidence by claiming a “slippery slope.” Using the
necessary judicious allocation of time and funding as a weapon
to prevent investigation of unusual, novel, or threatening
“If we take your unlikely
discovery seriously, all scientists everywhere will have to
accept every other crackpot idea too, and then we’ll waste
all of our time checking out crackpot claims.”
15. A blindness to phenomena
which do not fit the current belief system, coupled with a
denial that beliefs affect perceptions.
“Thomas Kuhn’s ‘paradigm shifts’
and sociology’s ‘cognitive dissonance’ obviously do not
apply to average, rational scientists. Scientists are
objective, so they are not prone to the psychological
failings which plague normal humans.
welcome any data which indicates a need to revise their
current knowledge. Their “beliefs” don’t affect their
perceptions, scientists don’t have “beliefs”, science is not
16. A belief that all
scientific progress is made by small, safe, obvious steps, that
widely-accepted theories are never overturned, and that no new
discoveries come from anomalies observed.
“All your observations are
They couldn’t possibly be real, because
if they were real, it would mean that major parts of current
science are wrong, and we would have to rewrite large
portions of we know about physics. This never occurs.
Science proceeds by building on earlier works, never by
tearing them down. Therefore it is right that we reject
evidence which contradicts contemporary theory, and
recommend that funding of such research not be continued.”
17. Hiding any evidence of
personal past ridicule of ideas which are later proved valid.
Profound narcissism; an extreme need to always be right, a fear
of having personal errors revealed, and a habit of silently
covering up past mistakes.
“ X is obviously ridiculous, and
its supporters are crack-pots who are giving us a bad name
and should be silenced.”
But if X is proved true, the assertion suddenly becomes:
“Since ‘X’ is obviously true, it follows that...”
18. Belief in the lofty
status of modern science but with consequent blindness to, and
denial of, its faults. A tendency to view shameful events in the
history of modern science as being beneficial, and a lack of any
desire to fix contemporary problems.
“It was right that Dr. Wegner’s
career was wrecked; that he was treated as a crackpot,
ridiculed, and died in shame. His evidence for continental
drift convinced no one. And besides, he did not propose a
mechanism to explain the phenomena.”
19. A belief that Business
and the Press have no tendency towards close-mindedness and
suppression of novelty, and that their actions are never guided by the publicly-expressed judgment of scientists.
“If the Wright Brothers’ claims
were true, we would be reading about it in all the papers,
and flying-machine companies would be springing up left and
right. Neither of these is occurring, therefore the Wright’s
claims are obviously a lie and a hoax.
20. Refusing to be swayed
when other researchers find evidence supporting unconventional
phenomena or theories.
If other reputable people change sides
and accept the unorthodox view, this is seen as evidence of
their gullibility or insanity, not as evidence that perhaps the
unconventional view is correct.
“I’ll believe it when someone
like Dr. P believes it.”
But when Dr. P changes sides, this becomes: “Dr. P did some
great work in his early years, but then he destroyed his
career by getting involved with that irrational crackpot
21. Elevating skepticism to a
lofty position, yet indulging in hypocrisy and opening the way
to pathological thinking by refusing to ever cast a critical,
SKEPTICAL eye upon the irrational behavior of scoffers.
“Criticizing skeptics is never
beneficial. It even represents a danger to science. One
should never criticize science, it just gives ammunition to
the enemy; it aids the irrational, anti-science hoards who
would destroy our fragile edifice.”
22. Belief that modern
scientists as a group lack faults, and therefore clinging to any
slim justifications in order to ignore the arguments of those
who hope to eliminate the flaws in Science.
“I think we can safely ignore
Thomas Kuhn’s STRUCTURES OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS. Despite
his physics training we can see that Kuhn was an outsider to
science; he obviously doesn’t have a good grasp on real
science. Outsiders never can see things in the proper
positive light, it takes a working scientist to see the real
Also, he stressed his central themes way too
much, so I think we can ignore him as simply being a
sensationalist. And besides, if he’s digging up dirt
regarding science, then he must have a hidden agenda.
we’ll find that he’s a Christian or something, probably a
23. Blindness to the
widespread existence of the above symptoms. Belief that
scientists are inherently objective, and rarely fall victim to
Excusing the frequent appearance of these symptoms
as being isolated instances which do not comprise an
accumulation of evidence for the common practice of Pathological
“This ‘Pathological Skepticism’
does not exist. Kooks and crackpots deserve the hostile
mistreatment we give them, but anyone who does similar
things to skeptics is terribly misguided.
Those who criticize skeptics are a danger to Science itself,
and we must stop them."