Does this treatment sound familiar?

Yeah, consensus science never fails.

The shy, 70-year-old Shechtman said he never doubted his findings and considered himself merely the latest in a long line of scientists who advanced their fields by challenging the conventional wisdom and were shunned by the establishment because of it.

“I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying,” he recalled. “I never took it personally. I knew I was right and they were wrong.”

Full story here at Yahoo News.

Congratulations for winning the Nobel Prize, and for having the courage and stamina to stick it out Dr. Shechtman. I hope you will be an inspiration to many others to not let the intimidation of closed minded peers wear you down. Science self-corrects, sometimes taking years to do so and we are witnessing the self correction of climate science consensus slowly take place before our own eyes.

Thanks to Mary Friederichs who submitted the story via our web interface.

======================

UPDATE: R. Gates provides this video in comments:

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106 thoughts on “Does this treatment sound familiar?

  1. “Dr Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science to convince others of what he had first seen in his lab on an April morning in 1982.”

    This battle against the consensus sounds familiar.

  2. Dr. Shechtman deserves two Nobels:

    One for disregarding a consensus, like a true scientist, and another for his work. As to all the psudo-scientists that conform to consensus, they should be stripped of their letters until they attend a remedial course on the scientific method and principals. Naked men – all of them! GK

  3. There’s no parallel here at all. Global Warming must be true because there’s a super-duper consensus. Besides, that fact that people like Mann bring in millions in research grants proves his science is the Truth.

    /sarc

  4. From the Yahoo article: “Only later did some scientists go back to some of their own inexplicable findings and realize they had seen quasicrystals without understanding what were looking at, Jackson said.”

    That reminds me of Charles Moore, the inventor of Forth and later chip designer. He loves to tinker with the analog effects you observe in digital circuitry. Usually these reflections are regarded as disturbance and chip designers try to suppress them but Moore invents new stuff with it. He takes what is thrown at him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Moore

  5. Anthony–I’m proud to have sent this story to your website. Dr. Shechtman is a true scientist and I’m happy he has been vindicated. You and your readers/commenters have educated me for more than 2 years –thank you all!!

  6. He should not have been ridiculed, but on the other hand, until his findings could be replicated, neither should his results been accepted. Consensus has its uses. However, it should be based on observations, not models.

  7. John Marshall – NP 2005, Medicine – Heliobactor Pylori. Cause of stomach ulcers. Also considered a “radical”.

  8. Funnily enough, climate scientists still see themselves as the anti-establishment hero working to save a disbelieving society.

    I’m pretty sure this is how they justify bending the rules.

  9. vboring says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm
    “Funnily enough, climate scientists still see themselves as the anti-establishment hero working to save a disbelieving society.”

    They’re not dumb enough to not notice that their school completely dominates all the institutes. Presenting themselves as anti-establishment is only a facade created by their PR agencies. You see in the climategate e-mails that they’re VERY aware of their dominance over the peer-reviewed literature.

  10. Another example is Peter Mitchell who proposed the chemisosmotic model for ATP synthesis. To pursue his research, he left academia, renovated a mansion which held a lab, and founded a charitable foundation to fund the research.

  11. It makes me think of my two attempts here to reveil the fact that Switzerland as well as Austria as well as Varoe Radio station at Finnmark (Norway, within polar circle) had stations that have registered record high average temperatures for September. This news is neglected but one day snow in the Alps in September however (yes the same month) was brought as breaking news at front page of this website!
    What about this Mr. Anthony Watts? Might we – although of a different order – call this a real (or actually better) parallel?

  12. Sounds like the chap who insisted that bacteria had a role in stomach ulcers. They excoriated him for a long, long time. They were, of course, wrong. Science is about having open minds and closed mouths. The only time you open your mouth is to announce a verifiable result.

  13. Shameless plug of thirteen lessons from Schechtman’s story, following an article by Haaretz:
    “Unchallengeable basic tenets” must be considered as transient in any scientific field
    Any scientific field that is considered “closed”, “solid”, “total” is ripe for a revolution that will still be burning decades later
    New discoveries are surrounded by suspicion and ridicule, accompanied by outright rationalized dismissals
    It doesn’t matter if you can show people your discovery. It doesn’t matter if they can replicate your discovery in their own lab. Many will still refuse to believe it. We have not moved an inch since the times of Galileo and telescope-denier Cesare Cremonini
    Many of them will change their mind only if the discovery is demonstrated using their old techniques
    Scientists-discoverers don’t keep their techniques secret
    Many discoveries are observed for many years, before somebody realizes there is a new discovery to be made of those observations
    Scientists-discoverers are worried about losing their job because of their discovery
    And rightly so
    They are even worried of being unable to find any job because of their discovery
    You need at least two Professors to support the article describing the discovery, before it passes so-called “peer” review
    The famous, influential, powerful people invited to deliver the keynote addresses at scientific conferences, they are very likely wrong on any new topic
    We have no idea how many Schechtman’s will forever remain unknown, because they didn’t have the luck and the guts to persevere the way Shechtman did

  14. Dr Shechtman ,

    Congratulations on your Nobel Prize in chemistry.

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey with us.

    John

  15. “A good scientist is a humble and listening scientist and not one that is sure 100 percent in what he read in the textbooks,” [Nobel Prize in chemistry winner Dan] Shechtman said.

    (from an AP article written by Aron Heller)

    ————–

    That is a remarkable quote by Dr Shechtman. For me it will provide an effective cautionary warning against all PNS and consensus based quasi-scientific bureaucracies like the IPCC.

    John

  16. These kinds of stories of long awaited vindication are truly inspiring. They make you cheer out loud.

  17. Scarface says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Svensmark anyone?

    First : Grats to Shechtman! Courage of ones convictions when the world is against you as in this case should be rewarded.

    I remember the section in a video where Svensmark was heckled like a bad comic right in the middle of his presentation. And then to have the revered head of the IPCC slam him to boot!

    Does anyone remember the Cloud Chamber Experiment with a small radioactive source in High School? Millions saw that experiment and never made the connection. I hope his vindication rises to level of Shechtman.

  18. It also makes you wonder how the folks running the Nobel organization for Sciences can get it so right, but the folks at the Nobel for Peace, hmmm not so much…

  19. Congratulations Dr. Dan Shechtman, not just for your remarkable discovery but for having the balls to fight for what you knew was right.

    I wish some of the IPCC climate science brigade would have some of your strength to stand up and be counted. Not just about the science, but the cargo cult methods used to support the conjecture of CAGW. One man of integrity can change the world.

  20. Anybody notice it was the American scientific community that originally rejected him? We’ve got the government so much into research in this country that the bureaucratic mindset is polluting our efforts. Which is how people like James Hansen and Michael Mann can thrive.

  21. One of my favorite Sarah Williams poems:
    The Old Astronomer to His Pupil

    Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
    When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
    He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
    We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

    Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
    Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
    And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
    And the obliquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

    But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
    You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
    What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and smiles;
    What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

    You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
    But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
    Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
    I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. .

  22. jorgekafkazar says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    We need another prize for such cases, the Vavilov Prize.
    _________________________________________________________________

    Agreed.

    At least Dr. Shechtman was not murdered.

  23. Max Hugoson says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    “John Marshall – NP 2005, Medicine – Heliobactor Pylori. Cause of stomach ulcers. Also considered a “radical”.”
    ________________________________________________________

    He was the first person I thought of too. At least we still have some true scientists around among all the errrr, I can not think of a polite phrase….

  24. According to Fox News Linus Pailing mocked him as a “quasi scientist” and that quasicrystals were impossible. Science had settled the matter don’t you know.

  25. Challenging the conventional wisdom is most often, the best way to challenge the conventional wisdom. The other option could be to shoot the conventional wisdom in the face, but that’s not getting you anywhere.

  26. I was fortunate to hear a lecture he gave several years ago. Very inspirational and a fascinating person. Here’s a nice Youtube video on his findings:

  27. The best is the story about Linus Pauling. Max Planck’s witticism that “science advances one funeral at a time” is wonderfully demonstrated. The great men of science are truly dangerous.

    Shechtman, who also teaches at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, said he never wavered even in the face of stiff criticism from double Nobel winner Linus Pauling, who never accepted Shechtman’s findings.

    “He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.'” Shechtman said. “He really was a great scientist, but he was wrong. It’s not the first time he was wrong.”

  28. I heard a great comment by a lunar scientist friend of mine yesterday after saying that he had looked at over two years of radar data from the Moon.

    There are things that we know are true about the Moon that are absolutely wrong.

    He was one of the early supporters of lots of water on the Moon as well and took years of abuse for it. He has only been vindicated for that in the last couple of years.

  29. Alfred Wegener was opposed by a “consensus of scientists” for his theory of continental drift.

    Celia Payne-Gaposchkin was opposed by a “consensus of scientists” for proposing that our sun was made up primarily of hydrogen, not iron.

    There are many other examples.

    Tim

  30. Yes, yes, sometimes people are right even though everyone thought they were wrong. But just because everyone thinks you’re wrong, it doesn’t mean you’re right. The vast majority of the time, when everyone thinks you’re wrong, it’s because you’re wrong.

    REPLY: Well if traffic and public opinion polls on AGW are any indication Stevo, the majority thinks you are your buds at SkS are wrong, and it is now becoming the “vast majority of the time” So when is SkS going to respond to my offer, or is John Cook and Dana1981 simply going to cover their ears and go lalalalalalalal! so they can keep insulting people by calling them deniers? – Anthony

  31. A surprisingly thoughtful commentary on consensus in Nature of all places. Even more surprising, it’s not paywalled.

    The very idea that science best expresses its authority through consensus statements is at odds with a vibrant scientific enterprise. Consensus is for textbooks; real science depends for its progress on continual challenges to the current state of always-imperfect knowledge. Science would provide better value to politics if it articulated the broadest set of plausible interpretations, options and perspectives, imagined by the best experts, rather than forcing convergence to an allegedly unified voice.

    (Let’s be careful how we embrace this, lest the editor have to resign.)

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111005/full/478007a.html

  32. I want an anti-prize bestowed on those who act hostile to individuals such as this in this manner.
    I say if you managed to win a nobel prize in a science for discovering something new, those who ostracized you should be stripped of any scientific awards they’ve received.

    This closed-minded behavior has to be discouraged somehow.

  33. @vboring says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm
    “Funnily enough, climate scientists still see themselves as the anti-establishment hero working to save a disbelieving society.
    I’m pretty sure this is how they justify bending the rules.”

    You’ve nailed it! They see themselves as Schechtmen. They don’t see themselves as the close-minded consensus, though that clearly is what they are.

  34. I had posted this earlier: (A Prophet without honour?)

    “This year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to an Israeli scientist who “fought a fierce battle against established science” .. the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.”

    “fought a fierce battle against established science” .. hmmm… seems to be a not uncommon thing in science.

    Like established science said stress causes ulcers and not bacteria.

    Turned out that ulcers cause stress and not the other way round and that ulcers were caused by something entirely different – the h pylori bacteria.

    Sound similar to the anthropogenic CO2 story?

  35. “(Let’s be careful how we embrace this, lest the editor have to resign.)”

    The author still implies the IPCC’s main selling point is correct though.

  36. Tom Jones says:
    October 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    “He [Pauling] would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’” Shechtman said. “He [Pauling] really was a great scientist, but he [Pauling} was wrong. It’s not the first time he [Pauling} was wrong.”

    …like his [Pauling's] entire new age belief in vitamin C and its so-called incredible powers…

    Excuse me while I take my ginko-bilbao, fish oil, condroitin, echinachea, wheat grass, fruit juice, asa, cocktail… ;-)

  37. Maryf says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm
    Anthony–I’m proud to have sent this story to your website. Dr. Shechtman is a true scientist and I’m happy he has been vindicated. You and your readers/commenters have educated me for more than 2 years –thank you all

    Mary, thank you for bringing this story to WUWT. I found it fascinating and at the same time inspiring that someone could stick to what they believe in, despite criticism from their peers.
    I wish the same could be said for the advocates of AGW, who should also be educated by WUWT.

    Unfortunately education rarely affects bigotry.

  38. The names of the people who gave Dr. Shechtman a hard time and ridiculed him, should be published as a lesson for others who are wrong.

  39. Yes, this happened to my wife and I took her Pop to a Gastro-enterologist , Who called the
    Heilobactor idea “Hokum” he got insulted when we wanted a referral to a Doctor who thought
    Marshall was on the right track. We actually were banned from the clinic Dr. Klown was in…
    All because my wife said “I have read about…”

    Gail Combs says:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Max Hugoson says:
    October 5, 2011 at 2:55 p

    “John Marshall – NP 2005, Medicine – Heliobactor Pylori. Cause of stomach ulcers. Also considered a “radical”.”

  40. The lesson from this is that neither “Everyone thinks you’re wrong, so you’re wrong.” nor “Everyone thinks your right, so you’re right.” are logical arguments.

  41. As a graduate of Iowa State University (Mechanical Engineering), I am very proud of Dr. Shechtman and my old alma mater. Well done!

  42. Another example:
    Dr. Judah Folkman and his theories regarding tumor angiogenesis.
    The medical community treated him very badly for his “radical” ideas.

  43. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For everyone who thinks that they are Galileo (or Dan Schechtman), there are probably a thousand who thinks they are but ain’t. So, those aren’t great odds.

    Other lessons: If you are persistent and pursue the path of convincing your colleagues in the scientific community, then they will come around. By the account in the Yahoo News story, this process took only about 5 years at most. (And, I know for a fact that when I was in grad school in 1986-1992, quasicrystals had indeed won acceptance in the scientific community.)

    Note that Schechtman did not find it necessary to write books or blogs or other such things to convince the public of the correctness of his ideas. Instead, he went through the regular scientific channels.

  44. Durr says:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    The author still implies the IPCC’s main selling point is correct though.

    Not sure I caught that from his piece, but I don’t doubt that if pressed, that’s what he would say.

    After all, the man’s got to earn a living.

  45. Joel Shore says:
    October 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    Note that Schechtman did not find it necessary to write books or blogs or other such things to convince the public of the correctness of his ideas. Instead, he went through the regular scientific channels.

    Maybe that was before folks were trying to “redefine what peer review is”.

  46. Yes, exactly, Schetmann did not go through blogs to convince the world about Real Climate Science [ sic ] from real Climate Scientists. He followed the scientific method, stuck to facts and showed his work.

    Now if only Climate Scientists can follow that example!

  47. jaymam says:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm
    The names of the people who gave Dr. Shechtman a hard time and ridiculed him, should be published as a lesson for others who are wrong.
    ======================================

    I was thinking just that … their names should be published and their apologies should be recorded. Those that cannot find the words to apologise should be ostrasized by the scientific community.

  48. Joel Shore,

    His hypothesis was confirmed by empirical evidence within that 5 years. Increasingly, mainstream climate scientists are constructing hypotheses that are unfalsifiable, and by extension unverifiable, e.g. more snow – less snow, floods – droughts, consistent with stable or cooling – consistent with warming.

  49. Here is a similar story. See the second paragraph under “Flood hypothesis proposed.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula_Floods

    Geologist J Harlen Bretz first recognized evidence of the catastrophic floods . . .
    Bretz’s view, which was seen as arguing for a catastrophic explanation of the geology, ran against the prevailing view of uniformitarianism, . . .

  50. I found this paragraph from the end of the article interesting:

    “Anytime you have a discovery that changes the conventional wisdom that’s 200 years old, that’s something that’s really remarkable,” said Princeton University physicist Paul J. Steinhardt, who coined the term “quasicrystals” and had been doing theoretical work on them before Shechtman reported finding the real thing.

  51. Weather pattern variations MUST change outside of normal short and long term variation, BEFORE climate change can be verified. All hail to meteorologists. They have the goods on weather and it is in their lap to demonstrate, or not, weather pattern change.

    A telling observation, not a single meterologist has come forth with data demonstrating weather pattern change outside the normal short and long term variation patterns known to exist.

    Maybe, the next Nobel Prize should be awarded collectively to meterologists.

  52. Can someone explain why it is only now that Schechtman is recognised by the Nobel committee.. Obviously his findings were replicated by many others along time ago and the practical applications of his work have been around for sometime.

  53. R. Gates says:
    October 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I was fortunate to hear a lecture he gave several years ago. Very inspirational and a fascinating person. Here’s a nice Youtube video on his findings:

    Thanks for the most excellent video lecture! Keep it up!

    yoyu hate me, bc I may be smarter says:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Same thought, and this is the reason why:

    http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/92prom.html

    Thanks for the most excellent essay! Required reading for all, who have an interest in science, or science career. GK

  54. kramer says:
    “Mocked, insulted, ridiculed… You sure this guy isn’t a skeptical climate scientist?”

    Skepticism is at the very begining of modern chemistry. Robert Boyle’s “The Sceptical Chymist” published in 1661 argued for rigorous experimental methods. Chemistry has been around for alot longer than climate science and still knew things are being discovered. Yet, CAGW is “settled”. LOL.

    Joel Shore says:
    “Note that Schechtman did not find it necessary to write books or blogs or other such things to convince the public of the correctness of his ideas. Instead, he went through the regular scientific channels.”

    I wonder if that would have been the case if the “establishment” were about to increase the cost of living by 100 fold through quasicrystal non-existance tax. I bet he would have fought charlatanism any way he could. But alas, there was no government or environmental group that proclaimed that because quasicrystals don’t exist you must pay (to save the world).

  55. “”””” Geoff Withnell says:

    October 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    He should not have been ridiculed, but on the other hand, until his findings could be replicated, neither should his results been accepted. Consensus has its uses. However, it should be based on observations, not models “””””

    Why don’t you make up your mind Geoff.

    Do we go by what experimentallists report that they have observed; whether or not that is in agreement with current “theory/models” ; or not ??

    Of course Dr Schechtman’s EXPERIMENTAL OBSERVATIONS should have been accepted; unless of course somebody could quickly point to where he made an experimental error.

    Whether somebody else immediately replicates his results is quite irrelevent; it would appear, that nobody bothered to, because he obviously was wrong; well according to dogma.

    Remember that Einstein said no amount of experimental authentication suffices to prove an idea correct; but a single counter result suffices to disprove.

    Nobody produced any counter experimental demonstration. It’s of no consequence that no-one bothered to try and replicate his results. As it happens, others had seen what he saw; they were just too dense to recognize what they were seeing.

    Nobel Prizes rarely go to the dense.

    Well done Dr Schechtman.

  56. Jeremy says: “I want an anti-prize bestowed on those who act hostile to individuals such as this in this manner. I say if you managed to win a nobel prize in a science for discovering something new, those who ostracized you should be stripped of any scientific awards they’ve received. This closed-minded behavior has to be discouraged somehow.”

    That would be the Trofim Lysenko Prize. But I don’t like the idea. It’s still based on consensus. I’d rather accentuate the positive. History will list the losers along with Lysenko forever. We need to speak the truth and oppose the lies. Ad hominem attacks are for the Warmists and their lackeys.

  57. Joel Shore says:
    October 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “Note that Schechtman did not find it necessary to write books or blogs or other such things to convince the public of the correctness of his ideas. Instead, he went through the regular scientific channels.”

    ======================

    Uh huh. Noted.

    Noted also: Shall we assume by the fact you are “finding it necessary” to “blog” on here and “convince the ‘public’ of the correctness” of your ideas…that you are not like Schechtman?

    Or shall we just assume that, in your opinion, “the public” is not capable of understanding the “correctness of anyones ideas” (be them Schechtman, you, God or anyone for that matter)…and let alone understand and appreciate “regular scientific channels”?

    Or is it both?? Or all three??

    Yeah I thought so.

    Your ivory tower condescension is subtle, but insidious, and it always bleeds through in the end.

    Joe Public
    (Chris)
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  58. Dr Burzynski comes to mind as well. Another one history will someday recognize.

    Kudos to Schechtman, Marshall and all the others mentioned and not.

    If I have seen farther into the future it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. I am so glad there are people in this world who will stick to their guns when they can prove they are correct. Other peoples’ ridicule cannot disprove a fact.

  59. George E. Smith; says:

    “Nobel Prizes rarely go to the dense.”

    ============================

    i suppose in a darwinian field of physics, your statement is quite true.

    However, in the realm of the Nobel PEACE Prizes….let me rattle off a few who seemed to have escaped and slithered through the natural selection filter:

    Barak Obama ~ Albert Arnold Gore Jr. ~ the International Panel on Climate Change ~ Yasser Arafat ~ The United Nations / Kofi Annan ~ etc ad nauseum

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  60. This whole topic of transition from “radical” insight to “mainstream” acceptance is quite complex and somwhat deeper than most of the blogs that are above this. That is not a criticism of them or of WUWT. I would not have had the pleasure of congratulating Dr Shechtman here if WUWT had not highlighted his award.
    There is a great deal of complexity in the interactions between the radical (for lack of a better word) and the groups who remain to be convinced. One has to consider factors such as personality – and this good scientist comes through as a most pleasant person – going on to where the radical works (top institute or fringe), the real and imagined strength of support for the prevailing theory, the logical hurdles if any, the difficulty of devising a null hypothesis etc etc
    One could argue that Linus Pauling’s first Laureate for work on chemical bonding was rather harder to achieve than his second, a Peace prize for opposing nuclear weapons by work that was hardly earth-shattering. Then he went rather off the tracks with his ascorbic acid promotion. My point is that far more than merit is involved. Connections can be so important.
    The repeated difficulty of the radical to gain acceptance is a blight on modern science. It has been shown from repeated modern examples that the top associations are not really bothered to depart from mainstream, but can be busy enough to impede the radical.
    We need a “Journal of Rejected Radicals” that would possibly be well read by venture capitalists looking for large leverage on investments. OTOH, it’s rancorous and taking it too far to make a list of those who opposed the radicals who succeeded.
    All of us are as good as our education, experience and ability dictates.
    Self-improvement trumps criticism of others.

  61. Probably 20 years ago, I attended a seminar given by Linus Pauling on the quasicrystal controversy. He talked about attempting to solve the structure of “sodium cadmide” as a graduate student, somewhere around 1922. He said he gave up when he determined that the basic repeating unit had, as I recall, about 22,000 atoms in it. They solved crystal structures by hand-calculation in those days. :-)

    Computers, of course, eventually came to his aid. As I recall, he said he managed to index the structure as a twinned crystal form. A twinned crystal means there are two interpenetrating lattices (repeating arrangements of atoms) in one solid. Sodium cadmide is an alloy of the minimal formula, Na2Cd. It’s quasicrystaline. Pauling was able to index it as a twinned crystal using ordinary space group symmetry, which excludes the 5-fold symmetry of quasicrystals. The problem everyone had, including Pauling, in conceiving 5-fold symmetry crystal lattices was that it’s impossible to fill a space or volume with a repeating solid of 5-fold symmetry. Try tiling perfect pentagons, if you’d like to see for yourself. Crystalline solids, of course, fill a volume with a repeating 3D unit.

    During the question period after Pauling’s seminar, another researcher stood up and said he could also index the material as a quasicrystal, using the expanded dimensionality that quasicrystalline theory introduced. Pauling reasonably replied that there’s no point to expanded dimensionality when ordinary symmetry plus twinning would do. At the time, as I recall, the explanation for quasicrystals was that they followed ordinary symmetry in a higher dimension that manifested itself in three dimensions as 5-fold order. I remember thinking at the time that Pauling had a point in rejecting this idea. After all, atoms crystallize in 3 dimensions, no more than that.

    It was my impression that Pauling objected to this higher-dimensional aspect to the explanation as an unnecessary addition to theory, not to the existence of apparently quasicrystalline materials or to the overall icosahedral (5-fold) symmetry they demanded.

    The debate wasn’t really resolved until about 1997, several years after Pauling’s death. As it turned out, the few known true quasicrystals have what’s appropriately called quasi-periodicity, meaning that the basic unit only approximately repeats itself as one translates through the crystal. Smaller subunits of the structure have the 5-fold symmetry, but the solid accommodates the impossibility of close-packing these units by giving up on perfect long-range order of the pure repetition of unit cells that are characteristic of a true crystalline solid. In 1997, the IUCr (International Union of Crystallography) went so far as to redefine a crystal, as ““any solid having an essentially discrete diffraction diagram,” and an aperiodic crystal as “any crystal in which 3D lattice periodicity can be considered to be absent.”” Quasicrystals are aperiodic solids that nevertheless exhibit diffraction.

    So, the reality is always more complicated than the common story. Pauling wasn’t being an irrational hard-bar in taking his critical stance. He was able to index some of the materials in terms of his standard model, which objectively supported his view. He published at least 15 peer-reviewed papers on his work.

    It’s just that nature turned out to be more complicated than Pauling thought. Schectman had real data and his data were right. There was a new way for atoms to arrange themselves in diffraction-producing solids, and he really did discover a new phase of matter. So, the early debate was critical and necessary, and typical of what does go on (except for climate science), and should go on, in science. The ad hominems and personal attacks were clearly wrong. They are a sign that scientists themselves don’t consciously keep before themselves the high likelihood that nature is more complicated than they know. Call this trait foolish arrogance when it stoops to personal denigration. Schechtman surely had courage in carrying on in the face of ad hominem dismissals, and definitely opened a big new door.

    It was interesting that Paul Bishop faced similar criticisms in the 1980’s when he first published his results pointing to an alternative bacterial enzyme that fixed atmospheric nitrogen. It contained vanadium instead of the standard molybdenum, and his first work was widely dismissed as an artifact. But he persisted and eventually proved himself right and his critics wrong. Since then, there have turned out to be two alternative systems, with the third enzyme containing iron. It’s all now accepted science. Many nitrogen-fixing bacterial carry genes for all three enzymes, so that they can survive in environments that are impoverished in the more exotic metals.

    So, the failing of arrogant foolishness is not missing among scientists either, who after all are also only human. Fortunately, along with others of their species, courage is also manifest among scientists: Dan Schectman, Paul Bishop, Roy Spencer, Dick Lindzen.

  62. The truth will always win….eventually. AGW catastrophism is on its way to a footnote to scientific ignominy.

  63. Scorle says:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    It makes me think of my two attempts here to reveil the fact that Switzerland as well as Austria as well as Varoe Radio station at Finnmark (Norway, within polar circle) had stations that have registered record high average temperatures for September. This news is neglected but one day snow in the Alps in September however (yes the same month) was brought as breaking news at front page of this website!
    What about this Mr. Anthony Watts? Might we – although of a different order – call this a real (or actually better) parallel?
    ===========================================================================
    Sheesh! the answer was obvioulsy too easy.
    [url]http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=8446[/url]

  64. polistra says:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Good interview with Shechtman on NPR

    http://www.npr.org/2011/10/05/141087726/nobel-winning-chemist-fought-hard-for-acceptance

    The Pauling connection is especially important. Nasty old Pauling also blocked the biochemistry research of Art Robinson, who had to take his work on aging and metabolism “private”. Robinson later became one of the pioneers on the factual side of climate research.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    There is a tad bit more to that. Dr. Robinson worked with Pauling for a while and they had a “falling out” over Pauling’s fascination with vitamin C so Robinson went private.

  65. Can someone explain why it is only now that Schechtman is recognised by the Nobel committee.. Obviously his findings were replicated by many others along time ago and the practical applications of his work have been around for sometime.

    What do you mean “only now”? By the standards of the Nobel Committee his recognition is fairly quick.

    Even Crick, Watson and Wilkins took nine years, and that was a much more important (and obviously correct) discovery.

    Injustices abound: Einstein never got one for Relativity (he got it for the photoelectric effect) despite it being THE great discovery of the day.

  66. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For everyone who thinks that they are Galileo (or Dan Schechtman), there are probably a thousand who thinks they are but ain’t. So, those aren’t great odds.

    Other lessons: If you are persistent and pursue the path of convincing your colleagues in the scientific community, then they will come around. By the account in the Yahoo News story, this process took only about 5 years at most. (And, I know for a fact that when I was in grad school in 1986-1992, quasicrystals had indeed won acceptance in the scientific community.)

    Note that Schechtman did not find it necessary to write books or blogs or other such things to convince the public of the correctness of his ideas. Instead, he went through the regular scientific channels.”

    Joel, you seem to be dismissing the people who think they are a Galileo and aren’t. Is it not true that for science to progress the consensus has to be challenged? And aren’t those who you dismiss doing just that? They may be failures or “losers” in your mind, but I see people who are willing to challenge the established consensus and whether they’re right or whether they’re wrong they are doing more for science than those who would have us believe “the science is settled”. At least they stand up to be counted.

  67. I have an unpublished manuscript, People They Laughed At, which everyone should read, because people have laughed at the forerunners since we learned to laugh.

  68. Ah, yes, the “Galileo” argument.

    In order to be the ‘next Galieo’, it’s not sufficient to be laughed at, to be against the consensus.

    You must also be right. And, as Shechtman did, present evidence that supports your ideas, evidence that stands the test of examination. That’s a rather higher bar.

    “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
    Carl Sagan

  69. Joel Shore says:
    October 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For everyone who thinks that they are Galileo (or Dan Schechtman), there are probably a thousand who thinks they are but ain’t. So, those aren’t great odds.
    ==========
    So, I should stop thinking, because the odds are against me ?

  70. valerie Yule says:
    October 5, 2011 at 9:47 pm
    I have an unpublished manuscript, People They Laughed At, which everyone should read, because people have laughed at the forerunners since we learned to laugh.

    I suggest you look up CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing arm for a combination of on-demand paperbooks and Kindle e-books. I’ve recommended it to another author who’s used it successfully.

    (Don’t I remember you from the Social Inventions Journal?)

    • I remember Roger Knights from the Social Invention Journal, but do not know how to contact you again. My web-page is http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/, which is full of Social Innovations – some taken up, and others still to find backers.
      The UK Social Inventions people now put out the Global Ideas Bank, for people to put up their ideas. Do you know it?

  71. There is some discussion on blogs that Penrose had suggested theoretically that such quasi symmetries should exist:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Penrose#Works

    “Penrose is well known for his 1974 discovery of Penrose tilings, which are formed from two tiles that can only tile the plane nonperiodically, and are the first tilings to exhibit fivefold rotational symmetry. Penrose developed these ideas based on the article Deux types fondamentaux de distribution statistique[9] (1938; an English translation Two Basic Types of Statistical Distribution) by Czech geographer, demographer and statistician Jaromír Korčák. In 1984, such patterns were observed in the arrangement of atoms in quasicrystals.[10] ”

    And should have been equally honored.

    The discussion and video provided by R.Gates (thanks) here, shows that the prize is also a vindication of sticking to one’s correct experimental observations, in addition to being the chemistry prize and Penrose was no chemist.

    As the world becomes smaller and smaller due to the net connections, the question will become important: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Maybe Nobel prizes should be split, with theory competing with theory and experiment with experiment. Though theory will always need experimental validation to be chosen, so it will come after or concurrently to the honoring of the corresponding experimental discovery .

  72. Perhaps Fleischmann and Pons will get a few mentions this week. A talk at an American Physical Society conference in 1989, calling the two incompetent and delusional, was met with a standing ovation. However, Andrea Rossi’s cold fusion device is being tested again today in Bologna for a handful of scientists, with the startup of his 1MW plant scheduled for the end of this month.

  73. Some discoveries take longer than others to be recognised – thats life, or is it?

    Although Marshall discovered the helicobacter pylori cause for most stomach ulcers in the early eighties there was very little acceptance, and much opposition until very close to the expiration of the patent for Zantac in the late nineties. Then, suddenly – Nobel Prize for Medicine Just call me a cynic.

    The speed of acceptance, although linked to funerals can also be linked to vested interests. I hope to be around to see the outcome of asthma/Buteyko and cancer/laetrile confrontations with the concensus and I may just have to hold my breath in the former!

  74. This website http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html has a list of many cases and links to significant documentation of cases similar to Dr Schechtman’s. These cases are certainly not in short supply.
    As a layman, I can only place the vindictiveness shown by non-concurring scientists at the feet of the human psyche, which drives many to react violently to threats. Whether the reaction occurs in a bar over a game or in the lab over a new theory, the reactor can end up looking pretty stupid.
    Unlike Rodney King, I know we can’t all just get along, but calling people names and frothing in front of the press sure as hell ain’t science.
    Dr Schechtman was apparently working at NIST when he was dropped from his research group because of his position on quasicrystals. I’m amazed that no one in that government organization saw the potential for beaucoup grant money.

  75. I beleve it was Richard Feynman who said “The two most exciting words in science are ‘That’s Odd…'”
    And if you go back through history, nearly every scientific breakthrough starts with that observation. And for each one, it preceded by dozens, hundreds, even thousands of scientists who observed the same thing, and assumed they had screwed up the experiment, ignored the observation, and even falsified the data to eliminate the effect.

  76. The most relevant comparison for frequenters of this website is Boltzmann. He eventually committed suicide in response to the ridicule he got for his theory of statistical mechanics. He never was able to receive his Nobel because they cannot be awarded posthumously.

  77. Merrick says:
    October 6, 2011 at 7:52 am
    He eventually committed suicide in response to the ridicule he got for his theory of statistical mechanics.
    The wiki article on Boltzmann does not concur with your statement.
    His last years were years of recognition of his work, but it seems that he was prone to depression :Boltzmann was subject to rapid alternation of depressed moods with elevated, expansive or irritable moods, likely the symptoms of undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

  78. from The Search for an Eternal Norm, Louis J. Halle, 1981, posted on Michael Prescott’s blog at http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2011/10/the-search-for-an-eternal-norm-excerpt-part-one.html

    Hamlet lives in the world we all know, the world of corruption satirized in Voltaire’s Candide, the world epitomized in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The corruption consists of the pretenses of those who constitute society, whether at a Renaissance court or in the fashionable circles of our cities today.

    Especially in the competitive upper ranges of society, the positions that people take on the issues that confront them, the attitudes they strike, are based, not on a concern for what is true, but on the objective of gaining credit for “right thinking.” In an elementary form this can be observed among young intellectuals in the lobbies of any concert-hall after a symphonic performance. Each in his comment tries to give an impression of critical appreciation, using a fashionable vocabulary to show that he is one of the initiated.…

    I recall how shocked I was, when myself still a child, to read in Edward Bok’s autobiography that, as drama critic for a New York newspaper, he sometimes did not bother to attend the performances of which he wrote his criticisms, relying on his native ingenuity to carry off the bluff. Most book-reviewers rarely do more than sample the books they review. They depend on a kind of bluff that becomes second nature to them, adopting the style of magisterial authority and indulging in little tricks of allusion and citation to suggest their mastery of the book’s subject.

    This universal pretense is no less prevalent in the councils of government, where the current fashion in right thinking quite overrides truth.…

    In this corrupt world, anyone who seeks to emulate the child of the Anderson tale, and to make his career on that basis, will find himself facing barriers that are all but insurmountable. He will find himself intellectually isolated, standing in opposition to the common mind that governs the society in which he is trying to make his career. He will find that he has aroused, among the insiders who represent the common mind, the same atavistic instinct of hostility toward the outsider that is in evidence on any school playground.

    The first barrier that he must face is that of confidence in his own faculties; for few of us have the self-assurance to believe even in the simple testimony of our own eyes when everyone around us is admiring the Emperor’s new clothes. Many of us who have sat at the council-tables of government have had the experience of not daring to speak up when everyone else agreed on what appeared to be plainly untrue, fearing that we had missed some essential point in the argument or overlooked some factor evident to all the others–fearing that we would show ourselves unfit for our jobs.

    The second barrier is in the power of those who represent the common mind to deny the outsider advancement in his career and opportunities for publication, or to discredit his work if it appears as a book for review. Where the standards of book-reviewing are pragmatic rather than principled, the first question to present itself to a reviewer is whether the author is “one of us,” and on the basis of the answer he decides whether the author should be honored or discredited.…

    Again, if the man who thinks for himself wants a university appointment or hopes for promotion he is likely to find the way barred by those who represent the common academic mind.…

    The pretenses to which I have referred are related to the process of forming the collective mind. The individual, as one member of a group that has to formulate its collective opinions on the issues to which it addresses itself, is involved in the politics of negotiation and compromise at the level of the common mind, which is never high. In these circumstances, the question is never one of truth but of what attitudes to strike; and the question of what attitudes to strike is a question of what will best promote the group’s power in society, a power with which its members have identified themselves. This is what comes to constitute right thinking.

    We take this kind of thing for granted in the behavior of political parties, but it has hardly been less true of French painters for generations past.…

    Literary intellectuals, for their part, have belonged to categorically defined and recognized ideological groupings.…

    The same inescapable corruption pervades and all pervades all professional and vocational circles. We take for granted the shoe-manufacturer’s conviction that the general interests of society require a protective tariff against foreign shoes. But Plato, himself, was sure that philosophers should be kings. Anyone who suggests to a gathering of physical scientists that the world might not be better off if it were run only by people with their training and discipline will get a cold reception. Anyone who suggests to political scientists that they are not qualified, as such, to take over the decision-making functions of government will find that they regard him as unsound. There will be pursed lips and a shaking of heads.…

    In all academic communities a distinction may be made between what everyone says and what is true. The former is, in a word, “correct.” Students at examinations, or in the papers they submit, may be well advised to aim at “correct” answers. The training they are undergoing is primarily in the orthodoxy that such answers represent. Again, wherever an ideological establishment rules the only question that arises is that of what is “correct,” and the very word “truth” disappears. So a sort of scholastic formalism develops the corrupts the intellectual enterprise of mankind. It has been so in all ages, in our own no less than in Galileo’s.

    The barriers to survival, in his career, of an individual who thinks for himself are not necessarily insurmountable. In exceptional circumstances, involving luck or the special providence referred to by Hamlet, he may at least be able to keep going for the normal duration of his career. But the barriers are so formidable and intimidating that, in all but extraordinary cases, there can be no question of not respecting them.

    Every society is in constant danger of being finally overcome by the corruption I have described. That is why every society needs, in addition to the orthodox establishments that give it stability, a Socrates or a Voltaire for its constant purgation. I am not sure, however, that a Socrates or a Voltaire would have much chance of surviving in the highly organized mass-societies of our day, unless briefly and by virtue of an exceptional combination of circumstances. In a simpler age, Socrates did not need a publisher, a lecture-platform, an academic stipend, funds to support his studies; and although the difficulties and dangers that confronted Voltaire were in some respects even greater than those that would confront him today, they are different difficulties and dangers.…

    What I have attempted to show above is the corruption that prevails at all the levels of power and influence in our world today, as in ancient Greece, in Rome, in Medieval and in Renaissance Europe, in ancient Persia, in Byzantium, in Confucian and in communist China. This corruption is always tending to engulf us, to become total. The saving grace, time and again, is that of the incorruptible individual who thinks for himself, is under an inner compulsion to utter what he thinks, and still survives long enough to be heard.…

    Hamlet stands alone in opposition to his environment, unable to adjust himself to the existential world of corruption, unable to make the convenient thinking of others his own. His mind is dominated by a normative model of the world, a conception of what it was intended to be.…

  79. “You must also be right. And, as Shechtman did, present evidence that supports your ideas, evidence that stands the test of examination. That’s a rather higher bar.”
    .
    Precisely where Global Warmers fail. But in this case they have the establishmente power,
    Shades of Lysenko… but thankfully we are not yet in a socialist paradise.

  80. BJORN LOMBORG!!! All these comments without one mention of his name? Friends, do please call to mind the shameless sh1t-k1ck1ng he suffered from every establishment source. To this day Sc1ent1f1c Amer1can is not to be mentioned in my house.

  81. Nearly everyone here would agree that these were wrongly attacked by the establishment
    * Bjorn Lomborg
    * The helicobacter team
    Most here would agree that these have been wrongly attacked by the establishment
    * Theodor Landscheidt
    * Henrik Svensmark
    Some here would agree with me that these are being wrongly attacked by the establishment
    * Dr Andrew Wakefield
    * Ferencz Miskolczi
    * The Electric Universe theories (and I don’t have to believe all to see there is important material here)
    Few here would agree with me that these are being wrongly attacked by the establishment
    * Homeopathy (the best practitioners and the classic theory, that is)
    * Linus Pauling’s work on Vitamin C (which saved the life of a friend of mine – and this doesn’t mean LP was infallible which clearly he was not)

    It’s difficult to be a heretic sometimes. But since heresy means thinking for oneself, one can be proud of it too.

  82. “Joel Shore says:
    October 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For everyone who thinks that they are Galileo (or Dan Schechtman), there are probably a thousand who thinks they are but ain’t. So, those aren’t great odds.”

    Something is wrong with this statement. Shouldn’t it be “for every man who thinks he is Galileo (or Dan Schechtman) and is, probably a thousand think they are but aren’t …”

    And isn’t there only one Galileo (and Dan Schechtman)? The odds against thinking you are a man who has been dead five hundred years and actually being him are indeed daunting.

  83. Though I know next to nothing about sociology, I can handwave with the best of us :).

    Man is biologically a herd and pack animal. Herd for the cultivation herbivorous part and pack for the meat eating (sarcophagous in greek but it sounds funny in english :) ) part. There are leaders in packs, and the leader keeps his position by bringing down the adversaries. There is no fairness except : I am still stronger. The fact that man has intellect rides on a meta level on these very basic social instincts.

    The phenomenon that unfolded with Linus Pauling is typical of the old lions of a discipline ( even the terminology is chosen from pack vocabulary). It takes a very mature and wise old lion in a discipline to yield gracefully to new leadership, i.e. to keep learning and not only teach, not to react with pack reflexes and allow the young aspiring competitors room to develop.

  84. A nice example of the way that science is supposed to work: a researcher comes across something which challenges the current orthodoxy, is considered a crank but perseveres and provides experimental evidence that he is right and the scientific orthodoxy changes.

    What I’ve observed during my research career is that peoples personalities determine the type of discoveries they make. People who are risk averse tend to go with the scientific orthodoxy and reject any experimental findings that contradict it. They are unlikely to come up with any novel discoveries but will likely make very slow but steady progress in their particular area of research. They are also likely to continue to receive research grants. Individuals who are ready to take risks will seize upon anomalies in their experiments and investigate them further. This is a far more dangerous course of action as the results might just be random noise. Those that do find something novel, however, advance science but this approach is a lot more dangerous than just sticking to the current dogma. Here the results depend as much on luck as science.

    My first undergraduate research summer job was in the area of organic chemistry where I was supposed to redo some experiments in olefin synthesis using beta-sultine intermediates. Beta sultines, at the time, were considered to be extremely unstable and would immediately decompose once they were created. The chemist whose research I was duplicating was fairly dogmatic and had just indicated that certain reactions resulted in poor yields which was unexpected as decomposition of a beta sultine to olefin should result in virtually 100% yield. I duplicated one of his reactions and remember looking at dismay with the mess of peaks I saw on the NMR spectrum of the reaction product. The only thing that I did differently was to decide that I couldn’t figure out what was going on and put the NMR tube aside and went home early. The next day, for some reason, I decided to repeat the NMR of the mixture that had been in the NMR tube all night and the result was the expected olefin product spectrum. What I had found was a sterically hindered beta-sultine that decayed very slowly and I eventually isolated it in crystalline form. It was an important lesson for me in how much serendipity plays a role in scientific discovery and was the basis of the first paper that I published.

    This might have been an impetus for me to push the envelope in every area of research that I did subsequently but the risk in doing so is failure, and if one is supported by research grants only, unemployment. Thus, it seems that scientific advances depend either on people getting lucky or having the financial resources to fund their own research in non-mainstream areas. From a psychologic perspective, mainstream climate researchers are the equivalent of a drunk staggering around a light post looking for his lost house keys as “there’s more light there”.

    Science is supposed to be objective, but the personality of the scientist unfortunately can’t be separated from the research and the majority of scientists can’t be counted upon to produce any major advances and, unfortunately, do not realize when they’ve made a significant discovery. The converse of this is the researcher who stumbles on an anomaly which is just noise but announces a major scientific discovery. The few who have the right balance of risk-aversion and luck are the ones who win Nobel prizes. My decision was to go into medicine where I can fund my own research interests and not have to worry about sticking with current dogma. The only thing I hadn’t counted on was the impetus one got from having to publish something to continue getting funding and I’ve just been tinkering for the last couple of decades.

  85. Thanks Lucy (October 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm),

    I agree with you on some and disagree on others – as you expected, but the difference is neither of us is trying to foist massive programs of social change on the planet based on who we agree with. This is where the hubris of the CAGW crowd (or their self-interest maybe – I am in a generous mood today) is so poorly received.

  86. Steve M says:
    October 6, 2011 at 4:10 am

    “Andrea Rossi’s cold fusion device is being tested again today in Bologna for a handful of scientists, with the startup of his 1MW plant scheduled for the end of this month.”

    Interesting news! Very sceptical, but also very interested!

  87. “Joel Shore says:
    October 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For everyone who thinks that they are Galileo (or Dan Schechtman), there are probably a thousand who thinks they are but ain’t. So, those aren’t great odds.”

    But, in 90% of those cases, organized establishment conservatism never came into play, because the wacko’s theory never gathered any organized support beyond a tiny handful. In the case of climate contrarianism, there are Nobelists on board the side of the heresy–and massive establishment resistance and insistence. The situation is different here, therefore.

    Much of the establishment’s position can be accounted for sociologically. Warmism is “PC”–it fits the template of the fad of the era: environmentalism. and it fits the psychological need of that faction of humanity that is inclined to utopian fantasies, relentless indignant finger-pointing, and the messianic delusion. Hence it has attracted sycophants, and the backing of the gov’t. This in turn has led to a groupthink mindset and climate of opinion. Hence it takes a rare man to buck it–leading to a strengthening of groupthink.

    As a result of the influence of these subjective factors (and more) on establishment opinion, the odds against warmism’s objectively being “correct” go down. It isn’t being cried down because it’s objectively wrong so much as because it frustrates the vanity and ambition of the latest factions (Environmentalism, Big Academia) seeking to rise in the endless process of the “circulation of the elites” (Pareto).

  88. PS: When I wrote above, “It isn’t being cried down because it’s objectively wrong …'” I meant that climate contrarianism isn’t being cried down because it’s wrong …” The way I wrote it, it looks like the “it” referred to “warmism” in the previous sentence.

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