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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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Blinded By The Night

Ron Westrum is a sociologist who specializes in cases where scientific data are rejected out-of-hand because they challenge prevailing paradigms too strongly. In this article, Westrum describes several classical cases where science has ultimately admitted its errors and embraced the formerly rejected data:

1. The fall of stones from the sky; 2. The existence of thousands of parent-battered children; and 3. The reality of the coelacanth. In connection with meteorite falls, he provides a wonderful quote from James Pringle, of the Royal Society:

"I venture to affirm that, after perusing all the accounts I could find of these phenomena, I have met with no well-vouched instance of such an event; nor is it to be imagined, but that, if these meteors had really fallen, there must have been long ago so strong evidence of the fact as to leave no room to doubt of it at present."

Next, Westrum tackles spontaneous human combustion and ball lightning, neither of which have been assimilated by science. He closes with a very complimentary paragraph on the Sourcebook Project and our Catalog of Anomalies, for which we thank him.

(Westrum, Ron; "Blinded by the Night," The Sciences, 25:48, May-June 1985.)

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss