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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987