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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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Conformity Strikes Again

It is difficult to believe how hard it is to get new ideas funded in science. T. Gold has contributed a rather plaintive article to the Journal of Scientific Exploration detailing some of his experiences down the years.

His first "bad" experience occurred just after the end of World War II when, fresh from intensive work in radar signal processing, he proposed that the human ear is an active rather than passive receiver; that is, it actually emits sound itself. This self-generated tone aids the ear in signal processing. The thought that the ear could be a sound source was patently ridiculous, and Gold's idea got nowhere. However, recent experiments confirm that the human ear does indeed emit a tone at about 15,000 Hz.

Another, more recent, proposal for research on the behavior of hydrocarbons under high temperatures and pressures got very high marks from reviewers on all points but one: Should the proposal be funded? Several reviewers thought not; one saying that the whole idea was "misguided." In what way was Gold misguided? Well, it seems that his proposed work on hydrocarbons related to his idea that primordial hydrocarbons deep in the earth's crust contribute heavily to the reservoirs of oil and methane we tap on the planet's surface. And everyone knows that all oil and gas is biogenic; that is, derived from buried organic matter!

Gold has concluded that "not all is well" with American science.

(Gold, Thomas; "New Ideas in Science, "Journal of Scientific Exploration, 3:103, 1989.)

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss