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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

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