Historical and Current Attitudes in the Scientific Community

  • #1
I am currently starting an education in physics and want to have a career in this field as well. My question concerns today's attitude toward each other within the community regarding new ideas and concepts. I consider myself to be a very creative person, perhaps more so then a love for mathematics for example. I still get high marks in mathematics, but my mind is more concerned with visualizing things than calculating them it seams. I really do not enjoy mathematics, but see it as an essential tool for understanding the complexities of our universe. Einsteins quotes on imagination are some of my favorite quotes and give me confidence, but I still have concerns. As I learn about the numerous great minds throughout history that are now considered heroes or role models in the community, I get concerned about how some of them were treated and become a bit scared.

It seems like there is a pattern going on involving these people. To me, it seems that many times you will have a great mind like Faraday for example, who has a creative mind and imagination and presents wondrous answers and ideas to solve age old problems. They may even make observations or perform experiments to help back up their claims but are unable to complete their findings with mathematics for example. They are often very private about their ideas, almost as if they are scared to present them. When they do present them, they are often dismissed or ignored by whatever ruling scientific body exists at the time. Without fail, there always seem to be another great but different mind that comes along years later or even after the prior scientists death and is able to complete the work ultimately getting it accepted.

My question is about today's attitudes. Is sharing new ideas or concepts among fellow scientists more accepted and better received today? I'm talking about discussing them in early stages to get opinions or to get a mathematicians help for example, not writing papers or making public announcements about a baseless idea. Is there still an elitist attitude among some that will ridicule you for even mentioning something before you've had a chance to get any support or gather evidence? Should one be afraid to share their possible wild and wondrous imagination among the community if for no other reason than to collaborate, discuss, and possibly learn from them? What is it like out there? Is it as ruthless as I imagine?

I realize sharing of new ideas and such is prohibited here for good reasons. This post is not an effort to question those rules or circumvent them but merely a personal concern for what to expect in the real world today and how I will be able to communicate in private settings with other colleagues. Thank You.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
26,347
9,827
Is there still an elitist attitude among some that will ridicule you for even mentioning something before you've had a chance to get any support or gather evidence?
That's not an "elitist attitude". That is "science".
 
  • Like
Likes Ryan_m_b
  • #3
When I say elitist I am reffering to the negative aspects that attitude can manifest. Ridicule for example is not an effective form of discussion and is dissrespectful. Im talking about the attitude of not listening to new ideas because of pride. I do believe in healthy critism because science is about proving each other or yourself wrong. What im asking about is the negative forms of communication and closed mindedness that has seemed to hold us back. Im talking about a great mind who has a new idea that cannot get help from anyone because they believe his idea to be "outside their box". When this is later looked at or proven years or decades down the road, it makes me think that if it had support sooner then we would be further along today. Im talking about having to be afraid of opening your mouth.

When I say elitest, I am refering to its definition "being or characteristic of a person who has an offensive air of superiority and tends to ignore or disdain anyone regarded as inferior<the complacent, elitist attitude of the members at that suburban country club>"

Are you saying this attitude is how scientists should behave?
 
  • #5
It really is.

Really, it's not.
I was asking a question about if a certain attitude exists today that I perceived to have existed in the past. I described this attitude in my question which fits the definition of elitist. By saying what I am describing as elitist is really science means that you are attributing the definition which I posted and described to science. You are saying that science in elitist. You are saying that science is done with "offensive air of superiority and tends to ignore or disdain anyone regarded as inferior" - Webster Dictionary.

This generally means "clueless."
Referring to someone who thinks outside the box as clueless would mean that many of our great scientists were clueless and deserved to be ignored and regarded as inferior.

Further along toward what?
Further along in a matter of progress. If Faraday hadn't been ignored for x amount of years, then could we have possibly be x amount of years ahead in scientific progress today?

You're ascribing your impressions of "attitudes" to people who don't have the time to have attitudes.
It really is.
Nobody has time to listen to new ideas?

My original post is asking questions about what to expect in the community today based on how I understand its history. I am not implying that what I am asking is the truth. Changing the words in my questions to something different and then answering it, in my opinion is not answering my original question. I want to know how sound new ideas are presented and received today.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
Bystander
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
5,203
1,225
"Nobody has time to listen to new ideas?"
Do you understand how many "new" ideas professionals hear a day? Do you understand just how "new" those tired, worn-out, intuitive misconceptions really are? You're asking for far more than "the patience of Job" when you ask for step by step critiquing and correction for every instance of "new ideas." You will be directed to the appropriate FAQ, reference, or standard text. You want "egg in your beer" with that direction, you're asking for indulgences far beyond most peoples' resources.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
26,347
9,827
You want to do science, do science. Data and numbers and all.

You want to do something else, go right ahead. Just don't expect people to call it science.,
 
  • #8
You want to do science, do science. Data and numbers and all.

You want to do something else, go right ahead. Just don't expect people to call it science.,
That's not at all what I asked. It seems like you assume I'm talking about crackpot ideas or disproving current sound theories. I am talking about the ideas that help solve the new problems we face today and gaining support to test them. This should be obvious in using historical figures like Faraday as my example. Faraday was not a crackpot and had great ideas. That's the type of ideas and people I am talking about...
 
Last edited:
  • #9
"Nobody has time to listen to new ideas?"
Do you understand how many "new" ideas professionals hear a day? Do you understand just how "new" those tired, worn-out, intuitive misconceptions really are? You're asking for far more than "the patience of Job" when you ask for step by step critiquing and correction for every instance of "new ideas." You will be directed to the appropriate FAQ, reference, or standard text. You want "egg in your beer" with that direction, you're asking for indulgences far beyond most peoples' resources.
That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking for personal experience on how people with ideas are treated today compared to the past. I never mentioned step by step critiques. I asked about the willingness of scientists in general to listen and if an elitist attitude is prevalent.
 
  • #10
Bystander
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
5,203
1,225
the willingness of scientists in general to listen and if an elitist attitude is prevalent.
Yes, they listen. No, they (as a group) are not elitists.
 
  • #11
Basically all I am asking is if a scientist should be afraid to share new scientifically sound ideas to solve new problems before they have been tested for the sole purpose of being able to get the resources to test them and perhaps another scientist or two to help them test it that like the idea. How well received are new ideas in general. Is it different today then it was in the past? I am just looking for an observational answer based on personal experience. I am asking how it is out there.
 
  • #13
jtbell
Mentor
15,727
3,880
As I learn about the numerous great minds throughout history that are now considered heroes or role models in the community, I get concerned about how some of them were treated
How about an example of someone fairly recent who falls into this category? I say "fairly recent" because it's not fair to use hundred-plus-year-old examples to beat up present-day scientists with.
 
  • #14
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2020 Award
32,870
11,363
I am talking about the ideas that help solve the new problems we face today and gaining support to test them. This should be obvious in using historical figures like Faraday as my example. Faraday was not a crackpot and had great ideas.
But we only know that with the benefit of hindsight. We know now that Faraday's and Einstein's crazy-sounding ideas were actually right, but that was not at all obvious when those ideas were first proposed. For every Faraday or Einstein whose ideas sound crazy because they are innovative new ways of solving problems, there are thousands of people whose ideas sound crazy because they're just crazy.

The problem of science is not coming up with ideas; it's filtering out the very few Faraday/Einstein-type ideas, the ones that actually will help solve problems, from the huge clamor of crazy ones that will not solve anything and will just be a waste of time. That process takes time and requires skepticism and an insistence on ideas being tested before they are accepted. I'm sure that process seems frustrating for the Faraday or Einstein whose ideas are actually going to pass the tests, but that's the price that has to be paid to make sure we only award the "genius" label to the actual Faradays or Einsteins.
 
  • Like
Likes Ryan_m_b
  • #15
How about an example of someone fairly recent who falls into this category? I say "fairly recent" because it's not fair to use hundred-plus-year-old examples to beat up present-day scientists with.
I am not using it as an example to beat them up. I didn't say that at all. I merely asked if the atmosphere was still the same or not in any aspect. I asked if any of the negative atmospheres of the past still existed. My only frame of reference is the historical figures. I am barely starting my education and I don't know the personal experiences of any current scientists. Sure I could go read some biographies to learn about today's scientists but I chose to ask on here first because I feel its a good resource to get many opinions from many different points of view. That why I am asking to get personal experience on how things have changed today and if anything has remained the same. I honestly think we are better but I don't know how or to what extent.
 
  • #16
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,940
How about an example of someone fairly recent who falls into this category? I say "fairly recent" because it's not fair to use hundred-plus-year-old examples to beat up present-day scientists with.
Aaron, please supply these examples.

Your question is impossible to answer, it depends on who the person is with the "idea", what credentials they have that would make someone think they should waste time on them, who the scientists, researchers are. No two people are alike, you can't just ask an all encompassing blanket question like you have and expect an actual answer, because an actual answer is impossible.
 
  • Like
Likes phinds
  • #17
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
21,100
4,933
Aaron, this isn't the 1800's anymore. Science is a mature, professional discipline in which tens of thousands of people are employed. We quite literally do not have people like Faraday who can experiment at home and help advance science. We don't have those people anymore because all the easy advancements, the ones you could have found in your basement, have already been made. You can argue all you want that we don't know this, but in reality the chances of someone without the proper training making a ground-breaking discovery from their basement is so slim, and the number of people who claim they've done so is so high, that it is quite literally not worth anyone's time and effort to even entertain their ideas.

Those individuals who do have the proper training and knowledge to advance science also know how to go about publishing their ideas in a way that tells their peers that they know what they're talking about. This means that you will not see reputable scientists publishing videos to youtube or publishing papers and articles on their own website or a tiny unheard of journal. Those people who do these things, those individuals who don't have the slightest idea how to convey their ideas to the scientific community in a proper way, are most certainly not to have their ideas trusted. All the crackpots out there who have cried and moaned about having their pet theories shot down, censored, or rejected, and flooded the internet with barely comprehensible ideas and math-less theories, have ruined any chance for the scientific community to accept an 'outside the box' idea from someone who can't do the math their theory requires and cannot write and publish a paper correctly.
 
  • Like
Likes billy_joule, phinds, Ryan_m_b and 2 others
  • #18
Your question is impossible to answer, it depends on who the person is with the "idea", what credentials they have that would make someone think they should waste time on them, who the scientists, researchers are. No two people are alike, you can't just ask an all encompassing blanket question like you have and expect an actual answer, because an actual answer is impossible.
How is it impossible to give an opinion on your own experience. That's all I want. Its no different than someone asking a group of people what its like to work in a mine for example or asking a thousand people "Whats it like living in this city". You going to get many different answers but many of them will be insightful. I want to hear the personal experiences of people who have had or knew someone who had new ideas. I realize no two people are alike so I don't expect to get some universal answer from anyone who replies. I am trying to gather information from multiple sources on something that I am interested in and use that to help me prepare. I don't understand why this is such a difficult question to get an answer too. I just want an opinion. Perhaps I should have stated that to begin with.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #19
Aaron, this isn't the 1800's anymore. Science is a mature, professional discipline in which tens of thousands of people are employed. We quite literally do not have people like Faraday who can experiment at home and help advance science. We don't have those people anymore because all the easy advancements, the ones you could have found in your basement, have already been made. You can argue all you want that we don't know this, but in reality the chances of someone without the proper training making a ground-breaking discovery from their basement is so slim, and the number of people who claim they've done so is so high, that it is quite literally not worth anyone's time and effort to even entertain their ideas.

Those individuals who do have the proper training and knowledge to advance science also know how to go about publishing their ideas in a way that tells their peers that they know what they're talking about. This means that you will not see reputable scientists publishing videos to youtube or publishing papers and articles on their own website or a tiny unheard of journal. Those people who do these things, those individuals who don't have the slightest idea how to convey their ideas to the scientific community in a proper way, are most certainly not to have their ideas trusted. All the crackpots out there who have cried and moaned about having their pet theories shot down, censored, or rejected, and flooded the internet with barely comprehensible ideas and math-less theories, have ruined any chance for the scientific community to accept an 'outside the box' idea from someone who can't do the math their theory requires and cannot write and publish a paper correctly.
I completely agree with you about your out of the basement analogy. We have better facilities and resources and institutions for that. Its sounds like to me what your saying is that some of the negative atmospheres of the past don't exist or don't apply and that it isn't as rough as it used to be as long as you are presenting ideas in the accepted manner then you wont be viewed as a crackpot or ridiculed. From my perspective, I only know what I've seen in media outlets and from school and other material. Most of what I know is history when it comes to the life of a scientist. I don't have the perspective of someone who is been there and done that. Frankly that frightens me a little because most of my education focused on historical scientists and their struggles. I just wanted to hear it from people who are alive about what its like now. Thank you for your response. It is the type of insightful response that helps me learn.
 
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,940
You've received opinions, so your question has been answered, repeatedly. You have also failed to provide recent examples. Thread closed.
 
  • Like
Likes Bystander

Related Threads on Historical and Current Attitudes in the Scientific Community

  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
Replies
4
Views
2K
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
3K
Replies
32
Views
10K
Top