Barber, Bernard. "Resistance by Scientists to Scientific Discovery," Science 134 (1 September

 

Barber, Bernard. "Resistance by Scientists to Scientific Discovery," Science 134 (1 September
1961), pp. 596-602.

Resistance to new ideas is not the result of mere "humanity" with all its frailties. Quite the
contrary, new ideas are resisted because of alternative theories which hold sway, because of
methodological proclivities to which collectives are committed,because of religious ideas,
because of professional standing, because of professional specialization, because of societies,
schools and seniority. In other words, there are good reasons limiting the transmission of ideas
across scientific lives.

There are excellent quotes throughout this article describing the impact of "resistances" on some
of the Big Names of science. Of course, there is Mendel who, as an amateur and a monk, was
"outside" the course of biology and his ideas could be ignored. Then, there is Faraday, whose
ideas had to be mathematized by Maxwell before physicists would listen. Then too, there is
Pasteur who, as a chemist rather than a physician, was an outsider to the profession he most
wanted to influence.

The entire Royal Society is taken to task as one illustrative case because the structure of the
society made it possible to ignore anyone who was not a member.

Citing Plank, Barber quotes "This experience (of rejection)...gave me also an opportunity to learn
a new fact - a remarkable one, in my opinion: A new scientific truth does not triumph by
convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents
eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

"...as scientists get older they are more likely to be subject to one or another of the several
cultural and social sources of resistance I have analyzed here. As a scientist gets older he is more
likely to be restricted in his response to innovation by his substantive and methodological
preconceptions and by his other standings, to have specialized interests, to be a member or
official of an established organization, and to be associated with a ‘school.'"