A Quote of the Day ...
... from my Inbox:
"What happens when smart people may be smart in one field (domain specificity) but are not smart in an entirely different field, out of which may arise weird beliefs. When Harvard marine biologist Barry Fell jumped fields into archaeology and wrote a best-selling book, America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World (1976) about all the people who discovered America before Columbus, he was woefully unprepared and obviously unaware that archaeologists had already considered his different hypotheses of who first discovered America (Egyptians, Greeks, Roman, Phoenicians, etc.) but rejected them for lack of credible evidence. This is a splendid example of the social aspects of science, and why being smart in one field does not make one smart in another. Science is a social process, where one is trained in a certain paradigm and works with others in the field. A community of scientists reads the same journals, goes to the same conferences, reviews one anothers' papers and books, and generally exchanges ideas about the facts, hypotheses, and theories in that field. Through vast experience they know, fairly quickly, which new ideas stand a chance of succeeding and which are obviously wrong. Newcomers from other fields, who typically dive in with both feet without the requisite training and experience, proceed to generate new ideas that they think—because of their success in their own field—will be revolutionary. Instead, they are usually greeted with disdain (or, more typically, simply ignored) by the professionals in the field. This is not because (as they usually think is the reason) insiders don't like outsiders (or that all great revolutionaries are persecuted or ignored), but because in most cases those ideas were considered years or decades before and rejected for perfectly legitimate reasons."
~ from: Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer.I think this applies to Gary Taubes, but also many of the purveyors of Science Krispies I blog about here.