5 Obsolete Theories That Scientists Once Widely Accepted

5 Obsolete Theories That Scientists Once Widely Accepted

Scientists once believed the Earth was flat. What other silly theories were widely accepted by science in the past?

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Rhykker:
A big problem that the expanding Earth theory faced was a plausible mechanism for the expansion - why would the Earth be growing?

Well, there's another possibility...

No mention of phlogiston? I'm disappointed.

Rhykker:
Curiously, ray tracing technology in computer graphics is a technique that generates images in a manner very similar to emission theory, by tracing a straight-line path from the camera (or eye) to the objects in front of it and gathering the information needed to construct a picture.

You sure about that? I always thought it worked like real light, starting at the light sources and bouncing it from there until it reaches the camera. I guess this makes sense, though; you have to ensure that every pixel is "covered", so doing one operation for each one ensures that that happens. But I don't get how that covers things like radiosity where a single pixel of a single surface might pick up light from several different sources.

Rhykker:
In the late 19th century, it was widely believed across Australia and the American West that human settlement induced rainfall. Yes, climatologists actually believed that the act of migrating to a region of wilderness and cultivating the soil there would increase the rainfall to that area. Want to turn a barren desert into lush farmland? No problem! Just farm it.

I'm trying really hard not to make an Appleloosa joke here.

Steve the Pocket:
You sure about that? I always thought it worked like real light, starting at the light sources and bouncing it from there until it reaches the camera.

No, it works the opposite way. The reason is that if you begin from a light source, many of the rays would never reach the camera so the power would be wasted on them. By beginning on the camera, you render only what the camera can actually see. As for radiosity etc., by going from the camera to the light source, you get the same effect as the other way around. You still need to do a visibility check and cast some rays from each light to see if the camera can see any of the light effects even if the light source itself is obstructed.

OT - this is what I find funny when it comes to the religion vs. science discussion. Everyone believes something which may turn out to be completely crazy in the future.

Sgt. Sykes:

OT - this is what I find funny when it comes to the religion vs. science discussion. Everyone believes something which may turn out to be completely crazy in the future.

While technically true, modern science is completely different from the science of our ancestors. The things that "everyone" believe are far less likely to be utterly debunked, though of course they may be modified by future observations. On the other hand, the things that may turn out to be completely off aren't believed by everyone in the first place, at least within the scientific community. Modern scientific method leaves us much less prone to being taken in by baseless speculation than has occurred historically.

So what has religion done to improve their methodology and disabuse their followers of at least proveable falsehoods like creationism?

Rhykker:
5 Obsolete Theories That Scientists Once Widely Accepted

Scientists once believed the Earth was flat. What other silly theories were widely accepted by science in the past?

Read Full Article

Nitpick: noone serious believed Earth was flat for two millenia. The Greek philosophers had a quite good approximation of Earth's radius and Columbus was looking for Asia by going the other way. The "Flat Earth believers in the Middle Ages" is nothing else than an urban legend. ;-)

Scars Unseen:

Sgt. Sykes:

OT - this is what I find funny when it comes to the religion vs. science discussion. Everyone believes something which may turn out to be completely crazy in the future.

While technically true, modern science is completely different from the science of our ancestors. The things that "everyone" believe are far less likely to be utterly debunked, though of course they may be modified by future observations. On the other hand, the things that may turn out to be completely off aren't believed by everyone in the first place, at least within the scientific community. Modern scientific method leaves us much less prone to being taken in by baseless speculation than has occurred historically.

So what has religion done to improve their methodology and disabuse their followers of at least proveable falsehoods like creationism?

For having such a detailed grasp of science and the scientific method, your last comment confuses me. Nothing is science is ever proven. It is only disproven.

Rufus Shinra:

Rhykker:
5 Obsolete Theories That Scientists Once Widely Accepted

Scientists once believed the Earth was flat. What other silly theories were widely accepted by science in the past?

Read Full Article

Nitpick: noone serious believed Earth was flat for two millenia. The Greek philosophers had a quite good approximation of Earth's radius and Columbus was looking for Asia by going the other way. The "Flat Earth believers in the Middle Ages" is nothing else than an urban legend. ;-)

Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I would give you a cookie if I could. Far too many people believe simply wrong things about history. This is one of them.

The other one that really irks me is that people often think that our ancestors were backward podunk inept monkeys or something and that they attributed everything ever to gods or demons or whatever. They did not. They understood the natural world just like we do, the only difference being that they couldn't necessarily explain it. But a tornado was part of a storm, not God's wrath.

Scars Unseen:
While technically true, modern science is completely different from the science of our ancestors. The things that "everyone" believe are far less likely to be utterly debunked, though of course they may be modified by future observations.

Except we still have no idea about some completely basic stuff, such as:
- what was before the big bang?
- how many dimensions exist?
- why does physics work completely differently on small vs. large scales?
- is matter real or is it a hologram, or vibrations of strings, or whatever?
- are we alone in space?
- what is sentience?
- how did life appear?

Those are questions just as fundamental as whether the Earth is round or flat, and there are countless serious theories for each of them - most of which will be debunked sooner or later.

There is no distinction between 'then' and 'now' - progress is gradual and some of the things we believe in now can be proven invalid in 10 years, and looked at with laughter in 100 years.

So what has religion done to improve their methodology and disabuse their followers of at least proveable falsehoods like creationism?

History of science is full of monks, priests and nuns who progressed science by leaps.

For bunch of scientific delusions, related largely to race and intellect, I suggest you read The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen J Gould. Fantastic book from a fantastic writer.

Scars Unseen:
[quote="Sgt. Sykes" post="6.854297.21144169"]

So what has religion done to improve their methodology and disabuse their followers of at least proveable falsehoods like creationism?

The idea that religion is or has always been opposed to scientific progress is completely and demonstrably false - it's simply not supported by historical fact.

The first man to theorize about life "germinating" or "evolving" over a long period of time (as opposed to being created either all at once or within a short time span) was Saint Augustine, who also made it clear that Genesis was likely meant to be allegorical. This was back in the 300s-400s AD.

The whole reason why any of the scientific knowledge of the Classical period survived the collapse of the Roman Empire was because of the Catholic Church preserving it, and the only reason technology was able to move forward during that time period was because of the education and literacy promoted by the Church. Same goes for the huge leaps forward in astronomy and archtecture made by the Muslims. For centuries, nearly every major advancement in scientific thought came either religious officials or being working closely with the Church, and that includes Newton, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo. The first man to discover genetics was an Augustine monk, and the first man to hypothesize about the existence of the Big Bang was a priest.

This isn't to say that the religious and scientific consensus haven't disagreed in the past, but the vast majority of the time they've worked closely together to achieve progress.

Anyone can advance science by following scientific methodology. Whether they dogmatically believe in imaginary friends and unicorns or not, is irrelevant.

Scars Unseen:

Sgt. Sykes:

OT - this is what I find funny when it comes to the religion vs. science discussion. Everyone believes something which may turn out to be completely crazy in the future.

While technically true, modern science is completely different from the science of our ancestors. The things that "everyone" believe are far less likely to be utterly debunked, though of course they may be modified by future observations. On the other hand, the things that may turn out to be completely off aren't believed by everyone in the first place, at least within the scientific community. Modern scientific method leaves us much less prone to being taken in by baseless speculation than has occurred historically.

So what has religion done to improve their methodology and disabuse their followers of at least proveable falsehoods like creationism?

To be fair, at least where we are referring to Christianity (which is pretty much the only mainstream religion I've studied; I mostly study ancient religions no longer in practice) the debate stands whether the first section of Genesis isn't in the same tune as many of the prophetic books, as in purely allegorical. Also, to be fair, many supporters of Creationism as it's pitched can't quote much else of the Bible, no less Acts, the only book I have memorized word for word.
Those in Religion who stand by tradition and culture instead of their actual religion texts do a disservice to their Faith by claiming evidence where there may be allegory. I could go on about subjects like Abrahamic law, transgender issues, and myriad other things which other branches of the religion are far more progressive and analytical about, but that would derail the subject. In summary, just as Nietzsche doesn't speak for atheists, I would rather not have these charlatans on TV speak for me.

Scientists back in Alexander the Great days DID NOT believe the world was flat; in fact, a majority of the population knew the world was spherical.

The greatest misconception in history (world was flat) is a misconception!

Misconceptinception!

pearcinator:
Scientists back in Alexander the Great days DID NOT believe the world was flat; in fact, a majority of the population knew the world was spherical.

The greatest misconception in history (world was flat) is a misconception!

Misconceptinception!

Amen to that, though you've been ninja'ed already. ;-)

Jacco:
Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I would give you a cookie if I could. Far too many people believe simply wrong things about history. This is one of them.

The other one that really irks me is that people often think that our ancestors were backward podunk inept monkeys or something and that they attributed everything ever to gods or demons or whatever. They did not. They understood the natural world just like we do, the only difference being that they couldn't necessarily explain it. But a tornado was part of a storm, not God's wrath.

Yep. Add to this the urban legend that the Middle Ages was an age without scientific progress or that the Church was trying to stop scientists from doing their job (the Galileo example is so full of sh*t when one actually looks at the real situation and the causes of the whole affairs instead of adopting the romantic version). What's next? We use 10% of our brain only? *rolls his eyes*

Rufus Shinra:

Amen to that, though you've been ninja'ed already. ;-)

So you did; I just read the opening sentence and was like "nooope!" and had to say something lol.

Early CPR techniques also involved blowing air up someone's butthole.

Heck, my dad had to do a physics exam where he had to reproduce the professors theory about why landing on the moon was proven to be impossible, in the very year the Apollo missions landed on the actual moon.

Looking at how backwards we now view all of those things, I can't help but feel claims like: "We'll know everything there is to know soon and be right about everything!", by certain scientists are pretty ridiculous as well.

I feel like in a couple of hundred years (if we survive as a species), we'll have these kinds of topics again, debunking a number of our current theories.

Wow... lots of replies here... Okay, let's go!

Jacco:

For having such a detailed grasp of science and the scientific method, your last comment confuses me. Nothing is science is ever proven. It is only disproven.

I don't disagree with that. Possibly my sentence didn't parse well for you. In this case, something proveably false is something disproven, as you say.

Sgt. Sykes:

Except we still have no idea about some completely basic stuff, such as:
- what was before the big bang?
- how many dimensions exist?
- why does physics work completely differently on small vs. large scales?
- is matter real or is it a hologram, or vibrations of strings, or whatever?
- are we alone in space?
- what is sentience?
- how did life appear?

Those are questions just as fundamental as whether the Earth is round or flat, and there are countless serious theories for each of them - most of which will be debunked sooner or later.

There is no distinction between 'then' and 'now' - progress is gradual and some of the things we believe in now can be proven invalid in 10 years, and looked at with laughter in 100 years.

History of science is full of monks, priests and nuns who progressed science by leaps.

None of that conflicts with what I said. We aren't claiming that we do know any of that for certain. In some cases there are hypotheses and even theories, but modern science works on the basis of skepticism, so we are always testing to refine our understanding of reality.

As for that last part, I'm not sure what that has to do with what I said. I never claimed that you couldn't be religious and scientific at the same time.

Lord Garnaat:

The idea that religion is or has always been opposed to scientific progress is completely and demonstrably false - it's simply not supported by historical fact.

The first man to theorize about life "germinating" or "evolving" over a long period of time (as opposed to being created either all at once or within a short time span) was Saint Augustine, who also made it clear that Genesis was likely meant to be allegorical. This was back in the 300s-400s AD.

The whole reason why any of the scientific knowledge of the Classical period survived the collapse of the Roman Empire was because of the Catholic Church preserving it, and the only reason technology was able to move forward during that time period was because of the education and literacy promoted by the Church. Same goes for the huge leaps forward in astronomy and archtecture made by the Muslims. For centuries, nearly every major advancement in scientific thought came either religious officials or being working closely with the Church, and that includes Newton, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo. The first man to discover genetics was an Augustine monk, and the first man to hypothesize about the existence of the Big Bang was a priest.

This isn't to say that the religious and scientific consensus haven't disagreed in the past, but the vast majority of the time they've worked closely together to achieve progress.

The idea that the Catholic Church safeguarded classical knowledge through the Middle Ages isn't entirely accurate. In fact, most of the scientific and artistic knowledge that led to the Renaissance came not from the Catholics at all, but rather from Greek emigrants that fled the fall of Constantinople in 1453. After all, much "Roman" knowledge was actually Greek knowledge first, and the Greeks(calling themselves Romans) did not fall with the rest of Rome. I'm not saying that the Catholic church played no part; certainly the Italians were ahead of the curve, with the beginnings of the Rennaisance starting even before the fall of the Byzantine Empire. But to lay all or even most of the credit at their feet does a disservice to the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire.

Regardless, my actual question had little to do with science. Rather, I was curious what steps different religions have taken to advance or refine doctrine in the face of science. Do religions continue to insist on dogmatic explanations for phenomena for which we already have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or do they, as you suggest, redefine that which was previously taken to be literal as allegorical as our understanding of the mundane evolves? Not being religious myself, this is a serious question that I wonder about, not an attempt to mock religion.

Nieroshai:
To be fair, at least where we are referring to Christianity (which is pretty much the only mainstream religion I've studied; I mostly study ancient religions no longer in practice) the debate stands whether the first section of Genesis isn't in the same tune as many of the prophetic books, as in purely allegorical. Also, to be fair, many supporters of Creationism as it's pitched can't quote much else of the Bible, no less Acts, the only book I have memorized word for word.
Those in Religion who stand by tradition and culture instead of their actual religion texts do a disservice to their Faith by claiming evidence where there may be allegory. I could go on about subjects like Abrahamic law, transgender issues, and myriad other things which other branches of the religion are far more progressive and analytical about, but that would derail the subject. In summary, just as Nietzsche doesn't speak for atheists, I would rather not have these charlatans on TV speak for me.

Understood, and what I said above more or less applies here. I do get what you mean though. It would be no fairer to claim untrained armchair theoligians as representative of religious understanding than it would to take the internet meanderings of uneducated laymen as representative of the scientific community.

Rufus Shinra:

Yep. Add to this the urban legend that the Middle Ages was an age without scientific progress or that the Church was trying to stop scientists from doing their job (the Galileo example is so full of sh*t when one actually looks at the real situation and the causes of the whole affairs instead of adopting the romantic version). What's next? We use 10% of our brain only? *rolls his eyes*

I think the misconceptions about the Middle Ages come from modern ideas about the 1300's, which was undoubtedly a shitty time to be alive. But the 1000 or so years before that were a relatively prosperous and peaceful time of human history. Then the plague came and destroyed it all. And I agree. Galileo kind of brought that on himself.

The 10% thing always gives me a chuckle especially since my two degrees are in psychology And history.

Ummm excuse me but NASA just confirmed the Expanding planet/moon theory as possible. If it shrinks, it can expand. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/shrinking-moon.html

 

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