A hypothetical situation.

(As a newbie at CFI, one prefaces this with a sincere apology if it’s been mis-placed.)

Supposing that a traditionally-trained pure STEM scientist, one sans any Arts/Humanities dimensions whatsoever to any of her/his degrees, arrived at something interesting during the course of persistent & dogged inquiry, something that could seemingly have strong implications across a range of both scientific & humanities disciplines, as well as for ordinary people’s perceptions, would the said individual scientist be expected to do the kindest thing and try hard in the wording to not shock/upset or let-down anybody (thinking particularly here of people having strong religious & especially creationist views), or should s/he attempt to find collaborators with complementary expertises in order to ‘round-out’ the thing prior to publication, or should s/he just release it to a peer-reviewed journal in her/his own area of expertise and let matters take their own natural course in the buffeting world of vigorous criticism & debate?

that is a very complex scenario. I suspect there is an example out there somewhere that would help. Maybe you could expand on what kind of impact on the humanities you mean.

There are quasi-exemples in the past, in medicine, when it was discovered that the blood circulated or that microbes existed, in astronomy, when it was proved that earth is not the center of universe, in paleontology and geology, when it was proved that earth was older than the Bible told. The difference is that the scientists had some knowledge in humanities.

Would have it been possible to soften the blow, to not hurt the feelings of believers ? I ma afraid that in these cases, any way it would have been released, the truth would have shocked people, even scientists.

Many believers prefer faith to science …




Ok, let’s suppose that it was something which was stumbled across, by not less than two independent Pasteurian chances, by one priorly top-of-her/his class in a STEM (‘hard science’) field, & sufficiently well-qualified (& duly title-privileged) in their own field to be able to recognise its apparent import right-off-the-bat, and that the thing is relatively simple & straightforward to explain, even to non-specialists, and that it would appear to markedly affect (increase the value of) one of the crucial parameters (factors) in the celebrated ‘Drake Equation;’ something that one might expect to be of great & positive interest to fellow scientists, but which would almost certainly constitute highly disturbing news to people holding to ‘creationist’ type views. Essentially then, how could a boring scientist introduce such a thing into discourse, without seriously challenging/offending/upsetting religious fundamentalists and bringing their wrath down upon her/his head.

A) Don’t know what “Pasteurian chances” are

B) There is no way to know what will upset a fundamentalist. That is practically by definition.

I’m going with the 1910 basis of the word, where it was coined. Anything before that was just dogma by some Pope or Imam or whatever, that was unchallenged because of the political climate and lack of power of scientific thinking. That pamphlet was an attempt to delineate what was “fundamental” to Christianity. It required no consensus, no data, no debate was done, no review, just some guys got together and did it. There is no way you could find all the groups of guys in the world that do things like that, and figure out how to upset none of them.

C) All of the values in the Drake equation are speculative.

We are way past the 1950’s sci-fi movie scenario where the government covers up the alien landing because it would “cause a general panic”.

It is the job of science to be boring. Present your evidence, get your methods reviewed. Let the world figure out the impact.

Religious support for science has waxed and waned. We are near the end of a period when the suppression of science caused great suffering and shaped the political landscape. At least I hope we are at the end. Because we are most effected by that, it is popular to denigrate all of religion throughout history. This period began sometime around the 14th century. Before that, Muslims applied science to farming and architecture and scientists in the Vatican were studying the stars and biology.



It’s kind of you to have taken the time to respond on here. (A.) Louis Pasteur (of whom a bronze bust by Horace Daillion presides over this desk) once exhorted & regaled his students with his “chance favors the prepared mind” method of scientific problem-solving, by which he seemed to mean that everything that one sees/hears/reads/browses/etc. bears in some indefinable & mysteriously subconscious way upon the particular problem that one earnestly desires to solve, until at last (hopefully) one achieves, by dint of stubborn persistence, a breakthrough in one’s thinking on the matter & thereby (again hopefully) a unique and hitherto unrealised solution. (B.) Having had disappointing interactions with creationists in the past because of the focus of one’s work, it’s these kinds of people’s attacks & animosity that one would particularly wish to avoid. (C.) An informed & significant increase in the estimation of the value for just one of the Equation’s various terms is all that the present hypothetical situation could afford; and yes, the values accorded to the various parameters (factors) do indeed vary by each exponent’s expertises & background.

About Louis Pasteur : before working upon a vaccine against rabies, he worked upon a vaccine against hen cholera: Summer 1879, back from holidays, he realized that souchs of the microbe, let aside during the time, injected to hens did not made them sick.

Penicillin has been discovered by Fleming, by accident, yes and no …

Antiseptic proprieties of mold had been known for some time.


He discovered it by accident, yes


This shows that a discovery is useless if the society is not ready to accept it. In fact, even if it hurts the " common knowledge " or the " revealed truths", it is accepted by the majority of people, even with difficulties, if enough people are ready for it. If a true need exists, it finishes to be accepted.

Sometimes it is very hard. In France there is a song which say, " the first who say the truth must be executed …"

A famous exemple is the one of the doctors, which found, in the 19th, found that asepsis and cleaness could prevent puerperal fever . They were ridiculed and the Viennese doctor who implemented it, Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, was so treated that he had a nervous breakdown, was sent in asylum and died there.







This shows that a discovery is useless if the society is not ready to accept it.
The example are showing what has happened in the past. The question was about something happening now. Pretty much anything coming out of science is going to be met with a conspiracy theory. In most cases, those are fringe. No scientist should change how they publish their data based on those reactions.

I assume you’re talking about yourself, so just out with it, no need to hide behind the whole “a friend of mine has this problem…”. If you have what you think is a big idea and you’re associated with some community of experts, just talk to them about it. If you’re not so connected, you should seek out someone at a university who might be willing to listen a bit. Unfortunately in this day and age, and the incredible specialization that has occurred, I’ll bet twenty five people minimum have had the same idea as your “big idea”. But you’ll never know unless you ask someone, anyone, considered an expert.

Just thought I’d throw this into the mix




That article seems to be positing that Life is prone to extinguishing itself entirely on any given planet, which isn’t at all what’s expected scientifically as a consequence of things like climate change, pollution, or nuclear wars; instancing extremophiles, one expects that “red in tooth and claw” Life, at least microbially, will survive on Earth (for example) regardless of how badly Humankind (or a conceivable alien intelligence) affects the climate, pollutes, or unleashes nuclear weapons’ power & radioactive fallout. Thus one would allow for cyclical evolutionary re-arisings of intelligent civilizations (e.g., the 500+Ma from the first multicellular Life on Earth (e.g., Ediacaran-type) up to our own species).

To thank @cuthbertj for taking the time to write kindly up above. Safely suppose that one’d be perfectly happy had 25 persons arrived at the same thing long-previously. Further suppose that one has discussed this thing with a good several eminent scientists (including two NLs), that both an American STEM prof & a British philosopher wrote about it back at its promising but only 80%-finished point, and that one does indeed wish to avoid being “executed” in the public domain, quite as @morgankane01 has prophetically mentioned up above. So does anyone know if there might be a well-vetted (i.e., competently-edited, & with rock-solid STEM members on the Board) “freethinker” type journal somewhere that might be willing to receive a m/s under a pseudonym?

good several eminent scientists (including two NLs)
I would ask them. If they're eminent, they must have published some heavy weight papers in respected peer reviewed journals.

But honestly, why not just present your idea here, in layman’s terms. Realistically it doesn’t matter where you submit your idea, there’s always a chance someone will steal it without you knowing, including respected journals. That’s just the way it is.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you went through all this only to present, say, this idea: people from the future have found a way to transfer their consciousness into 21st century people and you know how. And they’re currently working to make changes in history to prevent a future disaster. WOW! What a novel idea you’ve presented! Except that it’s already been trotted out as a TV series, one that your eminent scientists hadn’t heard about. Waa waa waa.

Many thanks for your wise words. Indeed, you’re quite correct that ideas-appropriators (to use the most generous term) do exist among scientists (e.g., the RNA World conception). Anyhow, not owning/watching TV, and consequently being ignorant of the wiles of producers’ imaginations, am probably disqualified herein by being too boring. So it might perhaps be best to close & sign-off here by wishing this Forum’s Membership a very happy, Covid-safe, prosperous, & successful 2021.

No scientist should change how they publish their data based on those reactions.
In a rational sober world that would be true.

Having a long familiarity with the Anthropogenic Global Warming science vs corporate media effort and public disinformation campaigns, there are many instances where public pressure caused scientists to adjust their science to down play the seriousness of our situation…

The great global warming pause and all the handwringing over, tiny chump in local reading - while ignoring the unassailable fact that it’s the upper atmosphere where manmade CO2 was doing its work, 24/7/365.

Then there’s the Templeton Foundation, whom I’m just starting to get a little familiar with and their mission to inject woo and god back into science has been amazing successful as Hoffman’s popularity demonstrates.


Although I am totally down with Bodes’ “Pasteurian chances,” and was pleased to see that he defined it exactly as I was imagining it - “chance favors the prepared mind”

Goes hand in hand with something I wrote recently,

Our answers are limited by the quality of our questions!

Genuine understanding about our natural world is an emergent property driven by the inflow of honest quality facts and evidence. All else is dancing within our minds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just stop being blind to the supremacy of physical reality!


Finding answers?

I advocate for the simple act of doing your homework and seriously learning about “Wet” Evolution, the dance of geology and biology through Deep Time. Take the time to digest and absorb the lessons modern science has to offer and I guarantee you a cascade of new insights. Insights your mind achieved for itself. Sure beats endlessly repeating new versions of ancient dog-chasing-tail arguments.

Learning is hard scrabble, at times it’s humiliating and it hurts, but that’s life, suck it up, and move forward. Process ALL the information at hand and allow the evidence to drive your understanding, knowing full well that additional information will help refine whatever it is you know today.

It demands curiosity, honesty, self skepticism, along with a self-starter attitude toward acquiring and processing information, whether attending university or for personal avocation. Including arguments and evidence that disputes what we’ve learned to believe, because those are our real learning opportunities.

Show fidelity to honesty and the process, its experiences, and the satisfaction of solid understanding will outshine the facade of ego - which in turn, allows us a more sober secure appreciation of our selves and our place in the universe, at this moment.

Don’t want to derail this tread, it has been an interesting read. But I like putting solid evidence behind my attitude, so if anyone feels like the above is baloney - please first do a Google search for “Corporate dirty tricks pressured scientists to downplay climate science” - and do a little self-education on the sorry history of how deception for fun and profit has distorted facts and misrepresented what scientists have learned. But it goes way beyond global warming. You can look up how the sugar industry forced FAT to become the health bad guy, when sugar is fair less necessary and carries far more health dangers, than fat.

The Disinformation Playbook How Business Interests Deceive, Misinform, and Buy Influence at the Expense of Public Health and Safety

Updated May 18, 2018


Just look at the old cigarette ads

“More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”

“As your Dentist, I would recommend Viceroys”

… and all the “positive” affects of nicotine.


So it might perhaps be best to close & sign-off here by wishing this Forum’s Membership a very happy, Covid-safe, prosperous, & successful 2021.
I wish the same for you, and want to take the opportunity to commend you on your courteous and serious presentation, regardless of its accuracy. I hope you will stick around and participate in the various conversations. We can always use a fresh non-dogmatic outlook on the world. Be well and safe!

You are so right. It’s incumbent on all of us to be respectful, but obviously, some of us aren’t.