The Sciences

You, Sir, Are No Galileo

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyDec 3, 2009 8:07 PM


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Over at the rightwing Wall Street Journal editorial page, Daniel Henninger is invoking Galileo and painting the Swifthack episode as an "epochal event":

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

Alas, there are quite a few things Henninger is forgetting about Galileo. Among other matters, the Tuscan sage doesn't merely symbolize "dissent in science," as Henninger puts it. The people who dissented in the history of science, but were overwhelmingly wrong, tend to be forgotten. Galileo dissented and he happened to be overwhelmingly right (about the whole Earth-sun thing, anyway--let's, er, forget that theory of the tides). All of which kinda makes for a huge difference between Galileo and the climate skeptics.

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