Scenarios of Suppression

green and white leafed plantsScenarios of Suppression

/Field Note

“Coincidences are a true paradox… on the one hand they seem to be the source of our greatest irrationalities–seeing causal connections when science tells us they aren’t there. On the other hand, some of our greatest feats of scientific discovery depend on coincidences.” – Josh Tenenbaum, quoted in The Power of Coincidence.

When seeking to determine the extent of suppression of scientific research and technological development, there is a considerable range in the scenarios presented.

At one end of the spectrum, we have what might easily be classified as “conspiracy theories.” Here we have the claims that workable technologies and discoveries have already been made and that these have somehow been withheld or buried, often as the result of threats and even the suspicious deaths of researchers.

Here’s a trailer I found on YouTube this gives an example of this type of extreme scenario:

Stepping away from the most extreme scenarios, one finds a different notion. The idea here is that promising lines of research — work that could result in major breakthroughs — are being thwarted by withholding funding and other forms of scientific support.

As Brian Martin wrote in Stamping Out Dissent, “Textbooks present science as a noble search for truth, in which progress depends on questioning established ideas. But for many scientists, this is a cruel myth. They know from bitter experience that disagreeing with the dominant view is dangerous – especially when that view is backed by powerful interest groups. Call it suppression of intellectual dissent. The usual pattern is that someone does research or speaks out in a way that threatens a powerful interest group, typically a government, industry or professional body. As a result, representatives of that group attack the critic’s ideas or the critic personally-by censoring writing, blocking publications, denying appointments or promotions, withdrawing research grants, taking legal actions, harassing, blacklisting, spreading rumors.”

In this category, we see moves on the part of academics and scientists to push forward despite serious obstacles. The work of the Society of Scientific Exploration is but one example of this.

As Thomas Gold wrote in his essay, New Ideas in Science, “The pace of scientific work continues to accelerate, but the question is whether the pace of discovery will continue to accelerate. If we were driving in the wrong direction-in the direction where no new ideas can be accepted-then even if scientific work goes on, the progress would be stifled. I am not suggesting that we are in quite such a disastrous position, but on the other hand, I am not going to suggest that all is well.”

Henry H. Bauer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, wrote in Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels:

“In effect, there exist knowledge monopolies composed of international and national bureaucracies. Since those same organizations play a large role in the funding of research as well as in the promulgation of findings, these monopolies are at the same time research cartels. Minority views are not published in widely read periodicals, and unorthodox work is not supported by the main funding organizations. Instead of disinterested peer review, mainstream insiders insist on their point of view in order to perpetuate their prestige and privileged positions.”

Finally, at the bottom of the scale, we have the possibility that breakthroughs or legitimate scientific work (and by legitimate here, I mean a real search for truth — the fundamental mission of science) and technological breakthroughs that are being ignored because the investigator is not part of the accredited scientific community, doesn’t have qualifications, etc.

Much is not credible when one enters this bottom arena. But what is interesting purely from a sociological perspective is that often people in this range will claim to be victims of conspiratorial types of suppression in an effort to given themselves enhanced credibility.

Or rather than present solid evidence for their claims, they will instead seek to focus attention on general suppression theories or ideas as represented above.

Here is but one example of just that, again found on YouTube:

It is perhaps hard to believe that people would find any reason to give much credence to this kind of presentation. However, it seems some people are ready to believe almost anything. (And here I’m talking in generalities rather than pointing a finger at this particular instance.)

– Blake Harris

Lead photo by Álvaro Ibáñez. CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

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