Scientists: Romantics and Classicists

In 1974 science author Lewis S. Feur published a book for the ages. Einstein and the Generations of Science reveals how scientists are influenced by their philosophical biases. Feur credited Wilhelm Ostwalt with being the first observer to divide the scientific community into two fundamental philosophical camps: the classicists and the romantics.
It was Ostwalt’s observation that romantics tend to be more filled with enthusiasm. He said they fully embrace a wider range of ideas. And one of the most notable tendencies of scientists who exhibit romantic leanings is their need to develop disciples. For these reasons and a few others Ostwalt said romantics within the scientific community tend to become generalists and migrate towards teaching positions. They are the larger of the two philosophical camps.
Albert Einstein
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the classicists. According to Ostwalt, this group of scientists is a much more reserved lot. Classicists also tend to be much more single-minded in their purposes. Unlike the romantics they don’t seem to have a need for followers. And in their approach to their work, the classicists are much more likely to devote an entire scientific career to solving just one or two problems. Ostwalt said classicists are never in a hurry to publish. In fact, he suggested they will wait years, perhaps even decades until all mathematical and experimental processes have been thoroughly completed before even proposing a theory for consideration by their peers. Feur listed Sir Issac Newton, Albert Einstein, and even Charles Darwin as good examples of scientific classicists.
One of the defining aspects of all dedicated scientists, regardless of their philosophical leanings, is their agreement on how any scientific “theory” becomes transformed into accepted scientific “fact.” Regardless of a scientist’s inclination towards either a romantic or classicist approach, until a prediction postulated by a theory is confirmed through a strict empirical verification process, it will always remain a theory. Feur cited the case of Albert Einstein as perfect example. Einstein was particularly reluctant to declare his theory of General Relativity to be scientific fact until after Sir Arthur Eddington’s 1919 solar eclipse expedition provided irrefutable empirical verification of the predictions postulated as part of his “theory.”
A reading of Einstein and the Generations of Science helps put the raging debate around the current scientific theory of man-caused global warming into proper context, particularly on a philosophical level. Modern day scientific romantics were the very first to embrace the theory of man-caused global warming. Given the marvels of academic teaching freedom and a few decades of indoctrinating students, the romantics have now created a virtual army of disciples embracing man-caused global warming theory.
Unfortunately for 21st Century scientific romantics, the predictability of man-caused global warming failed to materialize. Previously unable to prove that the gradual global temperature warming trend was man-caused, now for more than a decade, the actual trend of global temperatures has actually flattened if not reversed.
Ever resourceful when short on scientific verification of predictability, the romantics have simply adapted their theory. Man-Caused “Climate Change” has replaced “warming.” While retaining CO-2 as the enemy (fossil fuels), this rebranding is a bold marketing stroke in that it allows for a much more generalized version of the original theory. Climate change is so brilliantly vague it is not reliant on scientific verification.
With this clever new approach the romantics hope they can continue to gather additional disciples, particularly within the non-scientific elements of society that control grant purse strings.
Notwithstanding the army of man-caused climate change disciples dominating the drumbeats sounded by the media, select politicians, and pop culture icons, scientific romantics are finding the going pretty tough at conferences involving scientists only. At these fact-oriented venues, true scientific debates rage regarding the validity of these freshly modified theories.
Nobel Laureate - Ivar Giaver
Still, lubricated by billions of dollars worth of government grants made possible by disciples with power in the political world, romantics remain well-funded enthusiasts. And until recently, the romantics were confident they were also winning the publicity battle outside of the scientific community.
However, recent public opinion polls suggest public skepticism is starting to mirror that of those pesky scientific classicists. Learned Nobel laureates like Dr. Ivar Giaver and other accomplished physicists continue to insist on empirical verification of the predictive aspects of the so-called man-caused climate change theory. Undeterred by zealous romantics who have been caught suppressing the publishing of fact-based dissent and who brazenly label anyone disagreeing with their theories as “deniers,” the classicist wing of the scientific community remains steadfast. They understand the conversion of a scientific theory to a scientific fact requires predictability through empirical verification. And thankfully for all of science, suppression of dissent, sloppy data handling, manipulating for political favor, and engaging in shameless non-scientific public relations battles are still not part of the Scientific Method.



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