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  •  Why did Linus Pauling (29+ / 0-)

    believe that vitamin C cured everything, even cancer and AIDS, even in light of evidence that it didn't?  Intelligent people are as vulnerable to self-delusion as anyone else.  We all have our blind sides.

    -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

    by gizmo59 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:10:22 PM PDT

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    •  Isaac Newton spent much of his later years (15+ / 0-)

      when he wasn't tracking down counterfeiters (great story there) or defending his primacy of the calculus, doing alchemy, and writing crackpot theories about the Bible.

      Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

      by JeffSCinNY on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:15:05 PM PDT

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      •  I believe alchemy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hawkseye, bartcopfan

        is gaining a little more credibility these days as we learn more about what its practitioners actually did.  IIRC it was illegal with severe punishments, so what we have long known about it is thought not to very well represent the body of work.

        And even if there were some screwy ideas involved, generating hypotheses is a creative endeavor that benefits from including, not excluding, far-out ideas.  Think of all of the scientific advances that have depended on someone's coming along and seeing the problem differently from everyone else.  That doesn't happen if you criticize every idea according to current belief before even trying it out.

        •  From what I know about alchemy, (5+ / 0-)

          which is admittedly not much, it was not really practiced as a science, but more like a religion.  Those learning the discipline received the wisdom of their teachers and from ancient texts without question.

          This began to change around the time of Paracelsus, who insisted on science based on observation rather than simply following directions from ancient texts.  That would correspond to the early Renaissance.

          -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

          by gizmo59 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:01:20 PM PDT

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        •  Alchemy is not gaining any credibility! (6+ / 0-)

          Alchemy is the idea that you can turn one element into another.  For example, lead into gold.  Other than radioactive decay, this does not happen.

        •  Rec'd for this.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest
          And even if there were some screwy ideas involved, generating hypotheses is a creative endeavor that benefits from including, not excluding, far-out ideas.  Think of all of the scientific advances that have depended on someone's coming along and seeing the problem differently from everyone else.  That doesn't happen if you criticize every idea according to current belief before even trying it out.

          "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

          by bartcopfan on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:56:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I seem to recall reading somewhere (9+ / 0-)

        that 90 % of Newton's writings were on the Bible, which is stunning when you realize that his most important contributions to the world had nothing to do with what he spent most of his time doing.  It makes one wonder what more he might have done had he devoted all his energy toward physics and mathematics.

        -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

        by gizmo59 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:42:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Probably got bored (9+ / 0-)

          Newton was unbelievably brilliant;  there was no one living who was really on his level, and arrogant bastard that he was, he knew it, too.  I'd guess that his feud with Leibnitz needs to be seen in this light; he probably couldn't believe that some piker from the Germanies might have bested him on this, and he damn well wasn't going to use that piker's notation to do math he thought up himself.

          It took a long time before people understood his work well enough to get the basics.  So, from his point of view, since he solved the whole celestial motion problem, he went on to other endeavors.

          Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

          by mbayrob on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:15:59 PM PDT

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          •  except that Leibniz was no piker (6+ / 0-)

            He was one of the few people in Europe, ( maybe the Bernoullis' too) who could think on his level. He spoke 5 languages, including Latin and Greek, and was a diplomat also. He also wrote a book of philosophy and metaphysics, that was the basis for Voltaire writing "Candide"

            Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

            by JeffSCinNY on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 05:55:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So Leibnitz was Pangloss! (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't know that!  Voltaire was pretty merciless on Leibnitz' philosophy, though.  Perhaps he should have stuck to math?

              -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

              by gizmo59 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:49:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  For Newton, even a genius like Leibnitz (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bartcopfan, RiveroftheWest

              There's a lot of suspicion among historians of science that no -- not even Leibnitz, nor the Bernoullis ("I recognize the lion by his paw.", as brother John once said) -- were full really competition for that guy.  Lacking it, they suspect that as astonishing as Newton's output in physics turned out to be, that he underachieved what he was capable of.  

              Lebnitz and the Bernoullis certainly were all great mathematicians, and certainly peers of Newton in that area, even if Newton likely didn't consider them competition, Newton being Newton.  But Newton's output in physics goes beyond the math behind it.  Like a number of great physicists,  he could often see the solutions of problems before he did the math, something a friend of mine once called "physical intuition".  It was simply unreal, what he was able to accomplish in optics, in putting the laws of motion on a firm basis,  and his work on gravitation and celestial mechanics.  And many areas in math, as well.

              Not a nice guy.  A very strange guy.  But very likely the most brilliant scientist who ever lived, excepting perhaps only Archimedes, who appears to have figured out most of calculus, almost 2000 years before either Newton or Leibnitz.  

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:57:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure he would agree with you (0+ / 0-)

          about the relative importance of his various work.

          Personally, I am quite happy that he chose to spend as much time on science as he did.

          BTW, if you ever have a bit of time to kill, read Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.  Incredibly good fiction, as you would expect.

      •  mercury poisoning. (5+ / 0-)

        A great deal of his alchemical experiments would have led to an inevitable mental decline. There's only so much lead and mercury your kidneys can clear. It wasn't like they actually knew about chemical safety in those days ('sugar of lead' i.e. lead acetate was an acceptable ingredient in candy through the late 1800's).

    •  Pauling, vitamin C, and cancer. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      Evidence requires proper interpretation. It turns out Pauling was most likely on the right side.

      It has only recently been realized that the "controversy" over the inability to replicate a beneficial effect of vitamin C in reducing cancer growth was due almost entirely to a difference in the mode of administration employed in the initial and follow up studies.

      Positive effects were seen when ascorbate was administered intravenously (first study), no effects were seen after oral administration (the so called attempts at replication).

      Why this difference was ignored at the time is unclear.  We know now that it is very difficult to raise serum levels of ascorbate beyond a certain point by ingesting vitamin C.  In order to achieve very high levels it is necessary to  bypass the gut and go straight to the blood stream.  Those very high levels are required to "kill cancer".

      There is current active investigation of IV ascorbate in cancer and other diseases, all of which seems quite promising.

      For more information search Pub med for parenteral ascorbate and cancer, or read the following.

      Losing and finding a way at C: New promise for pharmacologic
      ascorbate in cancer treatment

      Everyone born after Star Wars came out is basically a Democrat. -- Save The Clock Tower

      by jotter on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:38:30 PM PDT

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