Why Everybody Should Be Familiar with Tycho Brahe's Blunder

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Why Everybody Should Be Familiar with Tycho Brahe's Blunder  Empty Why Everybody Should Be Familiar with Tycho Brahe's Blunder

Post by Guest on Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:13 pm

David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington; he is writing a book about paradigms lost.

Tycho Brahe lived with a hand-crafted nose made of brass, after his real one was sliced off in a duel. Of greater interest than this anatomical peculiarity, however, is Brahe’s intellectual anomaly – which turns out to be not that unusual after all. Tycho Brahe was a renowned 16th century Danish astronomer and a great empirical scientist whose data were used to formulate Johannes Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion.

Confronted with irrefutable evidence that the known planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) revolved around the Sun, Brahe was nonetheless committed to the prevailing biblical view of a geocentric universe. So he devised an ingenious model in which those planets indeed revolved around the Sun ... but with the resulting conglomeration obediently circling a central and immobile Earth!

Modern versions of Brahe’s Blunder abound, in which people accept – begrudgingly – what is undeniable, while nonetheless desperately clinging to their pre-existing beliefs: what they want to be true. Recent prominent cases include granting that the Earth’s climate is heating up (the data are as clear as that confirming planetary orbits), but refusing to accept that human beings are responsible, or agreeing that evolution is real (when it comes to microbial antibiotic resistance, for example) but denying that it produced human beings. A good paradigm is a tough thing to lose.

- See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/153646#sthash.vdg1kEN1.dpuf

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