Resistance to innovation
I continue to be mesmerised by the almost total lack of response to this series of published papers. Is it a concerted attempt to avoid handing credit to this author or is it a peculiar "emergent" property of a society of scientists that leads to a total indifference to the challenge? I don't think that I can have laid out the challenge more forcefully. It is clear that it has reached the threshold of being noticed by a number of key immunologists (all the participants of the "Sense of self debate" were aware of it). It was even mentioned (but not cited) in the preamble of this debate. It was referred to by Langman and Cohn (to be dismissed as wrong – see the Google Scholar citations of my writing) and by Zlatko Dembic in two articles (in Molecular Immunology and in The Immunologist). And that seems to be about it.
Whether by chance or by design, every time that it has reached a threshold of being noticed by a journal or web site, the original correspondence has soon been withdrawn from continuous archiving and the site or journal has been taken over or even withdrawn (The Immunologist). The debate in Seminars in Immunology – around paradigms in immunology – managed to refrain from any mention of the morphostasis papers. The "danger" camp have refrained from making any mention of the morphostasis hypothesis – though they are aware of it.
Perhaps one of these days I will find out why it is so important that this set of ideas must NOT be brought to the attention of a widespread readership for them to make up their own minds.
Effectively, it seems to have been "rubbished" by neglect rather than by logical argument. And that is the most effective strategy that "normal science" has for dealing with those upstarts who provoke worrying challenges to reigning paradigms. And the longer it goes on, the more prescient the original assumptions become. So, why is it so important NOT to address this challenge full on? After all, it is either largely right or largely wrong. Airing the ideas is the best way of establishing their potential value. Airing them does not admit they are right, it just opens out the query and ensures that many more workers will be tempted into exploring the potential merits and demerits. Does it really need to take going-on-20 years (30 if we go from the earliest submissions) to bring a fresh concept to maturity? Or is this delay largely "stick-in-the-mud"? I propose that science should open itself to the airing of radical ideas – right or wrong – because this is how we can more effectively identify hidden assumptions. The overarching process of "debris management" vs "hunting and killing micro-organisms" is still, virtually, ignored. I don't crave credit for me. I crave credit for a powerful perception that has matured way beyond my conjectures ("power", here, as in explicatory, manipulative and predictive power).
Web sites on resistance
There are a number of web sites out there that concentrate on this trend to resistance in science. What is particularly clear is that social power, not scientific principle, plays a domineering role in the process.
- "Closeminded science".
- "The plight of the obscure innovator in science".
- "Exclusion Of Diversity And Creativity Impedes Scientific Innovation".
- "Discouraging hypotheses slows progress" (no longer archived, The Scientist, Nov. 26, 1990, page 13)
- ..... to be completed ....... ?