The Gollum effect in science

Image: Tycho Brahe, Skokloster Castle, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a new episode of Future IDshost Andrew McDiarmid sits down with historian and philosopher of science Michael Keas to discuss a recent article on Times Higher Education, “My Precious! How Gollums in Academia Keep Their Research Fields. The article examines how scientific progress is hindered by a culture in which scientists jealously guard their research instead of sharing it. Keas says the problem seems to have gotten worse in recent years, but it’s not new. It illustrates with the story of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.

Brahe, a 16th century Danish astronomer, sat on his astronomical research for years, rather than sharing it with Johannes Kepler, his assistant. Kepler only got hold of it when Brahe died suddenly shortly after a banquet. Rumors began that Brahe may have been poisoned to free access to his research, data that ultimately allowed Kepler to make his groundbreaking breakthrough, his Three Laws of Planetary Motion that confirmed the case for a model of the sun-centered universe.

Keas explains what a subsequent autopsy revealed about Brahe’s cause of death. And he discusses some modern power games involving evolutionists jealously guarding the Darwinian paradigm against those who would challenge it. Finally, Keas lists some of the virtues that can help advance science, including generosity and a humble willingness to listen to criticism.

Download the podcast or listen to it here. For more startling facts from the history of science, see Keas’s recent book, Incredible: 7 myths about the history and future of science and religion.

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Evolution News and Science Today (EN) provides original reports and analysis on evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design, and other science-related issues, including the latest news on scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and the conflicts around freedom of expression and academic freedom in science. Finally, it verifies and criticizes media coverage of scientific issues.

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Key words

AcademiaAndrew McDiarmidastronomersautopsybanquetDarwinian theoryevolutionistsGollumHistoryhistory of scienceJohannes KeplerMichael KeasScienceTimes Higher EducationTycho BraheAmazing

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