ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

More Myth of Mechanism

Let me strongly second the view of T.V. Rajan1 (June 25, 2001) that a lack of understanding of mechanism should not invalidate the recognition of scientific phenomena. The most egregious example of mechanistic thinking impeding scientific progress is that of continental drift. Alfred Wegener in Germany (1910) and F. B. Taylor in America (1908) proposed this theory, but lack of a plausible mechanism prevented most geologists from accepting the hypothesis for 50 years despite the obvious fit of th

Thomas Strom
Let me strongly second the view of T.V. Rajan1 (June 25, 2001) that a lack of understanding of mechanism should not invalidate the recognition of scientific phenomena. The most egregious example of mechanistic thinking impeding scientific progress is that of continental drift. Alfred Wegener in Germany (1910) and F. B. Taylor in America (1908) proposed this theory, but lack of a plausible mechanism prevented most geologists from accepting the hypothesis for 50 years despite the obvious fit of the continents of Africa and South America. Only the discovery of sea floor spreading in the 1960s turned the tide. A plausible mechanism, convection currents, later followed, but the mechanism lagged the recognition of the phenomenon. Theories need to fit facts, not the reverse.
E. Thomas Strom, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Texas at Arlington
Box 19065
Arlington, TX 76019-0065
1. T.V. Rajan, "The...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT