Explanations from Rapid Change in Science

In the video below, beginning at the 4-minute mark, Bret and Heather bring up the story of Dry Falls. This is an interesting story that demonstrates the way explanations from rapid change are viewed in the academy and in science.

The story of Dry Falls bodes well for Bret and Heather in the context of the current medical conversation, but it also bodes well for Darwin’s Doubt and Intelligent Design in the wider biological conversation. This is true for two reasons: One that is specific to these issues and one that has been general across many issues in the history of science.

The specific reason is that scientific explanations from rapid change have been out of vogue in the higher thought of mankind for at least one hundred years at this point.

Explanations from rapid change are considered quasi-miraculous and less beautiful than stories of the magic of billions and trillions of years. Even when engineers reproduce these sorts of changes, such engineering acts are discussed in the academy and the journals as trivial or boring in comparison to far sexier complex theories.

I speculate that some of this bias against explanations from rapid change is motivated by the difficulty in sustaining a career in research around certain kinds of problems, including simple engineering problems and also problems that can’t be repeatedly studied or replicated. As a result, a culture biased against simple truths and rare events emerges.

The general reason that the Dry Falls story should cause us to take Bret’s views and Darwin’s Doubt more seriously is that the Dry Falls story is another case of the common story in history where a minority scientific voice was proven right. This story reminds us that the common views of the day, even among specialists, are to be taken with a bag of salt. The fact of minority correctness as recently as the late 1900s and throughout history begs us to ask why the minorities would suddenly be wrong today, or why does it suddenly become beneficial to censor minority views in the wake of coronavirus?

Tangentially, I have a recent video below on my own vaccine hesitancy:

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