Monday, May 26, 2008

Open minds

Some scientists hypothesize that perhaps some of the blocks that make up the pyramids in Egypt were cast from concrete rather than being quarried and then subsequently hoisted into place. This has provoked controversy among Egyptologists and experts in the field.

In one article Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of antiquities in Egypt and director of the Giza Pyramids excavations, said “The idea that concrete was used is unlikely and completely unproven. I would ask (Dr. Barsoum) the question: where did he get the samples he is working with, and how can he show that the samples are not taken from areas that have been restored in modern times?” In another article he is quoted as saying “It’s highly stupid. The pyramids are made from solid blocks of quarried limestone. To suggest otherwise is idiotic and insulting.”

Reading the articles (linked below) this blogger has to wonder about some of these scientific “experts.” He believes it is perfectly OK to treat new approaches with reasoned skepticism, to view them through the prism of one’s experience, knowledge, etc. So, Zahi Hawass’ first expression of doubt makes sense, and he asks the right questions (e.g. if repairs made in more modern times might not have ‘contaminated’ the evidence). However, his quote in the other article is the worst sort of reaction that seeks to close off future scientific inquiry in favor of making the current state the final orthodoxy which can not be questioned.

This blogger admits being old enough to remember back when a scientist first claimed that peptic ulcers had a bacterial cause and could therefore be treated, vs. the orthodoxy current at that time i.e. For nearly 100 years, scientists and doctors thought that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy food, and alcohol. Treatment involved bed rest and a bland diet. Later, researchers added stomach acid to the list of causes and began treating ulcers with antacid.” Although the hoots of laughter were legion at the time, and some “experts” dismissed this as the ravings of a lunatic, it turned out that a bacterium, Helicobacter Pylori, can in fact be responsible for some peptic ulcers. Now antibiotics are routinely used to cure ulcers…

OK, so sometimes it turns out that crazy ideas are perhaps really crazy after all (e.g. cold fusion), but when “experts” are close-minded and seek to foreclose new avenues of thinking you have to be careful!

Gathering 'concrete' evidence
Scientist Says Concrete Was Used in Pyramids
A new angle on pyramids
H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer

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