.. rather than admit their own incapacity
April 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Nor should we attach much value to consensus itself and its longevity. There may be many kinds of political state, but there is only one state of the sciences, and it is a popular state and always will be. And among the people the kinds of learning which are most popular are those which are either controversial and combative or attractive and empty, that is, those which ensnare and those which seduce assent. This is surely why the greatest geniuses in every age have suffered violence; while men of uncommon intellect and unerstanding, simply to preserve their reputation, have submitted themselves to the judgment of time and the multitude. For this reason, if profound thoughts have occasionally flared up, they have soon been blown on by the winds of common opinion and put out.
The result is that Time like a river has brought down to us the light things that float on the surface, and has sunk what is weighty and solid. Even those authors who have assumed a kind of dictatorship in the sciences and make pronouncements about things with so much confidence, take to complaining when they recover their senses from time to time about the subtlety of nature, the depths of truth, the obscurity of things, the complexity of causes, and the weakness of human understanding; yet they are no more modest in this, since they prefer to blame the common condition of man and nature rather than admit their own incapacity.
– Francis Bacon, The New Organon