Are Genius Scientists A Relic Of The Past?

No more Einsteins? writes:

Dean Keith Simonton, professor at the University of California, in the journal Nature argues that it’s unlikely mankind will ever produce another Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc. because, he says, we’ve already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. New work will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base.

Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof of his assessment. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field.

The way modern science is conducted [may be] adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn’t leave much room for true insight, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries.

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79 Responses to Are Genius Scientists A Relic Of The Past?

  1. Chaorder Gradient February 2, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Did anyone see the Truman Show? What did they tell him when he said he wanted to be an Explorer?

  2. Gordon Klock February 2, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    I always wanted to be the worlds first ‘real’ mad scientist when I was a kid,& set about trying to make that my life’s goal.
    The first thing that disturbed me was the genuine hostility that the education system has for kids who try to learn stuff off the ‘program’.When I tried to learn elementary chemistry or Newtonian physics, they would overwhelm me with math problems I couldn’t solve fast enough,then tell me that I wasn’t ‘smart’ enough to be a scientist-so get back in line.
    I got so depressed in the fourth grade they convinced my family to get me a partial lobotomy (I was under the mistaken understanding that this “procedure” was no big deal-I thought they were just fiddling with something ‘near’ my brain with that weird pin-thing up my nose)
    Not that I would have turned into anyone ‘special’ had that not happened,Im just saying that our society seems totally hostile toward anyone who tries to become a multi-talented &/or ingenious type of person.
    (the old-nail-getting-noticed-thus-pounded-wrong routine)
    BTW the reason inventors don’t invent anymore is because the only way they can get the financial backing,they have to give credit,& all rights to the financieer, whilst they get ‘minimum wage’or only slightly more.(I know 2 of them & this is what they both told me)

    • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Wow, that’s a sad story. All they tried to do toe was give me Ritalin. For similar reasons probably.

      • tardnarc February 3, 2013 at 1:07 am #

        “All they tried to do to me was give me Ritalin.”

        lucky you! i’m envious.

  3. Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    This just shows how close minded much of the Scientific community has become. Fundamentalist Christians that are Biblical literalists and believe the Earth was creates 6000 years ago in 6 literal days, think they pretty much know all there is to know about the Universe also.

    • bobbiethejean February 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Why does it seem like all you ever want to do is talk about how close-minded and terrible science is?

      • jnana February 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

        Because not enough people are questioning science, other than those religious fundamentalists who do it from their prejudices and not serious questioning.

        • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

          science should institute some sort of system of peer review, have other people try to duplicate their work, that’ll show those egg heads

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

            you mean a system where they reject any idea that doesn’t fit with the prevailing memes?

          • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

            what real science do you think is being suppressed?

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

            In the 70′s, it was Robert Becker’s research.

            Wikipedia’s overview:

            The first part of the book discusses regeneration, primarily in salamanders and frogs. Becker studied regeneration after lesions such as limb amputation., and hypothesized that electric fields played an important role for controlling the regeneration process. He mapped the electric potentials at various body parts during the regeneration, showing that the central part of body normally was positive, and the limbs were negative. When a limb of a salamander or frog was amputated, the voltage at the cut (measured relative to the central part of body) changed from about -10 mV (millivolts) to +20 mV or more the next day—a phenomenon called the current of injury. In a frog, the voltage would simply change to the normal negative level in four weeks or so, and no limb regeneration would take place. In a salamander, however, the voltage would during the first two weeks change from the +20 mV to -30 mV, and then normalize (to -10 mV) during the next two weeks—and the limb would be regenerated.

            Becker then found that regeneration could be improved by applying electricity at the wound when there was a negative potential outside the amputation stub, He also found that bone has piezoelectric properties which would cause an application of force to generate a healing current, which stimulated growth at stress locations in accordance with Wolff’s law.

            In another part of the book Becker described potentials and magnetic fields in the nervous system, taking into account external influences like earth magnetism and solar winds. He measured the electrical properties along the skin surface, and concluded that at least the major parts of the acupuncture charts had an objective basis in reality.

            In the last chapters of the book, Becker recounts his experiences as a member of an expert committee evaluating the physiological hazards of various electromagnetic pollutions. He presents research data which indicate that the deleterious effects are stronger than officially assumed. His contention is that the experts choosing the pollution limits are strongly influenced by the polluting industry

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

            Also, any research that goes up against corporate interests. Like Monsanto’s GMO seeds, herbalism, evils of cell phones and EMFs and ELFs.

          • kowalityjesus February 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

            how much of the suppression stems from corporate contrivances, how much from acedemia’s fervid ignorance?

          • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

            being suppressed and being ignored are twe very different things

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

            … with identical outcomes…

          • Calypso_1 February 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

            Not necessarily.

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

            no, he was suppressed. They tried taking his license away and made it very difficult to get grants, which seems to me the most common way of suppressing radical scientists.

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

            eventually, some of his findings were accepted and thanks to him we now use electric current to speed recovery of broken limbs and keep them from becoming septic. Many limbs not to mention lives have been saved because of him, and if the science community had there way, that wouldn’t be true

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm #


          • tardnarc February 3, 2013 at 1:08 am #

            psi research comes to mind

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

            Why should they keep doing that if they already have everything 99% figured out with very little left to discover?

        • bobbiethejean February 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

          Not enough people are questioning science? The whole POINT of science is to question itself!

          • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

            but but chemtrails and vaccines and the pyramids are really spaceships and the scientific community is hiding it

          • Adam Goodwin February 3, 2013 at 1:29 am #

            I guess you were absent during ‘the strawman logical fallacy’ class of your Logic 101 course?

      • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

        Actually, lately I’ve been spending all my time chasing hot women. I just comment on here to take a breather…piss of materialists etc.

        • kowalityjesus February 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

          I would postulate that this is a fairly exclusive activity in this forum, unless there are a plethora of hot women that dig the mysterious-occultish-conoissieur type unbeknownst to me.

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

            I wasn’t joking. Chicks dig me. I mean, at least enough to get dates with them. If it weren’t for beautiful women most guys wouldn’t accomplish anything. Think of all the Chevaliers in the middle ages and what not. Einstein was a ladies man. Ben Franklin, Leibniz. The list goes on.

            I was in kind of a rut, just moved to a new town, broke, staying in my friends basement. I had this seemingly counter intuitive idea to try to line up some dates with beautiful women. So I did. Now I am motivated to work my ass off just to have enough money for the weekend. I’ll probably work outside in zero degree weather doing manual labor this week now, just to have some cash. Otherwise I would be all depressed hanging out in a basement.

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

            couldn’t help but thinking about this ;-)

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

            That guys’ it figured out!


            Thanks for turning me on to him

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

            He’s a genius, for sure.
            Imagine if he were a physicist.
            Oh… wait…

          • kowalityjesus February 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

            Please excuse any sentiment of sanctimoniousness; God bless you.

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm #


          • kowalityjesus February 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

            I gave the preface in order to avoid evoking an outward appearance of piousness, although I am quite sincere in my desire for your blessing.

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

            OK. Thanks man. I’ve never been known to turn down a blessing. I need all the blessings I can get. God bless you too.

          • Ted Heistman February 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

            Hey, could you email me? I would like to talk to you privately. I had an usual experience today.

          • tardnarc February 3, 2013 at 1:09 am #

            you need to get out more

        • bobbiethejean February 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

          You have to chase? Psht! I have to beat them off with a stick! I’ve got a fricking conga line. And I’m not even hot!

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

            Must be your psi abilities!

  4. Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    doesn’t help that there is such a high financial barrier to entry, a patent clerk isn’t going to be able to put a lab together

    • Calypso_1 February 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      A patent attorney or agent can.

  5. Dingbert February 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Look at our modern educational fixation with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and disdain for liberal arts. Now, look at a list of the greatest scientists. How many did NOT attend a liberal arts college?

  6. Astropan February 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    “it’s unlikely mankind will ever produce another Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc. because, he says, we’ve already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works”. A little bit short sighted, don’t you think??

  7. Some Dude February 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    It’s wierd, but I’ve come to the conclusion that “scientists” are stupid. Take this article for one example, do the names “Hawking” or “Feynman” mean anything to Dr. Simonton? Woops? You’re an arrogant dumbass…

  8. drokhole February 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Huh, now where have I heard this before…

    “We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy.”
    - Simon Newcomb (1888, astronomer)

    “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote…Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.”
    - Albert Michelson (1894, Nobel Prize winner in physics)

    “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.”
    - William Thomson (1900, physicist and inventor of intercontinental telegraphy)

    Oh, that’s right, history.

    • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm #


      • drokhole February 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

        Funnily enough, I just read this yesterday in Rubert Sheldrake’s most recent book “Science Set Free”. Only a chapter deep (after a Preface, Introduction, and Prologue), but it’s already great.

        • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

          Yeah, I have that book too. I was thinking of quoting some of it on here, but you beat me to it.

          • drokhole February 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

            Ha, nice. Yeah, it was fresh in my mind, so I was a bit quick on the trigger.

          • Ted Heistman February 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

            Its a whole book of reasons basically of why the premise of the above writer is mistaken. Question assumptions! Don’t even get me started on the un-falsifiable assumptions behind the multiverse…

          • tardnarc February 3, 2013 at 1:06 am #

            there are actually conceivable means by which the “multiverse” (horrid term*) idea can be tested

            *by definition, the universe is the sum of all that exists

  9. Skadhi_the_Raverner February 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Roger Schlafly would disagree with Einstein changing physics forever lol. But recognising Einstein as a plagiarist only shifts the goalposts – one man doesn’t change how we view the universe forever, and new theories arise out of old ones, not by paradigm shifts.

    • Calypso_1 February 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Absolutely. Einstein has been mythologized.

  10. Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    i think he means that it will be very rare that science produces hhuge discoveries that translate well to the masses, we are constantly seeing very interesting discoveries but they arent sexy to people outside that field of study. something that blows the mind of an astronomer could seem like nothing to a layperson. one person having the effect of a newton in terms of the perception of the general public would be very difficult but i hope i see it one day.

    • jnana February 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Instead of relying on someone else making discoveries for you, why not pursue the height of knowledge yourself? that’s one of my problems w/ science. it’s like depending on a priest or book to tell you about God and the hidden truths.
      might I suggest a little “inner space” exploration?
      it’s something attainable by any individual w/ the sincere desire to know
      a warning (and blessing)from Jesus, though:
      “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished and he will rule over the all.”
      “Recognize what is in your sight and that which is hidden from you will be revealed. For there is nothing hidden which will not becom manifest”

      • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

        thanks, i needed a good laugh

        • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

          Appeal to ridicule.

          • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

            im sorry but comments about spiritualism and bible quotes have nothing to do with my comment or science in general

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

            However out of place or fallacious his argument, yours was still an appeal to ridicule.

          • Calypso_1 February 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

            There was no appeal, just ridicule.

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

            Science means knowledge, right? Well, then my comments are related to science and not “mere spiritualism”. You wouldn’t call psychology, that is,the study of mind, spiritualism, would ya? How do you study the mind? EEGs and CAT scans? Clinical, sanitized, Laboratory experiments? ;)
            I would suggest you seek and knock on the door of your own mind

          • Hadrian999 February 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

            science is a process involving specific steps which cant be met by spirituality.

          • Kevin Leonard February 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

            “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all previous centuries of its existence.” —Nikola Tesla

          • Hadrian999 February 3, 2013 at 1:00 am #

            if the non physical is measurable fine but claiming scientific method in research that can’t be independently verified, replicated, empirically measured, and stand up to peer review is self deception at best and fraud at worst.

          • Adam Goodwin February 3, 2013 at 1:50 am #

            This is contrary to how science works. Scientists don’t postulate new findings after they’ve measured them. They imagine them first, and then figure out how to test them later. There is no goddamn method, because the imagination cannot be constrained within a method of imaging new images of reality. Establishing a method to imagine is like establishing a method to love your partner. Oh, and to test this hypothesis, try explaining all of the biochemical ‘realities’ of love and sexual attraction to your partner while you make love to them. See how long the romantic atmosphere withstands the brutality of ‘scientific’ explanation.

          • Kevin Leonard February 3, 2013 at 2:14 am #

            Do you really believe that we can currently measure everything that will ultimately be measurable?
            Meditation techniques and accompanying results are, indeed, verifiable,replicable and stand up to peer review. However, the peers do not wear lab coats hunched over sophisticated machinery. The self-deception and fraud of material reductionists and establishment science is far more insidious and damaging than other social force in the world today.

          • jnana February 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

            sounds like “ritual” to me

          • Hadrian999 February 3, 2013 at 12:57 am #

            yes peer review, falsifiable hypothesis, testing, control groups, it’s all very esoteric

          • jnana February 3, 2013 at 1:08 am #

            things only the high priests can do. the rest of us are stuck outside the holy of holies.

          • Adam Goodwin February 3, 2013 at 1:37 am #

            Specific steps? Name them then.

          • Hadrian999 February 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

            your obviously on the internet, google scientific method

          • Adam Goodwin February 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

            Use of the word ‘specific’ in this case is incorrect, because you are referring to the ‘scientific method’ as a generalized entity in your arguments for it, and this precludes specificity. Thus, my question was rhetorical. While there are certain methodological strategies that can be followed in certain fields and specific contexts of natural science for yielding increasingly accurate descriptions of reality, there is no coherent, unified ‘scientific method’ per se. To have any such meta-method would prevent the accumulation of _new_ explanations for the happenings of the world, thus hampering the accumulation of knowledge. Surely you can see this…

  11. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness February 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Will substantial scientific progress continue without a large industrial society backing it up? I think the author may correct, but for a different reason than he may suppose. When the eggheads have to start growing their own wheat instead of diddling in their ivory towers everyday, I don’t think they’ll have the time and resources to contribute to society’s compendium, not in a culturally significant way. That’s not to say future generations won’t discover what has been forgotten. On cynical (most) days, I presume those future generations will never see the light of day. Time will tell.

    • tardnarc February 3, 2013 at 1:12 am #

      it’s always easier to be pessimistic as opposed to creating the future

  12. BuzzCoastin February 3, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    real genius is found in the person
    who can state the obvious in such a way
    that it’s finally obvious to almost everyone

    Einstein didn’t discover relativity
    Feynman didn’t discover QED
    they merely explained these phenomenon in a way
    that wee find to be genius

  13. Adam Goodwin February 3, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    Science triumphalists….yet another platitude-regurgitating bunch (like ‘patriots’ and ‘capitalists’) who get me all pissed off at times like this when I’m surfing the interwebs drunk.

  14. Ted Heistman February 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Technically I guess I could say I believe in the level one multiverse

  15. Ted Heistman February 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Well, actually they did more to me than that, but never surgery. I was put in special ed class, briefly and singled out in other ways. They couldn’t figure out if I was retarded or “gifted” or both. I think that’s illustrative of how they can’t deal with kids that don’t really conform.

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