Magnets for pain relief

Actually, it doesn’t indicate anything. Even smart people can be wrong. William Shockley, inventor of the junction transistor, held some wooish beliefs on race and intelligence.

Anyway, one of the prime “benefits” of going around barefoot is the easier contraction of hookworms, which have been shown to reduce intelligence.

ETA: An open mind can be ones undoing if one is not careful. You’ve been here quite a while and have undoubtedly heard the saying “Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out.”

…and one of Lazarus Long’s epigrams that I’ve found more valid over time than most:

“Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.”
(Robert Heinlein)

This seems to be particularly true of experts in hard, finite sciences and engineering. Their world is rigid and organized and finite unto the furthest reaches; other specialties and fields must be, as well.

William Shockley is only one of a depressing list of Nobel prize winners in science who later descended into woo and other bizarre and/or racist beliefs.

My favorite is Kary Mullis and his cosmic raccoons.

Generally, when you hear a physician or scientist endorsing a crank theory or dubious medical intervention, their credentials have little or nothing to do with the field they’re expounding on. Example: signees of petitions and articles doubting climate change include many people with impressive titles, but remarkably few demonstrating expertise in climatology.

Applies when scientists go outside of science, too. I once caught Neil deGrasse Tyson in a positively jaw-dropping goof about medieval history. (But then, I would have made the same mistake, if I had nothing to go on but my formal education.)

Not necessary, but extremely helpful in getting funding to perform experiments toward establishing efficacy.
Powers &8^]

Good point, though Thomas Kuhn points out that most scientific revolutions were brought about by people from other fields, since they weren’t burdened by a big investment in the old paradigm.

I guess those were the few who were truly geniouses, as distinct from the folks who thought they could ride the wave of their earlier success. I bet it’s easier for a Nobel recipient to get funded for woo projects than for the rest of the lot!

@Powers: Of course theories have their place in analyzing a phenomenon (or even a theoretical phenomenon)… but in the end knowing for certain that something works and knowing for certain how it works are two very different things. There’s absolutely no use in expending time, skull sweat or funding on a theoretical basis for something that can’t first be proven to exist.

@Learjeff: Heinlein’s quote is as much snark as truth; certainly there are those who cross fields and bring the same brilliance and new insights to the “foreign” one. But the truth in RAH’s comment applies most often to those whose training is in rigor and absolute precision… who then take stands on the assumption that other fields are just as rigorous and precise. They can calculate astrophysical phemonena, or engineering problems, to absurd degress of precision and with great assurance that the base principles have been proven; the difference in paranormal studies, or contrarian energy claims, escapes them.

What revolutionary developments in modern medicine were brought about by people who weren’t trained in medical research or clinical practice?

And how many Nobel science winners later proposed hugely controversial theories in unrelated fields, were derided but later vindicated?

Name one Nobel science winner who is purported to revolutionize their field?

Note: While Einstein is literally a correct answer, it’s the exception that proves the rule, since his award was for quantum theory, not relativity.

Later I’ll cite Kuhn’s examples. However, I’ll admit that they’re not terribly recent, and these days it’s decidedly more difficult to be a polymath. I’d be happy just to be a monomath, frankly!

Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect as the result of the discrete quantized nature of light (rather than Maxwell’s continuous and infinitely divisible wave theory) pretty much kicked off quantum theory and proposed the existence of the photon. That’s pretty much revolutionary. I won’t try to survey the field of Nobel-winning discoveries to assess whether this example is exceptional or typical, but as a data point, it supports the idea that revolutionary ideas are fomented within the field of the art by its own established practitioners, rather than by the inspired outsider.

I’m pretty sure Einstein didn’t make paradigm-shifting discoveries in virology or cardiovascular physiology.

I have heard that going barefoot is better for your feet, since they evolved without shoes. Of course, I’m pretty sure any benefits can be easily explained by medical science (better posture and support, less moisture and bacterial buildup) and has absolutely nothing to do with mythical “charges” (aside from static electricity, which isn’t harmful in itself, being nothing more than an excess or deficit of electrons). As for things like hookworms, well, wear shoes outside but go barefoot indoors, like I do at home.

I have dogs that are poorly housetrained. I practically wear shoes in the shower and I never go about with the lights off. :wink:

A lot of people generalize far too much from Pasteur having been a chemist.

Please, enlighten Us, because if NdGT goofed on it, I’m sure most of Us would too.

He wrote a column suggesting that the supernova of 1054 was ignored in Europe because all Western thinkers were enslaved to Aristotle’s notion that the heavens were unchanging.

Those of you who know something about the intellectual history of the middle ages may begin laughing now.

For the rest of you, the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works in the next century and the reconciliation of them with Catholic thought, chiefly by Thomas Aquinas (1224-1275), are key moments in medieval history—Big Events, like the invention of gunpowder or the discovery of America. To an astronomer/astrologer in 1054, Aristotle was, at most, someone who had written an obscure book about metaphysics.

(For what it’s worth, the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova_of_1054 has some things to say about the original question. Bottom line: European astronomy just plain sucked in 1054, but there do, in fact, seem to be some mentions of the supernova here and there.)

Reported for hijacking.

Just kidding ( hopefully I didn’t break any rules with that ). Thank You, that was most educating. You’ve always been My favourite doper - You’re actually Cecil, aren’t You?

We can’t discover how magnets relieve pain until we discover IF magnets relieve pain.

That’s been said several times and in several ways, and is repeated in any reasonably civil discussion about extraordinary claims, but there’s always a subset - sometimes a very bright, highly educated subset - that can’t figure out why you can’t work on how and why something works before you prove it does work.

But then, intense discussion of the exact length and color of a mature unicorn’s horn might lure one out of the forest.

So you deny the existence of crop circles (what causes them is [not so] debatable, though) ?