Jennifer Kahn's Note From A Parallel Universe Sparknotes

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Within the cases detailed in Jennifer Kahn 's essay, “Notes from a Parallel Universe,” and Oliver Sacks ' essay, “Scotoma: Forgetting and Neglect in Science,” there are many similarities, largely in the reasoning behind the initial failures of newly presented and highly controversial theories. Standing chief amongst them is the credibility and scientific standing of the theory 's author. Take, for instance, the case of John Frederick Herschel. Herschel, an outsider of the realm of physicians to which he theorized, had no reasonable scientific standing in medicine. As a result of this, his ideas about an observable “Geometrical Spectra,” (Sacks, 143) were scoffed at or ignored by the physicians of his day. This is quite similar to the large…show more content…
By far the most significant differences between the examples in the two articles are the results of the theories presented. In general, Sacks ' essay is a collection of stories about the occurrence of an idea, its rejection, the passage of time, and, finally, the idea 's acceptance. However, the theories that serve as examples in Kahn 's essay lack the happy ending, their process almost exclusively ends with rejection. For instance, take the case in Sacks ' essay of Oswald Avery. Avery 's research resulted in findings directly opposed to the accepted 'knowns ' of science. For this, he was berated by his colleagues and his findings were dismissed. It simply was not possible to conceive that deoxyribonucleic acid could be responsible for change and transformation. It had to be a more structurally complicated mechanism like proteins that caused transformation. This is now known, of course, to not be the case. The current and well supported prevailing wisdom is that DNA, not proteins, does in fact control transformation. Yet, in Avery 's time, the contemporary and relatively well supported wisdom was of the opposite opinion. The circumstances surrounding the emergence of new ideas in Sacks ' essay are often directly hostile and diametrically opposed to those new ideas, a condition which can also…show more content…
Perhaps some of the cranks are not just average cranks and are, instead, modern day Herschel 's and Avery 's; the ideas of some of Kahn 's cranks are simply victimized by “obvious,” and “self-evident,” presently prevailing theories that are guided by “mistaken assumptions,” (Sacks, 153) and will be discovered to be wrong—just as “Newtonian optics and Lockean sensationalism,” (Sacks, 153) were—to make room for the more fundamentally profound and correct theories revolutionized by the cranks—in same same way that Louis Verrey 's theories on perception were lent credence after several decades of rejection and oppression. Or, perhaps, parts of ideas purposed by cranks could actually shed some light on potential discoveries, even if an idea as a whole is flawed—much like the way through which a series of antiquated cranks ' ideas eventually evolved into sound, scientific discovery when molded properly by scientists in Miller 's essay. It is worth taking into consideration the prospect that that which is professed to be known is actually just another stage of failure waiting to be overturned by the revolutionary theories of those identified as cranks, or more scientifically consistent theories extracted from their more radical theories. Then again, maybe I am just a crank in the
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