Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Social acceptance is what makes something a fact.

Bet you didn't know that. I sure didn't. But here it is, written by a professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech, who also says that "an idea is not much of a fact if only one lonely person believes it." (ibid.)


Perhaps you remember Semmelweis. He was the lonely person who believed doctors should wash their hands between Pathology and Obstetrics. His detractors destroyed his career (Semmelweis died destitute); worse, their literally dirty hands transmitted pathogens to pregnant women, killing many of them by septic shock.

I say Semmelweis was factually correct even though nobody else believed it. It has always been a fact that unwashed hands can spread pathogens from cadavers to living patients.

We recently heard at church that in some countries, men believe that AIDS can be cured by having sex with a (female) virgin. This idea is socially accepted, but it is no fact.

In these cases, women paid (and still pay) with their lives.

Ironic that the Georgia Tech prof is also a woman.

No comments: