Since John Donegan's recent column, "Orthodoxy and vanity" (March 11) is even more incoherent than usual, it's hard to figure out his point. "Conservatism in science is not only desirable but necessary. Theories need to be vigorously challenged, especially where acceptance requires an expensive and painful reaction such as with anthropogenic (human caused) climate change."
That's a loaded formulation at best. In the early 20th century, was acceptance of the internal combustion engine challenged because it would require an expensive and painful reaction? Not so much. Even though it certainly was expensive and painful to the horse-related businesses of the time, urban street design and a lot of other things. Instead, to use the "conservative" lingo of our time, the change was mostly accepted in a positive way as "creatively disruptive." Why isn't transitioning from fossil fuel the same as getting rid of the tyranny of horseshit that once plagued our cities?
But my bigger question is this: Is conservatism in science different from conservatism in general? I thought the point was that the Founding Fathers got everything right and that the Constitution, for example, should therefore be strictly and literally adhered to. Originalism and all that.