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6 World-Changing Ideas That Were Originally Rejected

6 World-Changing Ideas That Were Originally Rejected

Millions of years ago, humans’ ancestors developed a fully conscious thinking brain. While its emergence is surely nature’s greatest achievement, tragically it came without a program, and so the long journey to find understanding of our universe and our place in it began and science was born. It was not so long ago that we didn’t have fire, or the wheel, or an understanding that thunder and lightning weren’t caused by angry gods. Our history has been one of ever increasing understanding.

science

    Image courtesy of the film ‘The Man They Could Not Hang’

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    The Greeks in their golden period had the wisdom to formalise the search for knowledge into the discipline of science, and since then it has been adopted by humanity as its designated vehicle for gaining understanding.

    However, the road for science of scientific progress has not been a smooth one. Religious intolerance has been common, with George Bernard Shaw famously saying, “All great truths begin as blasphemies” (from his play Annajanska, 1919). Less well known is that intolerance has often come from within the ranks of the scientific community itself. The dictum that “science progresses funeral by funeral” (see his Scientific Autobiography, 1948) proves that scientists are just as much victims of the human condition as the rest of us, with all the prejudice and frailties that entails. As Arthur Schopenhauer recognised, an important idea or truth must ‘endure a hostile reception before it is accepted’ when he said “…First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” (www.brainyquote.com)

    What follows is a list of six important scientific discoveries that were fiercely resisted in their time, five of them to be vindicated years later. They represent incredible breakthroughs in understanding without which the human race would have been completely stalled, life as we know it would not exist. The sixth discovery, relating to understanding of the human condition itself, awaits its vindication and is surely the most important of all.

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    1. The Earth is Round – 330 BC

    In the 6th Century BC, Pythagoras declared the world was round although other Greek philosophers remained unconvinced until 330BC when Aristotle championed the idea of a round Earth. However, it took many more centuries before the fear of falling off the edge of the Earth was quelled by explorers such as Christopher Columbus when he set sail around the globe in 1492. Today the term ‘flat-earther’ is used to describe someone who stubbornly adheres to an outmoded idea.

    2. The Earth Revolves Around the Sun – 1600s

    It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that we originally thought we were at the centre of the universe. The church believed in the idea so much that in the early 1600s they burnt Giordano Bruno at the stake and later sentenced Galileo to house arrest for supporting the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. However, the real opposition was from other scientists who held to the view established by Aristotle almost 2000 years before, that the Earth was at the centre of the universe. Today, Galileo is often referred to as the father of modern science.

    3. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection – 1838

    Before Darwin put forward his scientific theory of natural selection in 1838 (he withheld its publication for eight years for fear of opposition), it was generally believed that life on Earth had been unchanging through the millennia. While some scientists were prepared to accept that species evolved, few thought natural selection was important, preferring to believe in the notion that supernatural forces were responsible. Despite the opposition, when biologist Thomas Henry Huxley’s first heard the idea he famously exclaimed: “How extremely stupid of me not to have thought of that!” (The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, Leonard Huxley, Vol.1, 1900, p.170) Over time the evidence has become overwhelming and Darwin’s idea of natural selection has become the cornerstone of modern biology and science, with aspects of natural selection even being incorporated into the teachings of the Church.

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    Darwin's theory of evolution
      4. Pasteurization: Diseases are spread by germs – 1850s

      Louis Pasteur thought that disease was spread by germs. He made the discovery after three of his five children died from infectious diseases. When he first put forward his theory in the 1850’s he was met with violent resistance from the medical community. Today, in large part due to his work, we know that certain bacteria are responsible for sickness, and minimizing germs is a key to promoting healthy immune function.

      Bacteria-

        5. Bacteria Causes Stomach Ulcers – 2005

        In 2005 Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery that bacteria is responsible for stomach ulcers. However wind the clock back 20 years and Marshall and Warren’s idea was being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who maintained that bacteria couldn’t live in the acidic environment of the stomach, and that it was just stress or bad diet that was to blame. In the end Marshall changed the face of medical science when he swallowed a petri-dish of dangerous bacteria to prove his theory. Said Marshall, “everyone was against me, but I knew I was right.” (H. Pylori and the Making of a Myth. 23 May 1998, Academy of Achievement website)

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        6. Breakthrough Biological Theories on the Human Condition – 1983

        Finding understanding of the human condition, or ‘why we are the way we are’, was the all-important task facing humanity. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson recognised this when he said, “The human condition is the most important frontier of the natural sciences” (Consilience, 1998, p.298 of 374). In 1983 the biologist Jeremy Griffith presented his theory of the human condition that explained humans’ capacity for so called ‘good’ and ‘evil’. After coming across Griffith’s ideas Professor Harry Prosen, a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association said, “I have no doubt this biological explanation of Jeremy Griffith’s of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race!” (worldtransformation.com) Yet there has been a great deal of resistance—indeed no idea will be more fiercely resisted than the explanation of the human condition because the arrival of understanding of the human condition is an extremely exposing and confronting development.

        WTM_Sunrise_Of_A_New_World_Poster

          But, just as humans today take the truth of discoveries such as a round Earth for granted, future generations will shake their heads at the idea that we lived without this understanding of the human condition.

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          6 World-Changing Ideas That Were Originally Rejected

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          Last Updated on March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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