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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 July 23, 2019

          5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

          5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

          In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

          Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

          How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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          • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
          • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
          • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
          • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
          • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
          • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

          When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

          1. Realize You’re Not Alone

          Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

          2. Find What Inspires You

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          Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

          On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

          3. Give Yourself a Break

          When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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          Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

          4. Shake up Your Routines

          Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

          Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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          When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

          5. Start with a Small Step

          Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

          Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

          More to Help You Stay Motivated

          Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

          Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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