“We would there were no occasion to extend the critic’s glance beyond the circle of triflers and pendants who improperly wear the title of men of science. But it is also undeniable that the treatment of new subjects by those whose rank is high in the scientific world but too often passes unchallenged, when it is amenable to censure.
The cautioness bred of a fixed habit of experimental research, the tentative advance from opinion to opinion, the weight accorded to recognized authorities – all foster a conservatism of thought which naturally runs into dogmatism.
The price of scientific progress is too commonly the martyrdom or ostracism of the innovator. The reformer of the laboratory must, so to speak, carry the citadel of custom and prejudice at the point of the bayonet. It is rare that even a postern-door is left ajar by a friendly hand.
The noisy protests and impertinent criticisms of the little people of the antechamber of science, he can afford to let pass unnoticed; the hostility of the other class is a real peril that the innovator must face and overcome.
Knowledge does increase apace, but the great body of scientists are entitled to the credit. In every instance they have done their best to shipwreck the new discovery, together with the discoverer. The palm is to him who has won it by individual courage, intuitiveness, and persistency. Few are the forces in nature which, when first announced, were not laughed at, and then set aside as absurd and unscientific.
Humbling the pride of those who had not discovered anything, the just claims of those have been denied a hearing until negation was no longer prudent, and then – alas for poor, selfish humanity! these very discoverers too often became the opponents and oppressors, in their turn, of still more recent explorers in the domain of natural law!
So, step by step, mankind move around their circumscribed circle of knowledge, science constantly correcting its mistakes, and readjusting on the following day the erroneous theories of the preceding one.
This has been the case, not merely with questions pertaining to psychology, such as mesmerism, in its dual sense of a physical and spiritual phenomenon, but even with such discoveries as directly related to exact sciences, and have been easy to demonstrate.”
H. P. Blavatsky