A call to help unexpected discoveries get discovered

Several well-known, much-respected scientists published this letter in The Guardian:

We need more scientific mavericks

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” said Richard Feynman in the 1960s. But times change….

[But now,] applicants’ proposals must convince their peers that they serve national policies and are the best possible uses of resources. [A large number of] major discoveries [that] challenged mainstream science and would probably be vetoed today. Nowadays, fields where understanding is poor are usually neglected because researchers must convince experts that working in them will be beneficial.

However, small changes would keep science healthy…. But policies are deeply ingrained. Agencies claiming to support blue-skies research use peer review, of course, discouraging open-ended inquiries and serious challenges to prevailing orthodoxies. Mavericks once played an essential role in research. Indeed, their work defined the 20th century. We must relearn how to support them, and provide new options for an unforeseeable future, both social and economic. We need influential allies. Perhaps Guardian readers could help?

NOTE: It has not escaped our notice that several of the scientists who wrote that letter have for a long time been  encouraging and supporting things that make people LAUGH, then THINK.