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Excessive Skepticism

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The scientific community has sometimes been excessively skeptical, something that many advocates of heretical theories never tire of pointing out, as if that is somehow a vindication of their theories.

Perhaps the most infamous case of such skepticism was with meteorites. Many reputable scientists refused to believe that there was a such thing as extraterrestrial rocks, preferring to believe that meteorites were Earth rocks struck by lightning, ejecta from distant volcanoes, etc. But on April 26, 1803, there was a fall of 3000 meteorites near L'Aigle, France. The physicist Jean-Baptiste Biot investigated it in gory detail, and his report convincingly established the extraterrestrial-rock theory, overcoming even the staunchest skeptics.

Despite such cases, there are other cases where skepticism was more than justified, like the canals of Mars. They were a controversial borderline observation which astronomer Percival Lowell claimed was evidence of Martian engineering. The question was ultimately settled by spacecraft pictures, which revealed no evidence of these alleged structures.

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