When Continental Drift Was Pseudoscience

The Smithsonian Magazine has a nice article entitled “When Continental Drift Was Considered Pseudoscience.”

It is noteworthy that the “continental displacement” (as Alfred Wegener labeled his view in 1912) was considered a crackpot theory for decades. It was only “in the mid-1960s, as older geologists died off and younger ones began to accumulate proof of seafloor spreading” that the theory gained popularity.

This example obviously fits well with Kuhn’s account of scientific revolutions as shifts in a paradigm. It also provides food for thought when considering the question of whether there are intrinsic features that distinguish pseudoscience from revolutionary science, or whether the distinction can only be made in hindsight once we’ve decided whether the revolutionary theory was right.

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