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Desert Diary
Biology/Closed Mind


Scientists often are accused of being closed minded, of being unwilling to listen to new ideas. Now scientists, being human (yes, really!), are not immune to the common failings of humankind. Yet, most often such criticism comes from people whose favorite flight of fancy is not embraced whole-heartedly by science. The vast majority of rejected ideas are refused because the same ideas—or those based on the same principles—have been considered in detail in the past and found wanting. Nobody has the time to spend considering the latest perpetual motion machine or the mystic powers of the new guru who claims to be able to levitate himself through mental power (but, of course, refuses to do so in front of unbelievers).

Even today, there are people in our desert who swear that life and fortune are governed by the stars, that shamans can turn themselves into animal forms, and that certain magical ceremonies can bring rain. The one way to convince a closed-minded scientist is by hard, scientific evidence—too bad so few people try that route!
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

brain in a box

Brain in a box—the symbol of a closed mind. rule