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TitleThe Case Against the Nuclear Atom by Dewey B Larson
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The Case Against
the Nuclear Atom

by Dewey B. Larson
“To all of us, steeped in the unquestioning adoration of the contemporary
scientific method, this is a rude and outspoken book, which sometimes hurts.
The frightening thing about it is that it rings true.”

One of the first things that a student in science or engineering acquires at the
beginning of his college career is a sublime confidence in the objectivity of
the scientific method and the unimpeachable status of the results thereof,
along with a rather critical and condescending attitude toward other fields of
learning which operate on a less exact basis. I still have a very vivid
recollection of the amusement with which my classmates and I looked upon
a statement in our economics textbook wherein the author commented on the
theory of wages which he had just expounded at great length. This statement
admitted that the theory did not produce the right results, but the author went
on to say that he could not think of any better explanation, and consequently
this one must be right anyway. Certainly, we students told ourselves, it was a
pleasure to be identified with a branch of knowledge in which conclusions
are reached by logical and mathematical processes rather than by any such
ridiculous reasoning as this.

But those of us who have subsequently had occasion to leave the beaten path
in the course of research work of one kind or another have been thoroughly
disillusioned on this score. In spite of the high ideals to which the scientific
world subscribes in theory, today’s best guess is just as firmly enthroned in
the field of science as it is in economics or any other of the less “exact”
branches of knowledge, and the extent to which general acceptance is taken
as the equivalent of proof in present-day scientific practice is nothing short
of astounding. It is true that the areas in which the facts have been positively
and unequivocally established are much larger in science than in these other

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