Damned knowledge

From Academic Kids

Damned knowledge, a term coined by Charles Fort (who collected and published accounts of many anomalous phenomena), is knowledge suppressed, discounted, or not recognized as real because it does not fit into the dominant paradigm of the time (or, sometimes, because it fits too well).

Reasons for suppression of knowledge include conflict with the political tenor and public authorities of the times, established scientific knowledge, and plain incredibility.

An example is the support for Copernican heliocentrism (ie. that the Earth is not the centre of the universe) given by Galileo Galilei in the 17th Century. Galileo made improvements to the telescope, and developed innovative scientific methods. However, his published findings were heavily criticised by the Chuch on theological grounds, and he was threatened with torture and death. He was tried by the Inquisition twice, finally being condemned to life imprisonment and being forced to deny his published findings in 1633. Only in 1992 did the Church under Pope John Paul II apologise for its attitude to this acclaimed scientific pioneer.

There are many other examples of damned knowledge in the history of science, and it is perhaps an evolving problem given the increasing modern involvement of governments in the funding and therefore directions of scientific research.

See: sociology of knowledge, power

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