Although the center of the solar system had been debated in ancient Greek and Roman times, the church had declared the victory of those debates was that the Earth was the center of all, because, and only because the scriptures demanded it. Over the centuries, to question this absolute truth was declared heresy by the church and could result in burning at the stake and/or excommunication.
The idea that the sun could be the center of the solar system was shared by genius Copernicus via a writing he delayed in publication until his death to prevent punishment by the church. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for declaring this possibility, and suggesting the universe was infinite. The first true telescope design, by another genius, Galileo Galilei, gave him the ability to describe what he could observe through this new instrument. He was the first to observe Jupiter’s moons, the phases of Venus, and the rings of Saturn. Many consider him the be the father of astronomy, and even the father of modern science.
In 1633, he stood trial by the inquisition where they delivered the following finding: “vehemently suspect of heresy.” He was forced to recant what he written about the Sun being the center of the solar system, and forced into house arrest for the balance of his life. The church censored his works for centuries as “heresy.” Some have made reference to the inquisition referring to the telescope as “the devil’s lens” because when people looked through it, it promoted heresy from the “truth” of established doctrine.
Let’s jump forward in time to a genius of the mid-twentieth century, one psychiatrist named Wilhelm Reich. His early work on Character Analysis and muscular “armor” related to emotions led to various forms of body work, and eventually was a contributing idea to Gestalt Therapy. His work also featured considerable discussion of the importance of sexual expression and sexual orgasm to humans. This could not have been a comfortable message in the 1940s and 1950s due to the social repression of the day. His beliefs would be largely used for the entire field of sex therapy decades later. One of my own professors in residency cited Reich’s earlier work as “genius” but claimed Reich descended into psychosis. How and why?
Later in life, Reich began exploring “life energy” which he termed “orgone.” This is substantially no different whatsoever to the idea of prana from a yoga perspective, chi from the the Chinese systems, spiritus from Gnostic ideas, etc. But like Copernicus, those philosophical systems were just that, philosophy. Reich developed a special stain he used on living cells and he could observe this energy with his own eyes and a typical microscope. He became the Galileo who made it real.
The medical community was not amused. He had committed scientific heresy to suggest a life force could exist, but even more seriously that it could be observed. I’m not asserting the truth of Reich’s claim here, but I would note that if you wish to observe this yourself, the College of Orgonomy offers occasional weekend classes for people where you can look through the microscopic “devil’s lens” if you wish. It’s actually on my to do list.
Anyone could have checked Reich’s claims: that is what science is supposed to be. An asserted, observed, measured claim followed by other people testing the claim in their own labs. Instead, the AMA and FDA accused him of fraud, and obtained an injunction against him and all of his work. This was in America people! His work and instruments were confiscated and destroyed by official court order. He was sentenced to Federal Prison for his ideas in 1956 where he died one year later.
All for an observable idea that flew in the face of medical conventional thought. Medical science was threatened to its core of the idea of life energy [a concept basically unchallenged in most other worldviews], that it refused to even consider Reich’s evidence, and rather decided to destroy him. It was as effective a death as burning at the stake, just a tad less dramatic. His research was, though, literally burned. Medical heresy. Not much different than religious heresy.
The status quo may protect some number of people, but how many genius ideas does it destroy? And how many people might have been helped had Reich had the ability to continue his studies? For the record, my professor was indeed wrong. Reich was clearly not psychotic; psychosis implies a loss of touch with reality. But since anyone who wants to see orgone can replicate his experiment with the right tools, it was actually scientific consensus that became psychotic. The most surprising part of this entire story is that the court order still stands. It remains illegal to possess some of his later writings or devices in the United States.
The politics of science, again, prevented scientific data from even seeing the light of day. The actual core of real scientific thought is to thoroughly examine alternatives pieces of data an occasionally update scientific assumptions based upon the new data. Old worldviews blind governments, organizations, professional societies, groups, families and individuals from making progress.
What views might you need to update to reach different outcomes in life? What might you consider considering?