Hey, that’s not what the scientific “elite” told me!


One of the common refrains from the (allegedly) pro-science crowd is that science trumps religion and the Enlightenment period did away with all that religious nonsense.  See They were so ignorant back in the Middle Ages that they just talked a lot about God and didn’t do any experiments … right?

… the actual record of scientific methodological practice in the Middle Ages shows this to be false. Ptolemy (c.90–168) was extensively involved in astronomical observation and optical experimentation.The Alexandrian Christian platonist philosopher John Philoponus (c.490–570) performed imprecise experiments to ascertain the truth of the Aristotelian contention that the speed of descent was proportional to the weight of a dropped body, discovering—contrary to Aristotle—that there was very little difference.

. . .

The bottom line is that scientific experimentation was widely recognized as useful from late antiquity throughout the Middle Ages, and experiments were performed when it was recognized that doing so could help to confirm or disconfirm a scientific claim; the experimental method, therefore, was not a distinctive of modern science.  Bruce Gordon, Introduction to The Nature of Nature , (pp. 20-21)


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