This is the first part of the comments section in the model comparison chapter (Chapter 20) from Jayne’s book (emphasis mine).
Actual scientific practice does not really obey Ockham’s razor, either in its previous ’simplicity’ form or in our revised ’plausibility’ form. As so many of us have deplored, the attractive new hypothesis or model, which accounts for the facts in such a neat, plausible way that you want to believe it at once, is usually pooh-poohed by the official Establishment in favor of some drab, complicated, uninteresting one; or, if necessary, in favor of no alternative at all. The progress of science is carried forward mostly by the few fundamental dissenting innovators, such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Laplace, Darwin, Mendel, Pasteur, Boltzmann, Einstein, Wegener, Jeffreys – all of whom had to undergo this initial rejection and attack. In the cases of Galileo, Laplace, and Darwin, these attacks continued for more than a century after their deaths. This is not because their new hypothesis were faulty – quite the contrary – but because this is the part of the sociology of science (and, indeed of all scholarship). In any field, the Establishment is seldom in pursuit of the truth, because it is composed of those who sincerely believe that they are already in possession of it.
The sociology of science is an interesting topic that’s been brought forcefully into the public perception by the recent kerfuffle over the leaked UEA CRU emails. Hans von Storch has an interesting guest post over on Roger Pielke’s site discussing some of the concerns along with suggestions for improving the sustainability of science.
I think ’sustainability of science’ is his way of saying maintaining long-term credibility. Being honest about the uncertainties and not using science to support a ’preconceived political agenda of something good’. This is an unarguably good thing. A hard thing for sure, but something no one would argue against out loud. The term Pielke gives for the behaviour exhibited by the CRU scientists is ’stealth advocacy’. When you wrap the mantle of Science (relevant Anchorman audio clip, it really is relevant, the relevant part is at the very end) around your advocacy and misrepresent the actual state of knowledge to decision makers and laypeople, then you aren’t living up to that particular sort of honesty that Feynman exhorted scientists to uphold.