Makes me want to re-read “Why Smart People Do Dumb Things”.
Combined with Josephson’s bizarre faith in ESP, Wolfram’s “Computational Universe”, the racism of Crick, the super-vitamin notions of Pauli and the continued religious beliefs of many scientists, etc. it just highlights the dangers of the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy. In each case, a person of science has decided to draw conclusions about causal and operative phenomena in the external world from something other than (and often contrary to) evidence.
I suspect that some scientists even get overawed by their own authority. They may believe that since they’re quite obviously, (and publicly recognized as) very smart, they become more easily persuaded that any non-mainstream notion they may have is automatically a thing of transcendent genius.
A metaphor I can think of is of a person with an incredibly bright flashlight in a very dark room. If the flashlight is suddenly replaced with a candle, the person will be far less able to navigate than a person who’s had a pen-light all along. That’s not to say that a genius suddenly becomes dumb; but that clear acuity and deep insight in one area doesn’t automatically mean everything one sees will be similarly illuminated.
Perhaps the most intellectually astute among us need to be even more on guard against the blindness of false pride and conceit than those with less acumen. Indeed, because a smart person has more inherently sophisticated and potentially persuasive “tools” at his disposal (e.g. mathematics, vocabulary, metaphor), he is far more and better able to “baffle with bullshit” than others. Combine this acumen with the heady pride that comes from social approbation, and the temptation to “hold forth” on all manner of great mysteries, becomes significant. Too often the attempt to overawe the world devolves into a tawdry exercise in self-bafflement.