menters to try to obtain the “right” answers from their
observations, as suggested in the above quotation from
Sciama (1969). For example, Collins and Pinch (1993) have
commented on the measurements of the red-shift predicted
by general relativity as follows:
The experimental observations, conducted both before and
after 1919. were even more inconclusive. Yet after the inter-
pretation of the eclipse observations had come firmly down on
the side of Einstein, scientists suddenly began to see confir-
mation of the red-shift prediction where before they had seen
Another unfortunate result of the announcement of the
success of the eclipse observations has been an enormous
hero-worship of Albert Einstein; Pais’ statement that he was
canonized has now been outmatched by Miller (1996, p. 90),
who states that he was deified. A result of this deification is
that the greatest scorn of the scientific community is
reserved for those who would try to criticize either of
Einstein’s theories of relativity or to suggest alternative the-
ories and many mainstream scientific journals reject papers
critical of either theory without review. The attitude of most
journals is well-described by Davies (1980) in the first sen-
tence of his article “Why Pick on Einstein?”:
Most editors of scientific journals make special provision for cop-
ing with the huge influx of papers and letters, many bearing pri-
vate addresses in California, purporting to disprove or improve
Albert Einstein’s monumental work on the theory of relativity.
The assessment of scientific theories, and criticisms of them,
should be based on the merits of each case, rather than on
the addresses from which they come.
Although Maddox (1995) describes more modern ways of
measuring the deflection of radiation by a gravitational field,
he appears to be willing to consider the possibility that gen-
eral relativity may not be the last word; the last paragraph of
his article is as follows:
The crying need remains what it has been for the past two
decades, that of marrying together general relativity and quan-
tum mechanics. As things are, they are like chalk and cheese.
It will be a great surprise if general relativity survives that mar-
As pointed out by Earman and Glymour (1980), it was
Eddington’s belief that confirmation of Einstein’s prediction
had a beneficial effect on scientific relations between England
and Germany, and it is fair to ask whether that beneficial
effect was sufficient to justify the announcement of the results
is being decisively in favor of Einstein’s theory when they
vere not. It is also fair to ask, today, whether continued belief
n the decisiveness of the results as announced in November
919 is beneficial to science and scientific objectivity, or
ihether scientific progress would be improved by a more
pen acknowledgment of the inaccuracies and uncertainties
1 the observations. Even if it is argued that Einstein’s general
ieory has been supported by subsequent experimental obser-
~tions, that does not alter the fact that, at an extremely
important scientific meeting which had enormously far-
aching consequences, the audience was misinformed by
riinent scientists about the phenomenon that was the main
eme of the meeting. That historical fact is not wiped out by
ty subsequent experimental results, whatever they may be.
Because of the euphoric veneration of Einstein and rela-
tivity in November 1919, the objectivity with which sci-
ence is supposed to act has been compromised, and the
search for better theories has been inhibited. Canonization,
deification, and claims of personal communication from
Nature, should have no place in science. If the findings of the
eclipse expeditions had been announced as being inconclu-
sive instead of decisive in 1919, general relativity would have
had to compete with other possible theories, such as
Gerber’s, to explain certain astronomical observations, and a
better theory might eventually have been found. In the
author’s opinion, the confident announcement of the deci-
sive confirmation of Einstein’s general theory in November
1919 was not a triumph of science, as it is often portrayed,
but one of the most unfortunate events in the history of
twentieth century science.
The author is grateful to Dr. Paul Marmet, Department of
Physics, University of Ottawa, for bringing to his attention
the work of Paul Gerber.
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