— Robert Chambers (publisher, born 1802) Scottish publisher and writer 1802 - 1871
Origine: Testimony: its Posture in the Scientific World (1859), p. 10
Contesto: The fall of meteoric stones was occasionally reported by good witnesses during many ages. But science did not understand how stones should be formed in or beyond the atmosphere... The accounts of the fall of meteoric stones were held to be incompatible with the laws of nature, and specimens which had been seen to fall by hundreds of people were preserved in cabinets of natural history as ordinary minerals, 'which the credulous and superstitious regarded as having fallen from the clouds.' A committee of the French Academy of Sciences, including the celebrated Lavoisier, unanimously rejected an account of three nearly contemporary descents of meteorites which reached them on the strongest evidence. After two thousand years of incredulity, the truth in this matter was forced upon the scientific world about the beginning of the present century. There would have been at any time, of course, an instant cessation of skepticism if any one could have shewn, a priori, from ascertained principles in connection with the atmosphere, how stones were to be expected to fall from the sky. But what is this but to say that facts by themselves, however well attested, are wholly useless in such circumstances to the cultivators of physical science, while any kind of vague hypothesis can be brought forward in opposition to them? What is it but to put conjecture or prejudice above fact, and indeed utterly to repudiate the Baconian method?