The Role of the Heretic
What does one do with a heretic?
We know the answer if the "one" referred to is a powerful religious orthodoxy.The heretic can be burned at the stake.
If the "one" is a powerful political orthodoxy, the heretic can be sent to a concentration camp.
If the "one" is a powerful socioeconomic orthodoxy, the heretic can be prevented from earning a living.
But what if the "one" is a powerful scientific orthodoxy?
In that case, very little can be done, because even the most powerful scientific orthodoxy is not very powerful. To be sure, if the heretic is himself a scientist and depends on some organized scientific pursuit for his living or for his renown, things can be made hard for him. He can be deprived of government grants, of prestige-filled appointments, of access to the learned journals.
This is bad enough, to be sure, and not lightly to be condoned, but it is peanuts compared to the punishments that could be, and sometimes are, visited on heretics by the other orthodoxies.
Then, too, the religious, political, and socioeconomic orthodoxies are universal in their power. A religious orthodoxy in full flight visits its punishments not on priests alone; nor a political one on politicians alone; nor a socioeconomic one on society's leaders alone. No one is immune to their displeasure.
The scientific orthodoxy, however, is completely helpless if the heretic is not himself a professional scientist—if he does not depend on grants or appointments, and if he places his views before the world through some medium other than the learned journals.