Scientific censorship

Other Names:
Non-acceptance of new scientific theories
Intolerance of scientific discovery

Some systems of scientific thinking are too inflexible to allow for new thinking – which may even be branded as a kind of heresy if current scientific thinking also forms part of political or religious ideology. Otherwise, new theories may simply be written off as eccentricities or not worth considering. Scientific rivalry may play a part in holding back new ideas, as may the determination to cling to old and comfortable understandings.


An extreme example of scientific censorship is the emprisonment of the Italian mathematician Galileo by the Vatican counsel in 1633. Galileo's conjecture that the earth spun on its own axis as it moved around the sun was considered by the Vatican a heresy in its contradiction to long-accepted biblical passages. It was the Vatican's understanding that the sun moved around the earth, as the earth was supposedly the centre of the cosmological system. Forced to repent, Galileo spent the final eight years of his life in prison. Although Galileo's theory proved true in the following century, the Vatican formulated an official apology and recognition of his efforts later in 1992. Such was the result of an established institution's difficulty in dissociating faith with an ancient cosmology.

Reduced By:
Scientific arrogance
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
22.05.2019 – 15:40 CEST