Postcard from iconoclasts

OK, what is an iconoclast?

An iconoclast is someone who doesn't believe things just because others do. They are often thought of as difficult people to deal with largely because they don't automatically accept or believe.

I've met a few over the years, starting with a teacher a very long time ago who refused to believe that the planet Pluto existed. This was well before the demotion to dwarf planet status, she just plain didn't accept it. At one point, my homework got penalised because I mentioned it. Being more stubborn than was wise, even at that age, I made things worse by arguing, and even bringing an astronomy book into class and showing an article about Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto's discoverer. It didn't help.

Years later, at university I had a girlfriend who was studying to be a geologist. I remember her as petite and enthusiastic, and a firm disbeliever in plate tectonics. This in spite of the scientific community accepting it's validity by the 1960s. I don't recall why she felt so strongly, but I must have learned something since the Pluto episode, because we didn't argue about it.

At about the same time, there was a guy studying Environmental Science who was a fundamentalist Christian. Evolution was a sizeable part of the work, and I was surprised that he had no problem with any of the content. When we talked about it, he was charmingly frank - his view was that he wanted a degree, was happy to do the work, but saw no reason at all to change his beliefs. It was a long time ago, so I don't remember if he got his degree, but I can see no reason why he shouldn't.

So, how many iconoclasts have you met?

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