Surprising things believed by extraordinary scientists

I mean beliefs that most of their contemporaries strongly believed were completely misguided, and which never gained any significant traction.

It would be fascinating to have a list of things which came under strong censure for a time, but which were later found to be true. There are many examples of such. That's not this list, however.

I mean beliefs about science, not their opinions on social issues, or policy, favorite breakfast cereals etc.

I set a cutoff of after 1900. Standards have changed so much that it's hard to know what to make of earlier unusual beliefs. Newton was an alchemist, and Kepler an astrologer; I don't know how strange that seemed to their contemporaties however, and don't want to put in the work.

I'm not listing contemporary hot button topics (e.g., Covid).

I've concentrated on extraordinary scientists. Not all have Nobel Prizes, but all have done Nobel-caliber or close work.

I haven't listed things that seem to me less than clearcut. Freeman Dyson is sometimes described as a "climate change denialist", but in primary literature he repeatedly and unambiguously says humans are warming the planet. He certainly had less faith in climate models than many climate scientists, and more interest in technological solutions, but there's a lot of variation among professional climate scientists, too. I think you could fairly say he had opinions most climate scientists disagreed with, and often considered very uninformed, but on just the main scientific (as opposed to policy) point, are humans warming the earth, he seemed to agree with the consensus.

I am not at all saying that the people listed below are on an equal footing. I suspect it would have been very interesting to talk to Turing about parapsychology; I suspect Kary Mullis was just obviously wrong about HIV/AIDS. Turing mentions parapsychology in passing; Josephson has written multiple papers about it.

Why write this list? Mostly as a reminder to myself that: (a) imaginative people can sometimes be very wrong; (b) this may, on net, be a positive, even if these particular examples are wrong.

Thanks to suggestions from: Ilan Gur, Gwern and Paul Simeon.

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