For countless generations, accurate data and thorough research have been allowing humankind to expand their knowledge of both the world around them and existence as a whole. As a rule, though, people can be very stubborn – they don’t like to have their perceptions challenged and their closely-held beliefs changed. Without immutable, unchallengeable data, it’s almost impossible to change the way that human beings perceive their world, and even then it can be a challenge! Here are two examples of how data has been used to change perceptions that were previously upheld as fact.
Thanks to frequent references in the sanctified pages of the bible and other religious texts, it was a firmly held belief throughout much of human history that the Earth was the immovable centre of the universe and all the other heavenly bodies revolved around it. In the 16th century, Copernicus proposed the notion of heliocentrism – the idea that the Earth and other planets in fact revolved around the sun, and even presented a full discussion of the subject, known as the Revolutionibus. Accepted by some, Copernicus’ revolutionary ideas nonetheless met with considerable resistance, and another exponent of heliocentrism – Galileo Galilei – was banned by the Vatican from ever teaching or holding heliocentric beliefs some 80 years or more after the first publication of Copernicus’ texts. Eventually, enough data was provided by scientists and astronomers for the theory to become widely accepted midway through the 18th century.
The age of the Earth
According to the teachings of Young Earth Creationism still subscribed to by some people, the age of the planet earth is something less than 10,000 years. This belief was held by many people throughout history, as without data to the contrary, there was nothing to suggest that the Earth could be significantly older than 10,000 years. However, as the discovery of fossils preserved in rock strata began to be more broadly understood, geologists and physicists started to believe that the Earth must be far more ancient than was previously supposed. Initial estimates by physicist William Thomson put the age of the Earth at anywhere between 20 and 400 million years, but it wasn’t until much later and the invention of radiometric age dating that a more accurate age of 4.54 billion years was hit upon. Only accurate data samples and dedicated analysis allowed this seemingly ludicrous hypothesis to be widely accepted by the scientific community and the world in general.
It’s plain to see how important dedicated research, accurate data capture methodology and rigorous analysis of that data is to the scientific community, particularly in the face of such academic and intellectual stubbornness. If you want your study to have enough weight to win over your audience, you need the highest-quality data available. Take a look at our range of flexible data capture services to ensure that you can hit upon persuasive facts and form watertight arguments from your findings.