The following words are by Alan O. Kelly of Carlsbad, California, printed in the February 1952 issue of Scientific Monthly, without further comment.
“It is our observation that the great majority of people who deliberately decide to be scientists, and so educate themselves, are those who are psychologically unfit it to be real creative thinkers. They go into science because they are afraid to think for themselves. They lack self-confidence; they want to lean on the Orthodox, great authorities. The average scientist never dreams of questioning authority. …
…He takes for granted what the average scientist appears to be different; he fears to be called a crackpot or a crank. He may claim that he cannot afford to jeopardize his job or his professional standing, but actually he knows that he hasn’t got what it takes.… Living by authority himself, he cannot understand one who does not.… He considers himself a thinker or as belonging to a class of outstanding individuals who are thinkers. He has been trained to believe that conservatism and book knowledge are thinking and will somehow lead to the advancement of science without imagination.
[Dr. Laurence] Lafleur argues that we cannot afford to discard accepted theory for new when the great body of scientistsagrees with the old; that we cannot ignore this great weight of scientific opinion. We should like to inquire how, if they refuse to think for themselves, they can be said to have an opinion or how it can carry much weight?
The crank, on the other hand, “has no fear of making mistakes,” yet “this is a major requirement for anyone who would propound a new theory or to do creative work. Edison, as everyone knows, was the outstanding example of a crank who made thousands of mistakes and cared not a whit what anyone else thought or said.” [Taken from same letter.]