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In the first half of the 19th century the theory of evolution was mired in conjecture until Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace compiled a body of evidence and posited a mechanism—natural selection—for powering the evolutionary machine.

The theory of continental drift, proposed in 1915 by Alfred Wegener, was not accepted by most scientists until the 1960s, with the discovery of midoceanic ridges, geomagnetic patterns corresponding to continental plate movement, and plate tectonics as the driving motor.

Data and theory. Evidence and mechanism. These are the twin pillars of sound science. Without data and evidence, there is nothing for a theory or mechanism to explain. Without a theory and mechanism, data and evidence drift aimlessly on a boundless sea.

For more than a century, claims have been made for the existence of psi, or psychic phenomena. In the late 19th century organizations such as the Society for Psychical Research were begun to employ rigorous scientific methods in the study of psi, and they had world-class scientists in support, including none other than Wallace (Darwin was skeptical). In the 20th century psi periodically appeared in serious academic research programs, from Joseph B. Rhine's experiments at Duke University in the 1930s to Daryl J. Bem's research at Cornell University in the 1990s.

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Category: Science