The Downfall Of Science In Italy After The Galileo Case


I was wondering what impact Galileo`s conviction had on science in Italy, so I took a look at the database Charles Murray sent me of the 4002 eminent artists and scientists he compiled from leading reference books for his 2003 book Human Accomplishment.

From 1000 AD to Galileo`s conviction in 1632, Italy furnished 34.7% of the world`s scientific eminence. From then up through 1950, it only accounted for 3.46%. Now that`s what I call an order of magnitude!

Italian contributions to science (measured at the scientist`s 40th birthday) continued on fairly strong for the rest of the 17th Century, so the Galileo trial impact wasn`t immediate. Of course, the 17th Century was like Andy Warhol`s factory–everybody was a genius! (Except, in the 17th Century there really were geniuses throughout Europe). But, in Italy slowly things sloooowed down, as they sped up elsewhere.

We`re not used to things getting more boring and unproductive, but it has been a common tendency throughout history, and one we may get familiar with again.