In 1912, when Alfred Wegener first publicized his theory of continental drift, it was met with great skepticism. Wegener was a meteorologist, and the geology community viewed him as a naive outsider. Scientists “are very suspicious of fundamental novelty,” and rightly so — extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (a phrase popularized by Carl Sagan, but drawing from the words of Laplace and Hume). There are a lot of crackpots out there with theories, after all.
But there’s also great power in approaching a scientific question from a novel point of view. If you’re not schooled in the dogma of the field, you’re not limited by it. This remains something of a struggle for most researchers and journal editors — remaining true to one’s established field and a high level of rigor while still being open to new ideas.
The video below, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Biointeractive educational resources tells Wegener’s story. It took until the 1970’s for enough evidence to be collected that Wegener’s theory that the continents moved to be generally accepted.