Randomization It’s interesting—but probably not significant—that the earliest advocates for what was later considered the first step in the Scientific Revolution were all woomeisters, who were right for the wrong reasons. I think it's probably very significant! As you've explained, Ptolemy+Aristotle was a strong local maximum in theory-space. If you practice the "half-baked speculations I came up with after reading the Timaeus too many times" method of astronomy, you're more likely to random-walk yourself out of it. I wonder if that's a general pattern: given an accepted theory that hasn't been meaningfully improved upon for centuries, if a better theory is discovered it will always be discovered by crackpots investigating really terrible ideas.