Welcome to the Vindicated, where for the next four weeks we’ll be ruminating on the deeply satisfying, uniquely human thrill of being proven right, against the odds, no matter the cost. We’ll be bringing you stories of innovators, entrepreneurs, prognosticators, heretics, artists, thinkers, and everyday people whose ideas were initially ignored or dismissed as crazy but ultimately found acceptance. We’ll also examine what it takes to survive as an intellectual and creative outcast in a world that’s not quite ready for what you’re selling.
We’ll look at Vindication with a capital V, so often afforded after death, as it was in the case of 19th-century Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who ended up straightjacketed in an insane asylum, beaten to death by guards, his theory on hygiene — that doctors should wash their hands before surgery — having been roundly rejected and ridiculed by the medical community. Or Edmond Halley, who didn’t get to live to see his comet return to Earth in 1758, as he predicted it would, in an epic confirmation of Newtonian physics.
But we’ll also explore variations on the theme in lower case, like that triumphant feeling you get from proving to your husband once and for all that his long-cut route to the grocery store is exactly 4.36 minutes slower than yours — and all the attendant consequences. We hope to find out what it’s like to be proven innocent, to have everyone think you’re crazy when you’re not, and to get up close to the thin line between delusion and conviction. (By the way, Hemingway wasn’t paranoid — the FBI really was stalking him.) We’ll have fun with rejection letters, mea culpas, and scientific studies, and lament the indignity of the posthumous Pulitzer. And in the end, we’ll try to leave some deserving subjects feeling a bit more vindicated than when we started. — the editor