Consensus is when everyone agrees to just ignore the problems

From the Australian (Paul Monk, February 7, 2011), on the dangers of consensus in science:

… we are justified in being wary of foreclosing major debates based on scientific consensus, since it can be in error. Second, it shows that the way to challenge and correct scientific consensus is not through polemic or denial, but through specifying crucial variables and deductions and testing them scrupulously, in the manner of Hubble. Third, it shows that there is, nonetheless, such a thing as scientific consensus and that when handled in the manner just described, it tends to prove self-correcting. Fourth, it shows that ideally such correction will occur, as it did between Hubble and Shapley, on the basis of lucid examination of "the various possibilities". Finally, it shows that overwhelmingly human beings have always lived oblivious to the truth about the natural world and that only exacting and brilliant science has been able to discover what that truth is.

Well, foreclosing debate is a way of enshrining mediocrities and enthroning tax burdens. If that's what you want, take it and run, please.

All that said, speaking for myself, I have no idea what "the truth about the natural world is." I'm not certain of my uncertainty but am certain of one thing: Whatever the truth is, is well beyond the reach of the dullard who wouldn't know what it would be like to doubt, for example, the Darwin lobby.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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