The danger of scientific consensus

One of the most un-scientific mantras bandied about in the debates over climate change and Darwinian evolution is that the science is settled; there’s a consensus in the scientific community.  This notion that there is a consensus among scientists is dangerous to the philosophy of science.

Why is this dangerous?  It creates a prohibitive atmosphere for dissent.  Because there is a consensus lauded, credentialed scientists who voice any opposition or question the reigning paradigms are dismissed as quacks, or worse.  Why would anyone risk their career, their ability to secure grants, their opportunity for tenure by dissenting from “the consensus”?  There is little to no benefit in challenging the status quo.  Someone who might be considering challenging the consensus has two choices: risk your career, or don’t do the research (i.e., shut up and tow the line).

If an evolutionary biologist hints at challenging the Darwinian model, he is castigated as a creationist who believes the Bible over science.  Likewise, a climate researcher who investigates climate anomalies and challenges the consensus climate models, they’re branded AGW denying conspiracy theorists who resist the evidence.

You see, when one appeals to a consensus they will automatically resist any data and evidence which runs contrary to their firmly held conclusions.  If you can paint the dissenting professional as a “denier” or “creationist” you essentially color them as crazy, someone not to be trusted or considered.  We all know we can’t trust crazy people to produce unbiased studies, right?  In fact, we don’t have to waste any time reading what the people who buck the consensus publish… because they’re crazy.  See how that works?

Just like we don’t have to consider what white supremacists have to say about minorities, we don’t have to consider what “deniers” and “creationists” have to say either.  See that?  Those who question the Darwinian and AGW models are just like white supremacists.

Comments

  1. Perfect John, just perfect!

  2. Wah wah wah…

    The creationists keep dressing up their beliefs with different book covers and presenting it for peer review and then cry about the review process when their beliefs are rejected due to the lack of evidence to support their claims.

    The scientific community encourages dissent as long as it’s backed by actual evidence. Most of the dissent from the consensus for Darwinian evolution is based on religious belief. Most of the dissent against climate change is funded by those who keep promoting the supposed controversy.

    • Case in point. Any dissent is only because of religious belief. Right there you prove my point.

    • zqtx,
      There is no factual evidence for evolution, and it is only a belief pretended to be evidence. And don’t go throwing in examples of “micro-evolution” (adaptation within a species) pretending that it is evidence for “macro-evolution” (one species changing into another).

  3. paynehollow says:

    Debate and reasonable questions are always appropriate.

    So here is one: WHERE is the evidence that NASA, the AMA, the AMS and others are involved in a conspiracy to spread false reports about climate change?

    You see, it works both ways. You can’t make crazy and unsubstantiated claims and expect to be taken seriously. But reasonable questions can always be encouraged and asked.

    ~Dan

  4. Case in point: Religious belief is not evidence, hence it is dismissed. Plenty of people have all kinds of beliefs without evidence. Come back when you actually have evidence and it will be considered. Until then, quit whining about how the process works.

  5. You’re welcome.

    So, based on your argument, we must accept the beliefs of scientologists as evidence for the existence of thetans. We must also accept transubstantiation and magical underwear as evidence as well. I guess anything goes in your world.

  6. The criticism against scientific consensus sounds like justifying cherry picking fallacy.

  7. So, John, I’m curious. How do you determine what religious beliefs should be acceptable as evidence towards a scientific claim?

    • Z

      Im not saying to include religious belief. What I am saying is that if someone doesnt believe the evidence fits or if they believe there is evidence to the contrary, they are responded to iust like you have done.

  8. Way to dodge the question, as usual.

    I’ll say it again, just in case you missed it the first time – The scientific community encourages dissent as long as it’s backed by actual evidence.

    • Funny how they want “actual evidence,” but when it comes to evolution they have no actual evidence and yet refuse to hear any dissent.

    • But Z, I dont think they do. Look at how some of the legitimate ID proponents who have been branded and fired and denied tenure. None espouse religion but its caricatured as that.

    • Z

      Glenns poiny is that evolution seems to be accepted based on extrapolation and apparent homogeneity. Genetic similarities arent always helpful since we share 97% of our DNA with mice. So someone questioning the paradigm is painted the way you have done here. That’s the point.

  9. Glenn, I’m sorry for ignoring you, but it really is hard to take you seriously.

    John, “legitimate ID proponents”? What evidence do those proponents have without delving into their religious beliefs?

  10. zqtx
    Yes, it is hard to take me seriously because I speak the truth.

  11. Interesting claims in the video about the reduced parts having a function. The problem is that, while have parts which MIGHT be able to do something, he did not demonstrate that they DID anything. Nor did he have the foggiest idea where the parts came from to begin with – and none of that supports evolutionism no matter how much he asserts otherwise.

  12. Glenn,

    Type III secretion system exists in nature and it is functional.
    Thank you again for exposing your ignorance about biological facts.

    • Isu
      Thank you for not paying attention. In the CONTEXT of the bacterial flagellum, it now has no function which was provided by the whole. Without the whole, how now does it know what to do with its leftover function? And what intelligence decides to add to it to make a flagellum – or does it just wake up one morning and say, “Hey I want to be a bacterial flagellum, and I need to go look for some parts.”?

      Take one part off of a mouse trap and for the mousetrap it no longer has a function, but could be used for many other things. THAT is the point of irreducible complexity. The part itself has no function which can lead to what it is a part of when fully functioning. Can I take a staple from a mouse trap and use it for something else? Yes, but the mouse trap itself has been rendered useless because it was reduced to parts beyond what its irreducible complexity allowed. BUT, it takes intelligence to take a missing part elsewhere and use it for another function.

      The argument from evolutionists is all smoke and mirrors.

  13. mmmike917 says:

    When people succeed, they’re geniuses. Until then, they’re kooks. Consensus thinking puts a damper on scientific inquiry more than “religious belief” ever could. Case in point, so called “junk-DNA.” It used to be “known” through scientific consensus that non-coding regions of DNA was useless junk left over from our long evolutionary history. Design theorists and “creationists” tried to say, “Not so fast. Just because we don’t know what its function is doesn’t mean there isn’t one.” But they were laughed at, ridiculed and ignored. Lo and behold, scientific research began revealing a couple years ago that these “junk” DNA regions actually perform very important regulatory functions and discoveries are currently being made. I can’t help wondering how many years sooner we might have discovered this if the scientists with “religious beliefs” hadn’t been summarily dismissed out of hand. I think methodological naturalism has held back scientific progress quite long enough :)

  14. Glenn

    I did pay attention.

    You said:
    “The problem is that, while have parts which MIGHT be able to do something, he did not demonstrate that they DID anything.”

    The fact is that parts have been demonstrated to DO something.

    So that ID postulate has been proven false.

    • ISU,
      Again, the CONTEXT was in relation to what it WAS doing.

      You are still a hopelessly foolish follower of evolutionism, worship the creation rather than the creator. Have a nice day.

  15. Glenn,

    I didn’t missed the context. Parts DO function.

    I’m still a intelligent follower of science not falling into hoplessly foolish fanatism and I don’t worship the creation at all.

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