Home » Intelligent Design, News, Science » Memo to ASA: If everyone tried to do “consensus science,” there would BE no science

Memo to ASA: If everyone tried to do “consensus science,” there would BE no science

"It takes genuine talent to stay right in the middle of the consensus."

We got a note about a recent editorial in the American Scientific Affiliation Newsletter, by executive director Randy Isaacs, plumping for consensus science:

Too often as Christians, we seek to achieve harmony between science and faith by modifying science or by adhering to alternative interpretations of the Bible or of theology. What does this mean for the ASA? We encourage diversity and strive for dialog among various viewpoints. We do not require concurrence with consensus scientific thought, but we do expect that challenges be addressed with integrity by following accepted scientific methodology. The ASA respectfully listens and fosters discussions of such ideas, but in the end, the standards of consensus science and the basic creeds remain the appropriate criteria for assessing our progress. In all things, we seek a better understanding of what God has revealed to us through his Word and his creation.

Another person has written to say:

If everyone tried to do “consensus science,” there would BE no science — meaning, risky hypothesis-formation, leading to new knowledge.

This could probably be described by an elegant mathematical model, but this simple analogy will have to do for now. Imagine a flock of sheep, where every sheep wants to be as close as possible to the center of the herd — the “consensus” point, if you will. Given that the center point is, by definition, not the risky periphery, no sheep will stay at the edge even for a moment if he can avoid it.

Thus no sheep will venture out on his own. No new hypotheses.

Net movement of the herd as a whole: zero.

Historically, centuries have passed when consensus science reigned. Achievement was measured in the persecutions of dissenters – that was pretty much all they had to show for it.

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One Response to Memo to ASA: If everyone tried to do “consensus science,” there would BE no science

  1. It seems to me that the sentence, “We do not require concurrence with consensus scientific thought, but we do expect that challenges be addressed with integrity by following accepted scientific methodology.” in the ASA quote defines their policy, and I don’t believe that any ID proponent who is also a scientist would disagree with it. For example, Stephen Meyer goes to great lengths in “Signature in the Cell” to demonstrate that his conclusions are the result of established scientific method used in the historical sciences.

    I think that in the light of this, the phrase “the standards of consensus science” later in the quote in all likelihood refers to consensus methodology, not consensus theory.

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