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Podcast: Why consensus doesn’t count in science

Here’s a podcast on why consensus is meaningless in a field like science.

But honestly, I don’t know why John West bothers to explain it. It shouldn’t need explaining.

Consensus is meaningless in any field where being right means hitting a target.

You can cure cancer? Who cares whether people who can’t cure cancer disagree with you?

You can put a man on Mars? Who cares about the people who said it couldn’t be done?

Would you rather be part of the 95% consensus that didn’t hit the bull’s eye, or the 5% non-consensus that did?

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Yuh, I thought you’d say that ….

Also, just up at the Post-Darwinist

Down the bayou: Louisiana passes “it’s okay to doubt” act

Talk at University of Toronto suggests an organism can change species during its lifetime. No riots ensue.

Darwinism and popular culture: Celebrating Darwin in the prison system

Does Dawkins still have any connection to science?

Evolutionary psychology: Didn’t you know that this stuff is supposed to “rile” you?

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4 Responses to Podcast: Why consensus doesn’t count in science

  1. It’s pretty funny to look back at prior “consensus views.”

    Remember that imminent ice age everyone was talking about a few decades back?

  2. You develop a persistent pain in your abdomen. You know a lawyer who is also – as far as you can tell – knowledgeable about medicine. He tells you it is most probably just gas. To be safe you go to your doctor who refers you an oncologist who tells you there is a cancer which should be excised as soon as possible. Not wanting to go under the surgeon’s knife unless you have to, you consult a number of other specialists who all agree that your pain is caused by a cancer.

    Who do you believe and, more importantly, what do you do?

    A consensus is not always going to be right but neither is a tiny minority always right just because they are a minority. If you have no other means of deciding, but you have to make some sort of decision, who is more likely to be right?

  3. Seversky at #2:

    You make a good point. To further your analysis, doctors and lawyers seem like mutually exclusive realms with very little overlap. However, take another example like the Professor of Materials Science who believed that at least some of the top tiers of stones composing the Great Pyramid appeared to have been cast (like concrete), as opposed to taken from a quarry (the more traditional view). The paper(s)of the materials scientists were published in peer-reviewed journals. When Zahi Hawass, eminent Egyptologist got wind of this, he prounounced the findings “stupid”. Who should we trust, the Egyptologists or the Professor of Materials Science? Just another example to think about.

  4. Regarding the “it’s okay to doubt act”, the state of Mississippi has a bill that would allow a 200-word disclaimer regarding evolution to be put in its textbooks: http://christianpost.com/Educa.....tbooks-20/

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