Why consensus science is anti-science
A major argument against opposition to Darwinism is the claim that evolutionary naturalism is the consensus of the science community, therefore not open to debate. A review of the problems caused by consensus science indicates that, as a whole, it harms scientific progress because wrong ideas become established that impede the research required to determine the actual situation. Reasons why incorrect conclusions become consensus science include failure to carefully follow standard science research protocol, such as strictly adhering to proper research procedures, and lack of replication. This is compounded by the fact that once an idea becomes mainstream in science, it is difficult to overturn it.
One of the major methods employed to oppose critics of Darwinian theory is the consensus science argument. Consensus science is the claim that evolution is true because it is agreed by the proper authorities, meaning that most all scientists accept evolution; and, therefore, opposition to Darwinism is ‘obviously’ as foolish as claiming that the earth is flat.1 A typical example of the consensus claim is a statement by the National Academy of Science that “The scientific consensus around [Darwinian] evolution is overwhelming”, and, therefore, ideas that oppose it are properly censored.2
Becky Ashe, president of the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, wrote in opposition to a law that would protect the careers of teachers who critiqued evolution, that “the scientific theory of evolution is accepted by mainstream scientists around the world as the cornerstone of biology and the single, unifying explanation for the diversity of life on earth and is, therefore, beyond question.”3
Anthropology professor Cameron Smith also has equated scientific consensus with unimpeachable fact: “There is consensus among the scientific community that Darwinian evolution does occur [and] that it is a fact”, not a theory.4 Furthermore, the distinguished Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng opined, “A theologian should not cast doubt on a scientific consensus, but see how he can deal with it”, by which he means the theologian must conform theology to the current scientific consensus.5
This paper documents the fact that consensus science can interfere with the goal of science, that of discovering accurate knowledge about the natural world. Numerous historical examples are cited to illustrate this point.
Consensus science harms science
Daniel Sarewitz, director of the Consortium for Science at Arizona State University, arguing that consensus science actually hurts science, wrote that “When scientists wish to speak with one voice, they typically do so in a most unscientific way: the consensus report.”6 The problem, he notes, is that “the process of achieving such a consensus often acts against … [science], and can undermine the very authority it seeks to protect”, namely the authority of science.6 He adds that, in contrast to “a pallid consensus, a vigorous disagreement between experts would provide decision-makers with well-reasoned alternatives that inform and enrich discussions as a controversy evolves, keeping ideas in play and options open.”6
Furthermore, another problem is that the scientific consensus claim “creates a public expectation of infallibility that, if undermined, can erode public confidence [in science].”6 Of course, this is exactly what has happened in no small number of cases. The “idea that science best expresses its authority through consensus statements is at odds with a vibrant scientific enterprise” because
“… science depends for its progress on continual challenges to the current state of always imperfect knowledge. Science would provide better value to politics if it articulated the broadest set of plausible interpretations, options and perspectives, imagined by the best experts, rather than forcing convergence to an allegedly unified voice.”6
In short, Sarewitz concluded that the voice of science should be to agree to disagree. Although consensus reports are the “bedrock of science-based policy-making”, the fact is that “disagreement and arguments are more useful” for scientific advancement.6 A disparity also exists between real consensus and a consensus cobbled together by surveys of biased samples, such as faculty at elite universities, often for political or social goals. Real consensus is based on the replication of carefully designed, controlled experiments. Reality may lie beneath the surface of consensus claims, but it exists and needs to be searched for, a task impeded by consensus science.
Author Michael Crichton condemns consensus science
In a talk given at California Institute of Technology, Harvard-trained physician Michael Crichton, after quoting Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich’s claim that “scientists are always making absurd statements”, argued against the belief that a view was most always correct when a “consensus of a very large group of scientists” existed.7 In his talk Dr Crichton examined in detail the “notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science.” He concluded that consensus science is “an extremely pernicious development” because historically
“… the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other … you’re being had.”7
The reason he condemns consensus science is because the task
“… of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”7
Crichton added that “in science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.”7 In support of this claim, Crichton noted that the “greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus”, opining that there
“… is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science … the claim of consensus is invoked … only in situations where the science is not solid enough … . Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away [because it is a verifiable fact].”7
He added that “the track record of the consensus [in science] is nothing to be proud of”, noting a few of the many examples that exist, such as not too long ago the number one
“… killer of women was fever following childbirth. One woman in six died of this fever. In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no. … . Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent ‘skeptics’ around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored … despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.”7
Another example is that, in the 1920s, tens of thousands of Americans were dying of pellagra and consensus science said pellagra
“… was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the ‘pellagra germ’. The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory. Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. The consensus continued to disagree with him. … until the 1920s … despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.”7
Crichton observed that examples of where consensus science had been proven wrong can be multiplied almost endlessly, such as Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur (figure 1) and the germ theory, and hormone replacement therapy.7 One could add Dr Barry Marshall’s discovery that most peptic ulcers are caused by bacteria, not stress, as the scientific consensus believed for decades. Marshall’s papers were rejected and he earned the reputation of a nut due to his persistence in advocating a view that consensus science thought was irresponsible. In the end, Marshall turned out to be correct.
One of the most well-known examples of the consensus problem in science is that of Prof. Alfred Wegener, who, in 1912, proposed that all of Earth’s continents were once a single continent called Pangea, but later separated to form the major continents.8 Consensus science called his idea “German pseudoscience”, and “delirious ravings” by a nongeologist.9 University of Chicago geology professor Rollin T. Chamberlin wrote that accepting Wegener’s hypothesis would require that we
“… forget everything which has been learned in the last 70 years and start all over again.” Instead, geologists largely chose to forget Alfred Wegener, except to launch another flurry of attacks on his ‘fairy tale’ theory … . For decades afterward, older geologists warned newcomers that any hint of an interest in continental drift would doom their careers.”9
In this case, the scientific
“… consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology—until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.”7
As Conniff wrote, “the giants of geology ridiculed him [Wegener]. But nobody’s laughing now.”10 The theory’s acceptance came about “in the mid-1960s, as older geologists died off and younger ones began to accumulate proof of seafloor spreading and vast tectonic plates grinding across one another deep within the earth.”9
The case of Carl Woese
Microbiologist Carl Woese also faced enormous opposition from consensus science, but was also eventually vindicated.11 Woese proposed the existence of three domains of life, adding Archea to the established Bacteria and Eukarya. In spite of Woese’s many scientific accomplishments, scientists treated him very poorly “for nearly two decades for uprooting the tree of life. One does not mess with the tree [of life]. But … Woese was not afraid to question dogma.”12 At a conference hosted by Science magazine, criticism against him was so vitriolic and unprofessional that Woese “sat silently for the most part with a somewhat irritated expression upon his face, justifiably so.”13
Professor Friend noted that none of Woese’s chief critics had not even bothered to read Woese’s Archaea paper when it was first published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal.14 His major critic, the eminent evolutionary biologist Salavodor Luria,
“… reacted by deriding any notion of the possibility for the existence of a third domain of life. The hostility, Woese said, was shocking … . He was called a crank and a crackpot, out of his league being neither a microbiologist nor an evolutionist … . He anticipated criticism, but in the form of scientific debate.”15
Woese was not even “invited to conferences to speak about his work or defend it … . Postdoctoral students did not flock to Woese’s lab.”14 Woese wrote that Salvador Luria telephoned his close colleague, Ralph Wolfe, who told him, “Ralph, you must dissociate yourself from this nonsense, or you’re going to ruin your career!”16
Professor Woese added that there existed a significant amount of grumbling by biologists and “only one biologist had the courage to challenge the archaeal concept in print at that time”. The reason for the opposition was not that he proposed “a third type of living system per se … but because their presumed existence violated a central dogma, the eukaryote-prokaryote dichotomy … rather than question the dogma, most biologists were content to condemn the finding.”15
Woese’s theory opposed the theory that prokaryotes evolved into eukaryotes and this new life form created major difficulties for this theory. For this reason, one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, Harvard’s Ernst Mayr, had joined in the attacks against Woese and “to his death [Mayr] refused to accept that Archaea represent a new domain of life.”15
Consensus science misleads scientific planetary research
Another example where consensus science hurt scientific progress was in planetary research. Kaufman wrote that a
“… consensus exists within the astronomy community that to have any chance of supporting life, a solar system needs a huge Jupiter-or Saturn-sized planet (300 and 100 times more massive than Earth, respectively) in roughly the [same] locations where they sit in our solar system.”17
He reasoned that this would be the case
“… because the gravitational force of the giant planets serves to pull in and destroy asteroids and other celestial bodies that might otherwise head into the ‘habitable’ zone and smash the small rocky planets to bits. This is why in astronomical circles Jupiter is often called our protective ‘big brother’ or ‘big bouncer’. But if Jupiters and Saturns in many other solar systems are … in what is considered the wrong place, then they can offer no protection at all.”17
But as more new planets were discovered,
“… it became clear that many, and probably most, were strikingly different than what almost all astronomers and planetary scientists expected, what Butler calls the ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’ phase of extrasolar planet research … . The consensus of the astronomy community had been that distant solar systems would be similar to ours.”18
Thus, using our solar system as a model turned out to be worse than having no model,
“… because it leads you down one road and you don’t imagine the others. But because of research … the field of planet hunting has abandoned its previous assumptions and now is working hard to make sense of the new reality that solar systems structured like our own are a distinct minority.”17
The nuclear winter fiasco
Another example of breaking from consensus science was the claim made in the 1970s that an atomic bomb would result in a year or so without summer weather called nuclear winter. We now know that the nuclear winter idea was not supported by valid science but rather served policy ends, and was promoted from the start by a well-orchestrated media campaign. This was clear from the nuclear winter advocates’ response to criticism:
“Although Richard Feynman was characteristically blunt, saying, ‘I really don’t think these guys know what they’re talking about’, other prominent scientists were noticeably reticent. Freeman Dyson was quoted as saying ‘It’s an absolutely atrocious piece of science but who wants to be accused of being in favor of nuclear war?’ And Victor Weisskopf said, ‘The science is terrible but—perhaps the psychology is good’.”7
Furthermore, the man called the “father of the H bomb”, Dr Edward Teller, once said that
“While it is generally recognized that details are still uncertain and deserve much more study, Dr. Sagan nevertheless has taken the position that the whole scenario is so robust that there can be little doubt about its main conclusions. Yet … the fact that nuclear winter was a scenario riddled with uncertainties did not seem to be relevant [to Sagan’s conclusion].”7
The nuclear winter idea soon petered out and, as the media glare faded, the scenario became less persuasive. John Maddox, editor of Nature,
“… repeatedly criticized its claims; within a year, Stephen Schneider, one of the leading figures in the climate model, began to speak of ‘nuclear autumn’. It just didn’t have the same ring. A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a ‘year without a summer’, and endangering crops around the world.”7
None of these dire predictions ever eventuated. The lessons of nuclear winter fiasco include using
“… a catchy name, a strong policy position and an aggressive media campaign, nobody will dare to criticize the science, and in short order, a terminally weak thesis will be established as fact. After that, any criticism becomes beside the point. The war is already over without a shot being fired.”7
In short, once a scientist abandons strict adherence to the current consensus by proposing other explanations for scientific data, orthodox scientists often start proclaiming the consensus as the established truth and begin suppressing competing ideas. The result of consensus science is that one situation will result in mobilization against nuclear war, and in another context the result is
“Lysenkoism. In another, you get Nazi euthanasia. The danger is always there, if you subvert science to political ends. That is why it is so important for the future of science that the line between what science can say with certainty, and what it cannot, be drawn clearly and defended.”7
More examples of the harm of consensus science
Professor Jorge Barrio, of The Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA and Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Imaging and Biology, wrote that the
“… historical track record of scientific consensus is nothing but dismal. Many examples can be cited, but there are some classical ones. Nicholas Copernicus and his follower, Galileo Galilei [figure 2], experienced the effects of consensus when they advanced theories that planet Earth was not the center of the Universe. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were not the right time to go against established [scientific] dogmas.”19
He added that the methods for forcing
“… consensus have changed but the result could be the same: The death of the spirit. The use and abuse of ‘consensus science’ is at least partially responsible for the current crisis in the scientific and medical peer review system. Although peer review may be considered one of the sacred pillars of the scientific edifice, it has been under fire for some time now because peer review controls access to publications and funding.”19
Barrio concluded he is
“… quite certain that most of us have been—in one way or another—exposed to the concept (and consequences) of ‘consensus science’. In fact, scientific reviewers of journal articles or grant applications—typically in biomedical research—may use the term (e.g. ‘… it is the consensus in the field …’) often as a justification for shutting down ideas not associated with their beliefs.”19
The case of Semmelweis
The fact is scholars who make up the consensus do not always carefully read the scientific literature. And, significantly, science often is not a very objective process: dogma and prejudice, when suitably whitewashed, creep into science just as easily as they do in most other human enterprises, possibly more easily because, compared to politics and religion, the entry of dogma in science is unexpected.
The fact is, all too often, experimental evidence alone is not enough to overturn a science consensus. No matter how valid, new results are often explained away to defend the consensus. The classic example is the Hungarian physician Ignac Semmelweis (figure 3), who discovered that childbed fever, which typically caused a 10 to 30 percent mortality level in hospitals throughout Europe, could be largely abolished if doctors washed their hands in a chlorine solution before examining pregnant mothers. The mortality rate in Semmelweis’s own clinic dropped from 18 to zero percent after he required this practice of his staff.
This compelling evidence, though, failed to convince his superiors, in spite of the fact that doctors who were not using Semmelweis’s simple germicide technique were still losing the same number of patients as Semmelweis had before he instituted his innovation.20 Yale Professor Sherwin Nuland wrote, “The frustration of his inability to convince the medical world of a principle that seemed so obvious and had actually been proven in practice was becoming increasingly difficult to bear.”21
Semmelweis’s procedure, while obvious to us today, went contrary to the whole theory of medical consensus existing in his day. His fellow doctors, as is true of scientists today, did not accept new ideas easily. Semmelweis was eventually dismissed from the clinic, and spent the last years of his life trying to convince European doctors of his system’s effectiveness.22 The doctors refused to accept the fact that they had unwittingly caused so many patients to die with their own unwashed hands that spread the germ which caused childbed fever.
One reason for Semmelweis’s failure to convince his contemporaries was that he was an ineffective propagandist. The results of research, no matter how good, will not be implemented until a convincing communicator comes along to advertise and sell the research findings. A brilliant scientist must also be a brilliant communicator or, at the least, a very good one.
After 20 years of trying, in frustration, possibly complicated by age, Semmelweis ended up in a mental hospital, his ideas forgotten until Joseph Lister again took up his battle, this time successfully. The claim that science fundamentally differs from other belief systems because it rests on reason alone is false.23 This claim must be modified in light of what historians have to say about scientists’ resistance to new scientific ideas, and their tendency to reject ideas based on the prism of their own theories. History shows the “community of scientists is often ready to swallow whole the dogma served up to them, as long as it is palatable and has the right measure of scientific reasoning … objectivity often fails to resist infiltration by dogma.”24
Historical vs empirical science
Science can be divided into the empirical or operational sciences, such as physics and chemistry, and the historical sciences, such as paleontology and archeology. One step to help deal with the consensus problem is to stress the difference between operational science, that which can be proven by laboratory research, such as the density of gold, and historical science, such as biological origins, which evaluates existing life plus fossil evidence and then attempts to extrapolate backward in developing theories of evolution. Today experimentalists “have a tendency to disparage the claims of their historical colleagues, contending that the support offered by their evidence is too weak to count as ‘good’ science”.25 Cleland adds that a good example of this conflict between historical and operational science
“… is the startling number of physicists and chemists who attack neo-Darwinian evolution on the grounds that it hasn’t been adequately ‘tested’. The most sweeping condemnation of historical science, however, comes from Henry Gee, an editor of the prestigious science journal Nature. In Gee’s words ‘they [historical hypotheses] can never be tested by experiment, and so they are unscientific … . No science can ever be historical.’ In other words, for Gee, a genuine test of hypotheses requires classical experimentation.”26
Once consensus is established, often due to the influence of highly respected scientists, such as Steven Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan, it is often enormous to overcome. As Max Plank wrote, “scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”26
When challenged, scientists can always cite numerous examples of a scientific consensus, such as the law of gravity, which has been proven correct after numerous empirical research studies and careful examination. The problem is to avoid premature acceptance of a conclusion, especially those conclusions that support a particular political, or philosophical view, or ideology. A greater acceptance of dissident views is a step toward reducing the intellectual stranglehold that many ideas have on science.
The journal refereeing system is controlled by a closed, elite group of people who often exercise censorship that can, at times, be pernicious to the extreme. The elitism problem in science often results in ideas becoming accepted because of who said them instead of the merits of what was said. Poor ideas “get accepted because their proponents are members of the elite” group of scientists and, as a result, “good ideas may be ignored because their advocates may have poor standing in the social structure of science.”27
The elite both perpetuate their own ideas and create the next group of elites. As a result, the next elites tend to be those who agree with the ideas of the previous elites. Thus, elites and their ideas are both perpetuated, resisting change and progress, although, on the positive side, also resisting fads. To distinguish between these two options is no easy matter, and the best approach must surely be to avoid taking sides until clear evidence exists for one side or the other.
Groupthink is the social psychological phenomenon where group pressure tends to produce conformity and discourage both innovation and critical thinking. Group deliberations “sometimes amplifies a particularly vocal member’s incorrect opinions”, and, as a result, may make “us more vulnerable to various logical fallacies … studies have shown that when you bring together like-minded people and have them discuss a topic, they tend to become even more extreme in their positions.”28 Furthermore, groupthink can result from forces as
“… subtle as social pressure, an emphasis on group cohesion, the perception of someone’s status, or even who speaks first … . Given the subtle forces that can stifle candor and impede the exchange of ideas, adding an outright threat to punish speech—which happens all too often on [a college] campus—is poison to the process of getting to better, more interesting, and more thoughtful ideas.”29
The problem is, how many people will
“… play devil’s advocate on thorny public policy issues if everyone knows that the ‘wrong’ point of view can actually get you in trouble? If we want our universities to produce the best ideas, we must do more than just protect diversity of opinion; we must train and habituate students to seek out disagreement, seek out facts that might prove them wrong, and be a tough skeptical whenever they find a little too much agreement on an issue. [College] campuses, however, are often doing the precise opposite: rewarding groupthink, punishing devil’s advocates, and shutting down discussions on some of the hottest and most important topics of the day.”30
This is a common problem for students and others who have major reservations about Darwinism. Lukianoff concluded that our colleges and universities
“… take our best and brightest and put them through what is supposed to be an intellectual decathlon that helps our entire society develop better ideas. We are squandering this opportunity if we discourage dissent and if we do not train students to be brave in the face of ideas that upset them, to welcome challenging ideas, and to engage in endless thought experimentation.”30
It is clear from history that consensus science, rather than furthering scientific progress, is all too often an impediment to scientific advancement.30 The examples noted here could be multiplied by thousands to document this point. As professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, Richard Muller, concluded, “consensus science has been a notoriously poor guide for truth”.31 Science must go where the evidence leads and not blindly or apathetically follow the consensus of the orthodox scientific establishment.32 A modern example in most
“… academic institutions and not least those associated with the federal government, ID is a red flag. You can’t bring it up for discussion, except to condemn it, without the expectation of being gored or trampled to death. That’s how the ‘scientific consensus’ in favor of Darwinian evolution and materialist orthodoxy actually works.”33
ID refers to ‘intelligent design’ which is presently on the top of the list of science ideas to ridicule, and creation science is not far behind. Intelligent design and creation science are cogent present day examples of how consensus science operates to shut down open discussions of the merits of an idea that contradict consensus science and encourage distortion in science.34
The fact is, great scientific advances often begin with strong opposition. In the case of creation science and intelligent design, opposition exists even to presenting scientific data that questions neo-Darwinism or which indicates a young age for the earth or humans. As Johns Hopkins University history Professor Lawrence Principe wrote, the common belief that “truth is born only of consensus” is flawed. Truth is not a result of scientific consensus but rather “a consonance between the intellect and objective reality.”35 The push for conformity is also a contributor to the problem of fraud, the common lack of replication in science, and the problems in publishing research findings that do not agree with the scientific consensus.36
References and notes
- Ravitch, F., Marketing Intelligent Design; Law and the Creationists Agenda, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2011. Return to text.
- Anonymous, Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, 2nd edn, p. 28, 1999. Return to text.
- Ashe, B., The Tennessee Science Teachers Association Bulletin, 2012, p. 1. Return to text.
- Smith, C., The Fact of Evolution, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, p. 28, 2011. Return to text.
- Heneghan, T., Don’t Preach to Scientists in Evolution Row, Küng, templeton-cambridge.org, 2006. Return to text.
- Sarewitz, D., The voice of science: let’s agree to disagree, Nature 478(7370):7, 2011. Return to text.
- Crichton, M., Aliens Cause Global Warming, Transcript of a Caltech Lecture, 2009. Return to text.
- Levy, J., Scientific Feuds: From Galileo to the Human Genome Project, New Holland, London, pp. 22–29, 2010. Return to text.
- Conniff, R., When the earth moved, Smithsonian 43(3):36–38, 2012. Return to text.
- Conniff, ref. 9, p. 36. Return to text.
- Friend, T., The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology, The Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 64–65, 85–87, 92–93, 2007. Return to text.
- Friend, ref 11, p. 60. Return to text.
- Friend, ref. 11, p. 65. Return to text.
- Woese, C. and Fox, G., Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 74(11):5088–5090, 1977. Return to text.
- Friend, ref. 11, p. 85–86. Return to text.
- Friend, ref. 11, p. 86. Return to text.
- Kaufman M., First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth, Simon & Schuster, New York, p. 131, 2011. Return to text.
- Kaufman, ref. 17, p 130. Return to text.
- Barrio, J.R., Consensus science and the peer review, Molecular Imaging and Biology 11:293, 2009. Return to text.
- Nuland, S., The Doctors’ Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis, Norton, New York, 2003. Return to text.
- Nuland, ref. 20, p. 151. Return to text.
- Carter, K.C. and Carter, B., Childbed Fever: A Scientific Biography of Ignaz Semmelweis, Transaction Publishers, Piscataway, NJ, 2005. Return to text.
- Broad, W. and Wade, N., Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science, Simon and Schuster, New York, p. 140, 1982; Roman, M., When good scientists turn bad, Discover 9(4):50–58, 1988. Return to text.
- Broad and Wade, ref. 23, p. 193. Return to text.
- Cleland, C.E., Methodological and epistemic differences between historical science and experimental science, Philosophy of Science 69:474–496, 2002. Return to text.
- Kuhn, T., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 151, 1970. Return to text.
- Broad and Wade, ref. 23, p. 98. Return to text.
- Lukianoff, G., Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, Encounter Books, New York, p. 25, 2012. Return to text.
- Lukianoff, ref. 28, p. 26. Return to text.
- Knight, D., Brilliant scientists dare to dream, New Scientist, 13 August 2005, pp. 52–53. Return to text.
- Muller, R., Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines, Norton, New York, p. 251, 2008. Return to text.
- Campbell, P., Complacency about misconduct, Nature 427:1, 2004 | doi:10.1038/427001a. Return to text.
- Klinghoffer, D., Performance reviews support David Coppedge’s claim that NASA punished him for advocating intelligent design, evolutionnews.org, 22 March 2012. Return to text.
- Campbell, P., Reflections on scientific fraud, Nature 419:417, 2002 | doi:10.1038/419417a. Return to text.
- Principe, L., Science and Religion, The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA, p. 47, 2006. Return to text.
- Moonesinghe, R., Khoury, M.J. and Janssens, A., Most published research findings are false—but a little replication goes a long way, PLoS Medicine 4(2):218–221, 2007; Abrahamson, C., A Fine Mess We’re In: Majority of Cancer Preclinical Research Findings Not Replicable, andidaabrahamson.wordpress.com/, 25 April 2012; Yong, E., Bad copy: in the wake of highprofile controversies, psychologists are facing up to problems with replication, Nature 485(7398):298–300, 2012; Ioannidis, J.P.A., Why most published research findings are false, PLoS Medicine 2(8):696–701, 2005. Return to text.
First of all, excellent article. But....I wouldn't expect to ever see the establishment giving way on the evo-cre argument. And the entry of ID into the argument is proof of this...
When ID first came out, the concept was to introduce the idea that an intelligence--not necessarily God--was behind our magnificent creation. But because that "intelligence" could have been God, the whole thing was thrown out. The people behind ID were indeed trying to "play a trick" on the evo's, if just to see they could possibly be scientifically honest with themselves. But the evo's couldn't be honest, because of their atheistic agenda. And that's where the problem is. (I obviously agree with the premise of ID that God did indeed design creation, which was of course the main
argument of ID).
I have found in talking with evo's, that I can't use logical, scientifically based arguments. Generally, these arguments don't work because their problem is not logically based. It's spiritually based--they're blinded. Spiritual blindness is something I don't completely understand. What I do understand is that instead of using logic and science, I have to go to the heart of problem--sin and why they hate God. It's curious, that non-believers--as mentioned in the article--can see the problems of 'consensus science' in areas that are amoral, but can't see it with the evo-cre debate. That fact is proof of their blindness. This is similar to discussing heart disease and abortion with a non-Xtian physician. You'll probably get an honest opinion about the heart disease; you won't get one about abortion because of the moral problem with it and the physician's spiritual godlessness and blindness....
Well I gave this article to my science friend who, upon reading some/all (?) of it, declared - well no-one can really form a clear opinion about what that article says, until we start with a clear definition of "consensus science".
Personally, I think your article shows plainly what consensus science is - where all (or majority) scientists agree to accept a particular verdict about something, and permit no alternative view to what they accept.
Could you please correct me if wrong - and plainly define consensus science, so I can help my scientist friend get a grip on your fantastic article?
(Again personally, I think he is pretty confronted by it....)
Your definition is a good one. It seems to me too that your friend may be confronted by the article because his response is one of the typical avoidance tactics such people use. They will latch onto a side issue to avoid talking about the main point.
Thanks - a very revealing article, and embarrassing, to say the least. I just have to ask - HOW CAN SCIENTISTS DO SUCH THINGS? Surely their own self respect would prevent them from ganging up against evidence from reality?
I'm printing this article (as so many) to pass on to a scientist friend of mine.....
Thanks CMI for your wonderful work in bringing us clear defensible truth about our world, AND about our great God.
"highly respected scientists, such as Steven Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan,"
Highly respected? Excuse me?
I have a question. If god and creation became the scientific consensus, would that not just be the same problem? Even now you refuse to consider the possibility that god and creation are wrong. Would not having god as a consensus simply switch one unfalsifiable claim for another?
What we are seeing is a censorship of alternative ideas, which is totally contrary to the idea of free and open inquiry. From a methological perspective, the proper way to do it is to have multiple working hypotheses and consider how the evidence is interpreted from each perspective.
As I have a zeal to serve The Living God, it is easy to see why ungodly professional as well as common citizens develop these close-minded ideals.
As creationism is pro-Living God,
evolution is anti-God.
They do the same thing in Geology and Astronomy.
But back to my opening statement, serving The Living God and the close study of His Word, this is what men do and will always, thus making it imperative that we reach as many as possible before Christ returns. We must be as adamant as they in stressing our faith, with the comforting reality that we have The Holy Spirit to work in the minds of men, something the ungodly cannot access. We must pray without ceasing that many of these scientists bent on denying The Living God will find Him and learn to Love Him. Some already have.
Logical fallacies are a tool of deception, used by those who are more interested in controlling others than in seeking and promoting truth.
It is vital that we become familiar with the various types of logical fallacies, such as "appeal to authority", as described in this article, so that we can recognize them when we encounter them. [Web link removed as per feedback rules.]
Excellent article. A similar consensus has been developing with regard to Anthropogenic Global Warming. Increasingly those who challenge this debatable theory are being bullied, shouted down and ridiculed. Political pressure groups and parties have been quick to use the statistical data to further their own propaganda. The truth is always out there but gets trampled underfoot by those with ulterior motives. The result is bad science and a misled public.
Anyone interested in publicly supporting God as the Creator should read this article. The premise of this article is absolutely true. Repeatedly, in discussions with evolutionists when they run out of ammunition to defend their assumptions, they resort to this defense of their scientifically indefensible assertions.
A very common retreat, they oftentimes lump "all Christians" in with their consensus defense and question those who would dare even question their own people, namely the defender of Creationist ideas. (Unfortunately, often too true when Christians themselves do not question the dogma of evolution with real scientific facts and unquestionably accept deceptions as truth.)
I think Professor Barrio's statements create a nice summary of the issue when he states that consensus is often used "a justification for shutting down ideas not associated with their beliefs." The "their" in that sentence aptly applies to many evolutionists.
Personally, I think consensus is the refuge of cowards unwilling or incapable of answering the hard questions and obvious gaps in the evolutionist debate. I encourage anyone interested in defending their belief in both real science and God as Creator to take a careful look at this and the subsequent articles. Thank you for defining a most common refuge for the dogmatically inspired evolutionist.