Is there any issue in which you disagree with the scientific consensus?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Faure, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Faure Registered Senior Member

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    If so, which issues are those, and on what general basis do you disagree with the consensus?

    I can't think of a single instance in my own experience.
     
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    What does "consensus" mean?
    What does "scientific consensus" mean?

    Does it mean everyone? Only the majority? Only an select few "elite" members? Who decides what's "consensus"? Are all members of the community actually asked for their opinions and get to vote on the issue? Who tallies the votes?

    If one asks a bunch of idiots for their opinion on some scientific matter and they all agree with the data/conclusion, is that then considered a "consensus"?

    You're probably going to use the term "peer review" in your reply, but I caution you to be careful and define what "peer review" really means.

    Baron Max
     
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  5. Communist Hamster Cricetulus griseus leninus Valued Senior Member

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    This is all going to be about wide, wide issues, and science is about small things, so I can't see this thread going anywhere good.
     
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  7. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Oh, I don't know that. He did ask for "any issue" in science, so it's up to the responders as to how wide or how narrow the scope of the discussion.

    But all-on-all, I have to agree that topics like this veer off into the unknowns of forum space and time!

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    Baron Max
     
  8. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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    Gravity.
     
  9. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    You disagree with the scientists on gravity? Explain.

    Baron Max
     
  10. Blindman Valued Senior Member

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    :Is plastic safe.. oh my i mean for sex not space travel... :roflmao: condoms break and they continue to tell me that they provide safe sex... Stupid virgin scientists...
     
  11. Faure Registered Senior Member

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    It just means the consensus among experts in the field. It doesn't mean everyone, but it doesn't mean the mere slightest majority either. Consensus is a vague term, but of course that does not imply that we cannot talk sensibly about it.

    So, for example, there is a scientific consensus that continental drift occurs, even if there might be one or two people with geology PhDs who disagree (I have no idea if there actually are).

    Peer review, as its ordinarily understood, is a process designed to figure out whether a given article meets standards of scholarly rigor in a discipline. It does not have a whole lot to do with this topic.

    As Baron pointed out, there is no reason why it has to be a wide issue.
     
  12. tfrxsis Registered Member

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    If I understand you correctly:
    • On the interpretation of QM -- there is no consensus with which to disagree. This, entirely reasonably, despite that the (unsophisticated) view I have is championed by some experts in the field.
    • A disagreement on AGW would be a disagreement with a held consensus.
    However, what about when the evidence collected by scientists point to a theory whose predictive utility is not believed despite consensus acknowledgment that it best fits the evidence? With which do I disagree in order to disagree with the consensus? Your response indicates that it is with the experts, not the data, that you are interested in. Is this the case?

    What about where the consensus view of a particular field disagrees with the outside technical consensus view? That is, people in the field are for some hypotheses despite most scientists outside of the field being firmly against them. With which consensus do I disagree?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  13. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    Since when did consensus have anything to do with science? I wasn't aware it was a democratic process.


    Oh, that's right... since Al Gore's slide-show.... sorry.

    ~Raithere
     
  14. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Peer review and vague and floppy consensus processes certainly play a role in the scientific community. You can have nice little research results but if the mainstream thinks you are off, you stay off in the fringe. Consensus is way too strong a term for this, however. Ever majority rule would be misleading. Some votes are much stronger than others.
     
  15. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    Consensus may exist in the scientific community regarding certain subjects but this has no bearing what-so-ever on the veracity of the belief.

    Just ask Darwin, Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Galileo.

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    ~Raithere
     
  16. Faure Registered Senior Member

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    since... forever. :shrug: I seriously don't know what to say. I thought it was well known to every practitioner of science, or everyone with a serious interest in the history or philosophy of science, that consensus plays a role in hypothesis confirmation.

    I'm inclined to just let the conversation drop though if such a basic fact about science is to be contested (a debate of that scope is likely to be pointless). Let me just say: Compare the way science is actually practiced with the way science is practiced according to 7th grade "scientific method" posters, and you will be in for a surprise!

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  17. tfrxsis Registered Member

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    Usually, older theories produce right answers that are indistinguishable from right answers that better theories produce. If this sounds confusing, consider that it's the wrong answers that older theories produce that don't match up with better theories. For example, the perihelion of mercury was not predicted by Newton, but was by Einstien.

    In terms of the beliefs of the consensus in anticipating the unknown, in so far as what the consensus believes explains what the consensus knows, breaking consensus only makes you more right* -- it doesn't make consensus more wrong. It instead makes consensus more qualified. For example, with Newtonian Mechanics again, we can exactly model how and why the theories break down and make incorrect predictions by analyzing it from General Relativity. It still makes perfectly good predictions, so long as they are within the bounds of accuracy that we can derive from the more inclusive framework. Likewise, with General Relativity, we can analyze exactly how it doesn't work in the scope and perspective of Quantum Mechanics.

    (* provisio, of course, that you've actually got a good reason to break consensus.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  18. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    Faure, tfrxsis,

    My reply to both of your posts is the same. Notwithstanding the politics of the scientific community, the fact remains that a consensus of scientists has no bearing on the veracity of the hypothesis or theory. This is only demonstrated by a consensus of evidence, not of opinion. One does not prove string theory by taking a vote.

    ~Raithere
     
  19. tfrxsis Registered Member

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    Considering that this was what I quoted before, the failure must be mine in explaining what I meant.

    In order to judge a hypothesis predictive, it has to first predict. To the extent that predictive hypotheses predict, a consensus can form that predictive hypotheses predict. If the consensus of scientists had no bearing on the veracity of a hypothesis, either there would be no means to decide the veracity of scientific hypotheses or that consensus is systematically wrong in some regard (which is presumably what Faure was interested in). This doesn't mean that consensus is always right, but rather that the obstacles in the consensus describing reality and an individual scientist describing reality are similar.

    Given that you did not disagree with any one thing previously, I expect that further disagreement indicates that either:
    • You disagree with the extent that consensus can be right, on the basis that logical standards are appropriate in empiricism. If an expert disagreed with you on a question that you had not studied in depth, would you completely disregard the expert's opinion, in accordance with the fallacy of argument from authority, despite Aumann's agreement theorem?
    • Or that you believe understanding through empiricism is impossible (which, I should note, is compatible with the claim that empiricism can work within certain bounds).
     
  20. Faure Registered Senior Member

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    Rathere: You are confusing the issue. I am not claiming that a consensus makes it the case that some theory is true, merely that a consensus tends to track the truth, and if you both disagree with a scientific consensus and are not an expert practitioner of that science, it is overwhelmingly likely that you are wrong (despite whatever illusion of expertise you might have gained by reading popularizations of the issue at hand).
     
  21. tfrxsis Registered Member

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    If you could respond to #9, I'd like to take this thread in a more constructive direction.
     
  22. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Big Bang Theory: I dislike it on two grounds: it is philosophically inelegant; it has required an inordinate amount of contingent modification to an extent that smacks of special pleading rather than rational adaptation.

    Abiogenesis: I lean heavily to a panspermia viewpoint. Until a mechanism is specified for life originating in few hundred million years in a terrestrial environment I prefer the odds offered by chemical reactions in hot GMCs.

    Life on Mars: I am largely persuaded that the Viking landers both detected life. Two of the three experimental packages (primarily The Labelled Release Experiment) gave results that prior to the mission had been agreed would indicate life. The primary argument for rejecting the results was the absence of detectable organic matter using the Mass Spectrometer. I am persuaded that this same instrument was unable to detect organic matter in sparsely populated Antarctic soil.

    Meteorite Impact: I do not know that it is consensus, but following the success of the KT boundary impact in apparently explaining the end of the dinosaurs, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon and seeking to link each mass extinction, or population hiccup to some kind of impact. (Let's here it for the flood basalts and methane hydrates.)
     
  23. tfrxsis Registered Member

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    What is one example of the contingent modification that is the cause of your skepticism, and do you have an preferred alternative? Could you elaborate on how BB is philosophically inelegant?
     

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