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Tips for Denying Scientific Consensus

  1. Jan 3, 2014 #1
    This is pretty good! Can anyone add to the list?
    http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/12/the_five_elements_of_denialism.html

     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2014 #2

    Student100

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  4. Jan 3, 2014 #3
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  5. Jan 4, 2014 #4
    I think the best way to do that is to buy off REAL scientists like big oil and big tobacco do. Much more efficient, as it stops a complete consensus from forming in the first place and gives doubters plenty of ammunition.

    Hm, indeed, the prospect of being bought off by a huge corporation kind of sounds nice. Maybe I should get a phd after all.
     
  6. Jan 4, 2014 #5

    SteamKing

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    Consensus is a really bad way to do science. Consensus has a way of shutting down all inquiry, regardless of legitimacy of the questions posed.

    At one time or another, the consensus was that the earth was flat, the stars were fixed in the heavens, fire was caused by the release of a mysterious fluid called phlogiston, and there were only four elements (air, earth, fire, and water).
     
  7. Jan 4, 2014 #6
    But none of those were a scientific consensus
     
  8. Jan 4, 2014 #7

    Borg

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    Are you sure that you want to give them more tools?
    6. Why cherry-pick when you can mis-quote scientific experts and data as often as possible?
    After all, once it's on the internet and becomes repeated enough, it will be up to the scientific community to deal with it. You will be seen as presenting 'facts' that everyone knows are true and the scientists will be seen as being the true deniers. Plus, the time that they spend on their denials is less time they can spend on actual science.

    7. Create fake controversies and push schools to teach your non-scientific viewpoint as an alternative explaination.
    Emphasize to the school boards that you only want children to be able to think for themselves. At the same time, you can have others petition to have the 'controversial' portions of the scientific evidence not taught until they've been proven (can you say hypocrisy?). If your controversy becomes a well known fake, rebrand it so that it doesn't sound like the same thing and start over. Keep doing this until you succeed in slipping it past them or until the scientific evidence being taught has been watered down to worthlessness. Once you have your foot in the door, work on expanding the non-scientific part of the curriculum so that it's far beyond anything originally described.
     
  9. Jan 4, 2014 #8

    DennisN

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    Thanks! Very interesting to read. I am interested in these kinds of things - not denial, of course, but the process of denial.
     
  10. Jan 4, 2014 #9
    I guess they didn't add "Tip #6 Don't make a mountain out of a molehill" in fear of looking like a bunch hypocrites...

    Tip#1 leads me to believe whoever wrote it suffers from social paranoia. EEEVERYbody is out there get us 24 bloody 7
     
  11. Jan 4, 2014 #10

    SteamKing

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    That is true, but the consensus nevertheless existed, and did so for many years.

    The development of scientific inquiry itself was hampered by the consensus which existed concerning the explication of nature in Aristotle's writings. Once the Church embraced Aristotle, this was a powerful disincentive to anyone who wished to go counter to the prevailing opinions of the day. Consensus has a nasty habit of turning into dogma, and the Church liked to enforce its dogma through things like inquisitions. Copernicus chose not to publish his works until after his death, and Galileo's struggles with the pope do not need recounting. While we may not burn heretics at the stake anymore, seeking consensus is no less pernicious to inquiry now than it was half a millennium in the past.

    It is ironic than we admonish people to "keep an open mind", except on such and such a topic, where consensus is established. If we must rely on consensus, then that suggests that we are not entirely certain that scientific inquiry is the best method we have found to investigate nature.
     
  12. Jan 4, 2014 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Scientific consensus != public consensus

    I don't see them as mutually exclusive. I can't do every experiment myself, so I have to have good faith in the scientific community that specializes in the things I don't have time to study. I rely on their consensus, assuming it was reached through scientific inquiry.
     
  13. Jan 4, 2014 #12
    We must rely on our own two eyes to see what's happening. Next thing you know, someone on a plane screams "we're all gonna die, we're all gonna die, because I'm the only non-terrorist aboard"
     
  14. Jan 4, 2014 #13

    Pythagorean

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    Perhaps you're missing the point of the article...
     
  15. Jan 4, 2014 #14
    The article was aimed at comic sarcasm.
    :smile:
     
  16. Jan 4, 2014 #15

    DennisN

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    I think Michael Shermer puts it well in his "Baloney Detection Kit":

    "Baloney Detection Kit #2: Does the source make similar claims?" (link)
    "The point here is, you want to have a mind open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains falls out." (link)

    "...and what you are going to find is that there is a range, some are just obviously bogus [...]" (my bolding) (link)

    I recommend watching the entire clip, by the way.
     
  17. Jan 4, 2014 #16

    OmCheeto

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    8. Stosselisms: Meaningless catchphrases meant to convey that the speaker is an imbecile.
    Examples:
    1. Give me a break
    2. Are you kidding me?
    3. Get real​


    See also: Reaganism: There you go again.....
     
  18. Jan 4, 2014 #17

    Evo

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    Agree.
     
  19. Jan 4, 2014 #18

    Pythagorean

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    What troubles me about this statement is that the subject of the article is not about doing science at all. It's about how non-scientific people collect and spread information. In particular, members of the public who deny the consensus of people who "do science". So it's not saying "do science by consensus" it's saying "here's the tactics used by people who are not doing science, but gathering opinions selectively from the scientific community". Often they misinterpret articles or just use plain bad articles (unaccepted journals) but mostly they don't do any of that. They just quote some non peer-reviewed media authored by someone with MD or PhD. after their name.

    All the article is saying... is that within the domain of taking somebody's word for it, maybe you should listen to the majority of the people doing science on it, rather than one crackpot scientist who gives non peer-reviewed presentations or has a web page.

    But this is exactly opposite of my experience. In neuroscience, at least, we're always being told about our text books "this is the current consensus... half of it will be wrong by the time you have your PhD".

    When you write scientific articles, you include the scientific consensus in your introduction as well as any prominent opposing views, and then if you have a new view, you present it and your evidence. It's important that you acknowledge any conflicts with consensus in your introduction otherwise the peer-reviewers will treat you like you haven't read the literature, so consensus is important in science (physicsforums has a rule regarding that... mainstream only)

    ...but nobody is saying consensus is how we "do science".
     
  20. Jan 4, 2014 #19

    Evo

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    Unfortunately though, recently we've seen the same tactics used by some scientists to further their personal agendas. It has caused a lot of people to question "valid" science.

    I'll just cite one very damaging case.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/
     
  21. Jan 4, 2014 #20

    Pythagorean

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    But isn't that the point? That paper was never part of scientific consensus. But anti-vaxers will cite it and reject the scientific consensus. That's the problem!
     
  22. Jan 4, 2014 #21

    Evo

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    But there are recent cases of fraud of "scientific consensus", where the consensus is correct but a large amount of all of the fraud tactics he mentions were used by the scientists involved and as a result many people now refuse to believe the real facts. One of the scientists involved in the fraud said in an interview that they feel they were justified in defrauding fellow scientists and the public because they felt the cause was important. Unfortunately, it backfired as far as gaining public support after the fraud was exposed. You just cannot do these things in science and expect not to cause public distrust. Good intentions gone very wrong. It was a bit of a boondoggle.
     
  23. Jan 4, 2014 #22
    So what are you suggesting, scientific dissension? I agree scrutiny is required and theories always have to be retested. But that's the scientific part in scientific consensus. Consensus is a bad way to do science but science is a great way to reach consensus.
     
  24. Jan 4, 2014 #23
    How about when confronted with scientific evidence, you respond with quotes by PhD's that run contrary to the evidence? What field do they have a PhD in? It doesn't matter.
     
  25. Jan 5, 2014 #24
    Yes yes, a PhD in psychology could tell me how to fix my car, because well.. he's got a PhD..must be smart.
     
  26. Jan 10, 2014 #25

    BobG

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    Tom Magliozzi has a PhD and he can tell you how to fix your car, because well .... he's funny and has his own radio show.

    So, yes, you can graduate from MIT (as both brothers did) and wind up being an auto mechanic.

    Car Talk's auto biography page.
     
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