The Fallacy of “Settled Science.”

24 May

May 24, 2018

Please forgive this digression. There has been a lot of talk in the news about various topics, and the terms “scientific consensus,” “scientists agree,” and most egregiously, “settled science” have been bandied about as if they mean something.

Do not take this as my opinion on any topic. Do not read into this and think you know my opinion on global warming or genetically modified food or any topic you think I may or may not be referring to. I am not referring to any of them.

I am sick of the phrases “scientists agree” and “scientific consensus.” Those are nonsense. Science is not decided by committee.  

Scientists once agreed the sun revolved around the Earth.
Scientific consensus said that there were canals on Mars.
Scientists agreed that it was impossible to travel faster than light.
Scientific consensus said that there was nothing smaller than an atom.

Science grows and evolves as our knowledge grows and new discoveries are made. That’s why a new ligament in the human body was recently discovered. (1) That’s why the discovery of an Earth-like planet could lead to finding extraterrestrial life. (2) That’s why not all extinct species may remain extinct. (3)

Scientific agreement and consensus are not necessarily facts. They are theories and ideas and like any other theories or ideas can be disproven by later experimentation and observation.

“Settled science” is the most unscientific phrase of all. It closes the mind. It ends inquiry. It denies exploration. It is the exact opposite of what science is about. Science is NEVER settled.

 

(1) http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/11/06/your-knee-bones-connected-to-your-what-scientists-discover-new-body-part/

(2) https://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star

(3) http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/could-we-see-return-ancient-extinct-species-001400

 

One last point. If you believe in the Flat Earth Theory, don’t think this helps your cause. There’s science and then there’s bad science. The Flat Earth Theory is based on poor observation, disregard of contradictory facts, and blind adherence to dogma.

 

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6 Responses to “The Fallacy of “Settled Science.””

  1. T E Stazyk May 24, 2018 at 5:14 pm #

    That settles it!

    I concur–scientists thought fat was bad, eggs were bad, etc., etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mac of BIOnighT May 24, 2018 at 8:22 pm #

    Man, I really love you. And you know what scares me VERY badly? The fact that science is becoming the new religion of fanatics. Try posting what you just wrote as a reply to anyone on facebook that says “I believe in science!” “I have FAITH in science” “Science is THE truth, anything else is superstitious crap” “Science says THIS!, so it is THE truth!” and by the third exchange of posts you will see them insult you personally and ridicule you, because they know THE truth. The truth being what simple humans who have been contradicting themselves every two weeks for millenia say. Listening to what science has to say doesn’t bother me, I listen to any and every opinion, but the thousands (millions?) of people who are becoming worse than religious extremists whose god is science worry me, very, very much. Too bad I seem to be the only one who has noticed this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bmj2k May 25, 2018 at 10:56 am #

      I would say of myself that I believe not as much in science as I do in the scientific method. Observe, test, evaluate, reevaluate not just the results but your hypothesis and yes, your beliefs.

      Like

    • T E Stazyk May 25, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

      You’re right and it’s even a bigger concern when sometimes “science” is whatever the funder of the research wants it to be.

      Like

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