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The Role Of Consensus In Science


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#1 Percy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 03:33 AM

In the What's being rejected by YECs..., ...Science or Interpretations? thread we began an off-topic discussion about the role of consensus in science. Some doubt was expressed whether the concept of consensus has any legitimacy within science. For example, at one point it was characterized as a debate tactic that was, in effect, a stalling device.

But my position is that consensus building within science is essential for establishing which theories are most accurately representative of the reality that it is science's goal to study and ultimately understand. The essential idea is not that a theory is accepted because it has a consensus, but that a theory has a consensus because of the quality of the evidence and insights that have been offered in its support.

I don't think I've ever proposed a topic here before, not sure if they require approval or not. In the other thread Adam seemed satisfied, though I'm not sure for what reasons, while Jason and CTD seemed to think there was still something to discuss.

--Percy

#2 chipwag64

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 05:24 AM

Percy,

I know next to nothing about 98% of what I read in the Creation/Evolution debate, so I don't post at all, having nothing to offer.

But what I do know is that the same "evidence" viewed by different scientists can be interpreted differently, vastly different as influenced by their views on a Creator or evolution.
So, to me, if there is a consensus majority of evolutionists who interpret "evidence"using only natural means as a source, well...

Majority opinion is not always truthful, correct opinion, or fact.
Don't forget that historical science, looking into the past, cannot speak to us, just like a crime scene without witnesses.

How many wrongful imprisonments have been overturned due to additional evidence that aided in clearing the guilty, that was not included at the judgment of the individual?

Science is always overturning previous "facts" so-called due to new information or knowledge, yet the word of God stands unchanged for thousands of years.

#3 Percy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 06:29 AM

Hi Chipwag,

I agree with much that you say, though I would express some of it a bit differently. Science is tentative, always ready to change in light of new evidence or improved insights. God's word is timeless and eternal. The creation/evolution debate exists because of conflicts between God'es eternal word and some theories of science.

Where we strongly differ may be in the reason that a consensus may be wrong. I don't think dishonesty plays any significant role in the long term. For example, Piltdown man was a forgery, but long before this was proven it was already being ignored as inexplicably anomalous and far too inconsistent with much other evidence of human ancestry. It was never part of the scientific consensus.

A more recent example is the Korean clone researcher who was discovered to have faked his data. That he had forged his data was only revealed when other researchers were unable to replicate his results, and his research results never became part of the scientific consensus.

The problem with dishonest research in any form is that the findings cannot enter the scientific consensus until other scientists are able to convince themselves of the finding thought replication in their own labs or in their own fieldwork or whatever form the research in a particular field takes. If the findings were made up or were based on fudged or faked data then replication won't be possible, and the false finding will never join the scientific consensus.

Now I won't be coy and pretend that I don't know that creationists believe that large parts of the scientific consensus are actually just dishonesty on a large scale, that large groups of scientists know the theories and foundational underpinnings of their field are false but continue to promote them anyway because it is essential to their livelihood. I see this view as just "science as conspiracy," and I've never found debating conspiracy theories fruitful.

The reality is that scientists are people just like you and me. They are no more or less inclined toward dishonesty than anyone else.

--Percy

#4 CTD

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 06:36 AM

Before any consensus can even begin to have meaning, it must be based upon actual independent evaluation - not brainwashing, coercion, and such.

#5 Percy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 01:00 PM

Before any consensus can even begin to have meaning, it must be based upon actual independent evaluation - not brainwashing, coercion, and such.

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I can tell you believe this deeply, but I'd prefer to discuss consensus from an evidence-based perspective. The goal of science is to discover what we can about reality. Any results a scientist finds while studying reality have to be confirmed by other scientists studying the same reality.

One famous example of a changing scientific consensus brought about by a collision of the original consensus with reality is continental drift, usually referred to today as plate tectonics. The consensus scientific view used to be that continents were permanent and immovable, and that similar flora/fauna and geology between the facing coasts of South America and Africa were due, respectively, to undersea land bridges that were traversed during periods when ocean levels were low, and to coincidence. The idea that continents might sail along (in effect) through very solid sea floor wasn't thought tenable.

Wegener was the first to begin introducing siginficant evidence challenging this consensus, but it was insufficient, perhaps because he could propose no mechanism. It was only with the later discovery of sea floor striping and the geological magnetic evidence of continental land masses that the evidence became sufficient to both be persuasive and to identify potential mechanisms that a change in consensus took place. And it turned out that continents weren't really sailing through sea floor after all.

This is the way science works. Evidence and improved insights must be offered in order to change prevailing consensus views.

--Percy

#6 jason777

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 02:09 PM

I can tell you believe this deeply, but I'd prefer to discuss consensus from an evidence-based perspective. The goal of science is to discover what we can about reality. Any results a scientist finds while studying reality have to be confirmed by other scientists studying the same reality.


Obviously you are'nt seeking an evidence based perspective,since you moved the topic from the science forums to miscellaneous.I think your tactic is to argue from the numbers and not the data.

Wegener was the first to begin introducing siginficant evidence challenging this consensus, but it was insufficient, perhaps because he could propose no mechanism. It was only with the later discovery of sea floor striping and the geological magnetic evidence of continental land masses that the evidence became sufficient to both be persuasive and to identify potential mechanisms that a change in consensus took place. And it turned out that continents weren't really sailing through sea floor after all.

This is the way science works. Evidence and improved insights must be offered in order to change prevailing consensus views.


They only began to listen to Wegener because his views were aligned with the "the consensus" not that it was'nt suggested before,but was ingorned because it supported a different model.

A creation scientist by the name of Antonio Snider-Pellegrini later published the concept in his book, La Création et ses mystères dévoilés (Creation and its Mysteries Unveiled), in 1858.[2] To form his theory, Snider drew from Genesis 1:9-10 where it is explained that God gathered the seas into one place, suggesting the possibility of one single landmass at that point in time. He also observed the close fit of the Eastern South American coast and the Western African coast. He concluded that the Flood of Noah had caused subsequent horizontal movement of the supercontinent causing it to break, thus forming the tectonic plates. Snider's idea was overlooked, possibly due to the fact that Darwin's book had been published in the same year. Snider wrote a book and even had it translated into French, but still, his theory went unnoticed until the early twentieth century. At that time, the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener wrote a book on the idea of one original supercontinent called Pangaea.

But still, for about 50 years this thought was neglected due to a small group of seismologists who professed that the strength of the mantle rock was too great to allow continents to drift in the way Wegener had calculated. They estimated the rocks strength by watching the behavior of seismic waves as they went through the earth. But they were calculating the strength of the rocks at the time of their testing, not from back when the earth was in it's pre-flood state. During those 50 years, scientists who believed in the theory of one original supercontinent were considered ignorant people who didn't look at the facts. But today, that view has reversed.


http://creationwiki....ntinental_drift - 41k -

#7 CTD

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 07:11 PM

I can tell you believe this deeply, but I'd prefer to discuss consensus from an evidence-based perspective.  The goal of science is to discover what we can about reality.  Any results a scientist finds while studying reality have to be confirmed by other scientists studying the same reality.

One famous example of a changing scientific consensus brought about by a collision of  the original consensus with reality is continental drift, usually referred to today as plate tectonics.  The consensus scientific view used to be that continents were permanent and immovable, and that similar flora/fauna and geology between the facing coasts of South America and Africa were due, respectively, to undersea land bridges that were traversed during periods when ocean levels were low, and to coincidence.  The idea that continents might sail along (in effect) through very solid sea floor wasn't thought tenable.

Wegener was the first to begin introducing siginficant evidence challenging this consensus, but it was insufficient, perhaps because he could propose no mechanism.  It was only with the later discovery of sea floor striping and the geological magnetic evidence of continental land masses that the evidence became sufficient to both be persuasive and to identify potential mechanisms that a change in consensus took place.  And it turned out that continents weren't really sailing through sea floor after all.

This is the way science works.  Evidence and improved insights must be offered in order to change prevailing consensus views.

--Percy

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If one looks into the history of evolutionism, it isn't difficult to discover how their "consensus" was achieved. They did not convince men of science who supported "young earth" history at all. If you maintain they did, name 3 such men in the 1800's who were converted to evolutionism.

The X Club managed a political takeover of the British scientific establishments. They then coordinated their efforts with evolutionists in other countries like Ernst Häckel.

http://www.questiond.../BATHYBIUS.html is another good link, giving a few examples which demonstrate the methods employed once the evolutionists felt they had the upper hand. Things haven't changed much at all. Evidence is suppressed, propaganda is paramount, careers are threatened, mud-slinging is commonplace.

The movement came to be financially backed by many robber barons who loved Spencer's doctrines & the whole idea that whatever one can get away with is "good". This stuff isn't kept secret; one only has to look.

In short, replacement of scientists - not conversion - was what took place. Evolutionism was never built upon evidence, and neither will many of its supporters be convinced by evidence.

Colonel Klink was able to establish "consensus" about a good many issues at Stalag 13. Does this mean he was right? Does it mean his ideas had merit?

Your own example is a joke. The change you speak of wasn't a matter of evidence so much as a new generation. The old generation failed to sufficiently indoctrinate their replacements. Men who think for themselves tend to consider things on their own merit. And catastrophic plate tectonics is rejected on what basis? Conflict with evodogma. Who couldn't guess...

Time after time we see reasoning based upon implications. "Vestigial" organs were upheld entirely on the basis of implication, and there are still some who support and teach this nonsense. Same exact thing with "junk DNA". There was never any evidence-based reason to believe in either of these; both are textbook arguments from ignorance.

For good cases (and stark contrast), one should consider fields of science far removed from evolutionism. Look into fields like aerodynamic theory, and try to find cases where truth was resisted for 50 years or more. You won't find much of this behaviour. If hypothesis a is inferior to hypothesis b, and neither one offers indirect support for or against God, nobody much bothers clinging to hypothesis a, do they? About the only corrupting interference comes from corporate industrial concerns like patent issues & market share.

#8 Percy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 05:38 AM

Obviously you aren't seeking an evidence based perspective,since you moved the topic from the science forums to miscellaneous.  I think your tactic is to argue from the numbers and not the data.

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Actually, I wasn't quite sure where to put this. Is consensus a philosophy of science issue? If so, then the description of this forum includes philosophy. On the other hand, if this forum is for non-science issues, then perhaps a moderator could move it to the Creation vs Evolution forum?

They only began to listen to Wegener because his views were aligned with the "the consensus" not that it wasn't suggested before, but was ignored because it supported a different model.

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Wegener died on a research expedition on a glacier in Greenland without ever seeing his views adopted by the consensus. The change in consensus required additional evidence, which as I've already explained came later in the form of evidence of sea floor striping and the geological magnetic evidence of continental land masses (paleomagnetism), and there was other evidence, too. Continental drift and plate tectonics are an example of consensus change in light of new evidence and improved insights.

--Percy

#9 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:26 AM

Actually, I wasn't quite sure where to put this.  Is consensus a philosophy of science issue?  If so, then the description of this forum includes philosophy.  On the other hand, if this forum is for non-science issues, then perhaps a moderator could move it to the Creation vs Evolution forum?

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I don't think, for this issue, it matters. It can stay right where it is.

#10 Percy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:39 AM

If one looks into the history of evolutionism, it isn't difficult to discover how their "consensus" was achieved. They did not convince men of science who supported "young earth" history at all. If you maintain they did, name 3 such men in the 1800's who were converted to evolutionism.

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Satisfying your request would require quite a bit of research to find information that either doesn't exist or would be very difficult to find. You're in essence asking me to list people who changed from a young earth perspective to an old earth perspective, which is the field of geology, because of the theory of evolution presented by Darwin, which is the field of biology.

As an example of the difficulty, the Wikipedia article on Thomas Huxley, the founder of the X Club, doesn't mention whether he always accepted an ancient earth or changed at some point from a young earth perspective. If I did find something somewhere that said he underwent such a conversion, would it tell me whether it happened before or after 1859, when Darwin published Origin of Species? Or whether the conversion was due to the influence of the theory of evolution or something else?

What we do know is that prior to the turn of the 19th century the consensus of scientific opinion was probably for a young earth, and that by the turn of the 20th century the consensus had changed to favor an ancient earth, though no one knew how incredibly ancient at the time. How much of an influence the theory of evolution had on this change would be difficult to say, though it most certainly would have been a factor.

I think your concern is the way the consensus was built, that it was a result of intimidation and manipulation rather than of finding the evidence and insights persuasive, and that it lives on today for the same reasons. What you describe in your post is a actually just a conspiracy theory spanning 150 years. What I think is actually the case is that the history of both science and religion is just one of people being like people are everywhere. Neither has a monopoly on integrity or dishonesty.

You do say one thing I sort of agree with:

The old generation failed to sufficiently indoctrinate their replacements. Men who think for themselves tend to consider things on their own merit.

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While I can't agree with the characterization of indoctrination, it can be the case in science that a change in consensus takes place because the old guard dies off rather than becomes convinced. Those with much invested in a prevailing view that is being challenged are unlikely to give it up easily. There are many examples of this.

But this wasn't the case with continental drift and plate tectonics. The evidence wasn't of the sort that could be explained away with theories of undiscovered undersea land bridges and so forth.

Relativity theory is an example of a slowly changing consensus. Even after Sir Author Eddington journeyed in 1919 to an island off the coast of Africa to observe an eclipse and returned with evidence that light was indeed subject to gravity in the precise way described by Einstein's equations, it was still a slow process. Through the 1920's there were more expeditions to observe eclipses, the evidence mounted, more scientists were persuaded, and by the 1930's funding for such expeditions dried up as relativity joined the consensus view.

And catastrophic plate tectonics is rejected on what basis? Conflict with evodogma. Who couldn't guess...

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While catastrophic plate tectonics is not part of the scientific consensus, it wouldn't be accurate to characterize it as rejected because if has never been presented to the appropriate scientific community. John Baumgardner is the foremost proponent of this theory, and while he has published papers in the technical literature, to my knowledge he has never submitted a paper advocating catastrophic plate tectonics. In order for this theory to have a chance of joining the consensus view, it has to be presented to the scientific community for consideration, analysis, replication, etc.

--Percy

#11 CTD

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:59 AM

Satisfying your request would require quite a bit of research to find information that  either doesn't exist or would be very difficult to find.  You're in essence asking me to list people who changed from a young earth perspective to an old earth perspective, which is the field of geology, because of the theory of evolution presented by Darwin, which is the field of biology.

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I asked what I asked. I have asked this question several times, and all I'm looking for is evidence-based conversion. I can tell you the name of one individual who switched, but it was not due to evidence - he was enthralled by the beauty of Social Darwinism.

Geology or biology? When rocks are classified according to fossil content, some might conclude there's some overlap going on. The real world doesn't come conveniently compartmentalized. Who gets jurisdiction over the fossils anyway? They're stone, but they are also said to be remains of living things. It's all so unfair!

Some say the earth is old based primarily on geology & backed up by biology. Others say it based primarily on biology and backed up by geology. Guess we can't criticize either without criticizing both, and to criticize two false ideas simultaneously is what? Rude?

But no... I wasn't talking about biology or geology. Only a crackpot conclusion. Does it really matter very much how one gets a wrong answer? Is wrongness really not wrong if you can dance back & forth between two invalid paths?

Do I have too much fun with the polywrong? Eh, probably sometimes.

As an example of the difficulty, the Wikipedia article on Thomas Huxley, the founder of the X Club, doesn't mention whether he always accepted an ancient earth or changed at some point from a young earth perspective.  If I did find something somewhere that said he underwent such a conversion, would it tell me whether it happened before or after 1859, when Darwin published Origin of Species?  Or whether the conversion was due to the influence of the theory of evolution or something else?


You moved, but you did not successfully dodge. Evolutionism didn't begin with Darwin's book. I won't insult the knowledge you surely possess beyond mentioning Lamarck & Erasmus Darwin for the benefit of noobs.

The problem of wiki not mentioning enough details? There are surely better sources in this world than wiki. But it gets even better. We know human nature. Wiki, as the new talkdeceptions mouthpiece, would surely mention such details if they could source them.

How do we know? Like I said, we know human nature. We know that today one can find plenty of evolutionists boasting how they were converted to "science". If such had existed in the 1800's, we all know the infant propaganda machine would've spread the word. The mature and functional (albeit incompetent) propaganda machine of today would dearly love to have actual names to associate with it's non-stop claim that evolutionism won out on the strength of evidence. IF EVER such names had been available, the would be universally known to this very day.

What we do know is that prior to the turn of the 19th century the consensus of scientific opinion was probably for a young earth, and that by the turn of the 20th century the consensus had changed to favor an ancient earth, though no one knew how incredibly ancient at the time.  How much of an influence the theory of evolution had on this change would be difficult to say, though it most certainly would have been a factor.

How many other factors come to mind? How many that are not subsets of the religion, artificially set apart?

I think your concern is the way the consensus was built, that it was a result of intimidation and manipulation rather than of finding the evidence and insights persuasive, and that it lives on today for the same reasons.  What you describe in your post is a actually just a conspiracy theory spanning 150 years.  What I think is actually the case is that the history of both science and religion is just one of people being like people are everywhere.  Neither has a monopoly on integrity or dishonesty.

Ah yes, I'm a conspiracy theorist. I believe Josef Stalin "conspired" to take over the Soviet Union.

The facts of the initial conspiracy haven't been kept secret. More than one evolutionist is proud of what they did. Once they took over, there's no need to keep it secret, and nobody bothers. Intimidation on the scale it's practiced is utterly incompatible with secret conspiracy. Who doesn't know the ridicule that awaits the scientists who present inconvenient facts? Who doesn't know they better be on tight terms with their employer before voicing common sense questions about circular reasoning and flawed logic used to support the false system? Who? Who? Who !!!

You do say one thing I sort of agree with:
While I can't agree with the characterization of indoctrination, it can be the case in science that a change in consensus takes place because the old guard dies off rather than becomes convinced.  Those with much invested in a prevailing view that is being challenged are unlikely to give it up easily.  There are many examples of this.

Should I thank you for saving us some time, or resent missing the laughter
I might've had on this one?

But this wasn't the case with continental drift and plate tectonics.  The evidence wasn't of the sort that could be explained away with theories of undiscovered undersea land bridges and so forth.

Too esoteric to merit my time. Those who know know, and those who care to find out can probably do so. At least I'm assuming they can.

Relativity theory is an example of a slowly changing consensus.  Even after Sir Author Eddington journeyed in 1919 to an island off the coast of Africa to observe an eclipse and returned with evidence that light was indeed subject to gravity in the precise way described by Einstein's equations, it was still a slow process.  Through the 1920's there were more expeditions to observe eclipses, the evidence mounted, more scientists were persuaded, and by the 1930's funding for such expeditions dried up as relativity joined the consensus view.

Not the best example. There is and was a lot of confusion between GR and SR. I've posted a fact or two about what went on. The orange dot at the bottom of this snip of a quote is a link, and the thread has links to my other threads.

Die antihistory, die!

This PDF has a copy of the ORIGINAL article in the American Journal of Science.
http://www.aip.org/h...F/michelson.pdf

Ain't no zero result. Didn't happen.

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Your own timetable doesn't involve all that much time, really. If Einstein's relativity is as complicated as we're led to believe, on hardly expects an overnight evaluation. The "Old Guard" in this case was hardly biased. They were working very hard seeking answers about the nature of light. Their only sticking point was that the answers had to be intelligible and match reality.

While catastrophic plate tectonics is not part of the scientific consensus, it wouldn't be accurate to characterize it as rejected because if has never been presented to the appropriate scientific community.

I'd be glad to hear it isn't rejected, if I could believe it.

I don't know if anyone's wasted their time preparing papers for the clown squad or not. It seems to present somewhat of a moral dilemma. If the man in charge even permits it to be reviewed, his job is in jeopardy. Not exactly doing this man a favour, putting him in such a jam, huh? Do the honest thing, or be blackballed? But if, out of charity to this individual, other means of publication are employed, there is no "official rejection"? Y'all sure know how to rig a game, don'cha?

John Baumgardner is the foremost proponent of this theory, and while he has published papers in the technical literature, to my knowledge he has never submitted a paper advocating catastrophic plate tectonics.  In order for this theory to have a chance of joining the consensus view, it has to be presented to the scientific community for consideration, analysis, replication, etc.

--Percy

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The question remains: can evolutionism even win a rigged game? I suggest equivocation on the term 'win', just in case.

See, the point of this thread is to gloat. I don't think there's much to gloat about at all. Certainly nothing to be proud of. The "consensus" is not one of people who evaluated things. The rarest creature in the world is an evolutionist who can accurately relate what creation scientists say about the flood. They reject something they know next to nothing about.

They really should be ashamed. A high school creationist with a few months of study is guaranteed to know more about flood models and implications than almost any of the PhD's out there who insist they're all bogus. For example, flood models absolutely do not claim the flood is responsible for all geology and/or all fossils. It's not at all hard to think for just a couple of seconds and realize that some rocks and fossils may have formed after the flood, and likewise some before. But it's beyond these jokers. To label such intellectually handicapped individuals as professional or expert scientists is simply to commit fraud. Such be men of ignorance - not men of learning.

Furthermore, even if the "consensus" had somehow been obtained legitimately, it cannot be honestly maintained. This is not something to boast about. This thread can only bring shame to evolutionism, or expose the shameless nature of specific advocates.

You may call me a "conspiracy theorist" all day. I'll point out that no policy can policy on this scale and be classified as secret. That which everyone knows is not secret. Mass intimidation and secrecy are simply incompatible. One can read about the seriously secret stage of the X Club conspiracy on wiki, fer cryin' out loud. Cat's pretty much outta that bag. What? Did it shed a little fur when it was in there? Cats usually do...

#12 Percy

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:02 AM

Hi CTD,

Concerning human nature, creationists are equally vulnerable to the less noble aspects of its influences. As we learn at every political election, even angels can be demonized. It's just a rhetorical technique, the "Are you still beating your wife?" types of ploys.

Let's say you're a member of a school board subcommittee at the state level given the mandate of defining the guidelines for the science curriculum for public schools. What criteria would you use for deciding what to include or exclude?

--Percy

#13 Adam Nagy

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:30 AM

Hey Percy,

What CTD is saying is interesting and pride does come before the fall. The idea of consensus is not in itself bad. I agree that you should seek agreement among people as to the truthfulness of things. I don't have a problem admitting that I have, after not only studying the material but seeing the amount of scholarly people that revolve around a group like AiG, that there must be something worth carefully considering there.

Now the problem is following the consensus for the consensus' sake. There is a name for this it's; a good old boys club. This attitude is starting to show and the foundation is cracking.

When evolutionists have been on this forum for any length of time and can't answer simple questions about the creationist's own perspective, it reveals something. It shows that these particular people are quite happy not understanding because... Hey, they're with the consensus... that's gotta count for something. :P

Percy, if you really feel there are issues worth fighting for, the foundational cracks are on your side, not ours at the moment. You see less and less people understand science and yet believe evolution. The fact that the arguments are so difficult to wrangle away from, who has the most people on their side to the actual theories and ideas, is a sign of where we are intellectually as a culture.

Don't get mad that I'm painting with a broad brush. The consensus issue is a broad brush issue so my objections must be of a general nature since the argument is of a general matter.

I would rather spend three days talking to an inquisitive person about what's going on right now, the science behind it, the philosophy of science and what different groups believe science can show us, then 15 minutes wrestling with someone over the perceived importance of the consensus and whether people should submit or not.

The very problem on this thread of following the consensus, as good intellectual procedure, is forgotten the moment history is our guide, because Darwin didn't follow the consensus of his time and he is virtually worshiped for his bold move.

I'm not nearly as bold. I simply want to revisit the historical case for the creation of the world because I believe it was indited and executed on trumped up charges and inflated evidence.

#14 Adam Nagy

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:40 AM

You know I took this little tongue-in-cheek comment as a compliment for the nature of the discussions taking place here:

http://www.evolution...indpost&p=34797

I don't know what the spirit of the short response was but it revealed a lot to me. Couple that with my own experience at an atheistic site that claimed to focus on science and my perception grows stronger. People there were not willing to discuss science, sure they would post quotes from long papers and explain how they won because they had an answer to my objection.

The moment I would seek to explore the implications of what was being said and look at things from multiple perspectives for clarity the mood would quickly shift. What would happen? First, I would get slandered. Second, the consensus card would come out. Third, I would be accused of not being educated enough to say the things I was saying or to understand the things they had shown me.

If I see this kind of stuff happening here. I stop it. I have no problem with sarcasm and poking people a little but if that consumes the conversation, it's ended for the benefit of people who feel there is something useful to read here but get trapped into a bunch of useless chatter.

#15 Adam Nagy

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 09:50 AM

Jesus ran into a consensus and this is how He dealt with it...

Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

Let me transliterate that into this context:

You have made the truth of reality of no effect because of your consensus.

#16 CTD

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 11:54 PM

Hi CTD,

Concerning human nature, creationists are equally vulnerable to the less noble aspects of its influences.  As we learn at every political election, even angels can be demonized.  It's just a rhetorical technique, the "Are you still beating your wife?" types of ploys.

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There are many aspects of human nature. I mentioned the one I mentioned because it has value when investigating history. Why did you choose to mention this one? I see no relevance.

Let's say you're a member of a school board subcommittee at the state level given the mandate of defining the guidelines for the science curriculum for public schools.  What criteria would you use for deciding what to include or exclude?

--Percy

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The only way this is on-topic is if you mean to imply that such decisions should be based upon consensus. I cannot say whether you mean to make this implication or change the subject - not for sure.

In case you do intend to be on-topic, I'll point out that the consensus where I live is that the Bible is correct. This consensus isn't taught in either "science" or "religion" classes - quite the opposite.

As for your subcommittee member, one thing they should certainly consider is their obligation to provide an education that will serve the students and the community well. Wasting precious time and resources teaching things that have no practical application in the real world would be mighty hard to justify against that standard.

Another consideration is effectiveness. Assuming origins beliefs are going to be taught, studies have clearly shown that students who are taught both creation & evolutionist versions obtain a better understanding than the ones who are deprived. Contrast has a wonderful way of helping people see.

#17 Adam Nagy

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:07 AM

Another consideration is effectiveness. Assuming origins beliefs are going to be taught, studies have clearly shown that students who are taught both creation & evolutionist versions obtain a better understanding than the ones who are deprived. Contrast has a wonderful way of helping people see.

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I've had nothing but a great time discussing these things with kids and they are almost always up to the challenge of being critical and asking questions when you bring up your own conviction that evolution has gone by the way side scientifically but continues to remain prominent due to things like consensus and uncritical acceptance.

#18 Percy

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:09 AM

Hi Adam and CTD!

As important as it is to understand the role of consensus in science, it's just as important to understand what is not its role.

Concensus is not how we know what is true and what is not true. All science is tentative. Any theory, no matter how widely accepted within the scientific community, is always open to change in light of new evidence or improved insights (I know I keep saying this in the exact same words, but it's important). Just because a theory has a consensus does not mean that it is not open to challenge. Everything in science is open to challenge.

Consensus is not how we know something is true, but how we know what the scientific community believes today to be most likely to be true of the real world and universe. "True" in this context does not mean timeless truth. It simply means most likely to be an accurate understanding of some facet of the real world and universe.

But the reason consensus in science is important is because it is built upon the study of the real world by many people. When one scientist looks at a water droplet under the microscope and sees tiny life (I'm talking about Van Leeuwenhoek, of course) then maybe there's tiny life and maybe there isn't. When a couple more scientists also report seeing tiny life under a microscope, then there begins to be some expectation that this might be a new discovery. And when over a period of a few years many more scientists report seeing tiny life under a microscope, and some even begin performing experiments that elaborate upon the discovery, perhaps studying reproduction or metabolic processes, then a consensus soon develops that there is such a thing as microscopic life.

Where awareness of the scientific consensus is most useful is in education. Whether at the K-12 level, college level or graduate level, educators want to put the most emphasis on those things in science felt most likely to be true about reality.

Now responding to a few specific things from Adam:

I would rather spend three days talking to an inquisitive person about what's going on right now, the science behind it, the philosophy of science and what different groups believe science can show us, then 15 minutes wrestling with someone over the perceived importance of the consensus and whether people should submit or not. 

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There is no requirement or demand that people submit to a consensus, but there is an expectation that people will acknowledge a consensus when it exists. Christianity became a religion when within certain communities a consensus formed that Christ did actually die for our sins. Natually some in these communities did not believe this, but it would be perverse for them to deny that they're on the other side of the consensus.

The very problem on this thread of following the consensus, as good intellectual procedure, is forgotten the moment history is our guide, because Darwin didn't follow the consensus of his time and he is virtually worshiped for his bold move. 

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Yes, precisely, an excellent example. I think Wegener and continental drift is an excellent example, too. So is Einstein, as relativity seemed extremely counter-intuitive and weird at first to many scientists. In science, you don't make a name for yourself by further confirming consensus views. You strike out on your own. Most scientists only extend our knowledge within an existing paradigm, but even with all we know we are still inventing new paradigms. For example, up until about 10 years ago almost all cosmologists believed the expansion of the universe was slowing. The only question was whether it was slowing at a rate that would eventually cause expansion to stop and compression to begin. No one expected the discovery that the rate of expansion is accellerating and that the expansion will never cease. A new paradigm!

About these discussions causing unintended learning, I agree. I've said this myself many times, including here sometime recently.

About your experiences at evolutionist boards:

Second, the consensus card would come out. 

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Just tell them what I've told you about consensus.

Third, I would be accused of not being educated enough to say the things I was saying or to understand the things they had shown me.

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You do have a tendency to reinforce this impression, and especially when after conceding you lack sufficient familiarity with the details adding things like (paraphrasing), "I'm confident Genesis is the correct account," doesn't help, either. In a science discussion the appeals are supposed to be to evidence, not to authority, even if Biblical as in this case. If Genesis is true then the evidence will back that up, and so you should stick to the evidence.

--Percy

#19 Percy

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:25 AM

There are many aspects of human nature. I mentioned the one I mentioned because it has value when investigating history. Why did you choose to mention this one? I see no relevance.

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Why did I mention demonizing the opposition? Because that's what you were doing. Here's the relevant portion of what you said in Message 11:

We know human nature. Wiki, as the new talkdeceptions mouthpiece, would surely mention such details if they could source them.

How do we know? Like I said, we know human nature. We know that today one can find plenty of evolutionists boasting how they were converted to "science". If such had existed in the 1800's, we all know the infant propaganda machine would've spread the word. The mature and functional (albeit incompetent) propaganda machine of today would dearly love to have actual names to associate with it's non-stop claim that evolutionism won out on the strength of evidence.

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Getting back to your most recent message, this is the most significant portion of what you say next:

As for your subcommittee member, one thing they should certainly consider is their obligation to provide an education that will serve the students and the community well. Wasting precious time and resources teaching things that have no practical application in the real world would be mighty hard to justify against that standard.

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Presumably all school boards want to teach the consensus about what constitutes good English, accurate and significant history, important math concepts, and good and significant science.

--Percy

#20 Adam Nagy

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:56 AM

Hey Percy,

I appreciate your post and while I disagree with some of your tenants, it was well worded and thoughtful.

I don't think I've ever denied the fact that evolution is the prominent origins belief among scientists. Nor do I think you were implying it but I just want to be clear that I have no problem looking at the climate of our culture, science or otherwise, as it is to use reality as the platform. I feel no need to win popularity contests. I'll simply use the sword of the Spirit.

Now I have one question for you...

Will you admit that there are a growing number of people (who pull their eye up from the microscope ;) ) a growing consensus, that agree that Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian evolution has been invalidated?

This will be a good place not to use a motive statement and to simply acknowledge the growing attitude as it is.




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