[PODCAST] #334: Scientific Consensus vs. Dissent (Part 1) – Introduction and Definitions

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This show begins a series that will examine the concept of scientific consensus and contrast it with voices of the dissenters who find value in minority scientific opinions, theories and conclusions. It will also ask the question: is there any way to bridge the gap? Darrell Becker will be co-hosting all episodes in this series.

Introduction:
-Clarification of goals and definitions
-A healthy distrust of Academia
-Understand how science can be politicized, both ways
-Frustration with skeptics

Discussion:
-People are all coming to eventually form various conclusions based on personal and secondary/tertiary supportive evidence (including appeals to various authorities). Some folks seem to consider that there are verified opinions formed amongst a scientific majority (often erroneously called the "scientific consensus").

-These theories and opinions are widely publicized in scientific periodicals which are widely used and distributed by the scientific academic communities in universities, those researchers who are beneficiaries of research grant funds, and are taught in such educational facilities and other venues

-Others have developed a healthy skepticism regarding the scientific majority opinions on a wide variety of topics. It seems that many of us "dissenters" prefer to have dissenting opinions (academically and tangibly) from some (but not all) of those conclusions held by the widely-published scientific majority

-Will some of us be dissenters forever?

-As dissenters to the majority opinion of widely-publicized scientists, many of us notice that many people who take the majority opinion can get very emotional when hearing criticism of the majority conclusion which was taught to them, which they independently discovered or which they merely heard of and conclude "must be true".

-How Darrell came to "Liberty" through his studies of medicine

-Any idea in science carries the seeds of its own destruction

Background:
"My thesis is that the criteria by which individuals are deemed qualified or unqualified to become professionals involve not just technical knowledge as is generally assumed, but also attitude—in particular, attitude toward working within an assigned political and ideological framework. I contend, for example, that all tests of technical knowledge, such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), are at the same time tests of attitude and that the examinations used to assess professional qualification are no exception. I consider in detail how the neutral-looking technical questions on such examinations probe the candidate's attitude.

The qualifying attitude, I find, is an uncritical, subordinate one, which allows professionals to take their ideological lead from their employers and appropriately fine-tune the outlook that they bring to their work. The resulting professional is an obedient thinker, an intellectual property whom employers can trust to experiment, theorize, innovate and create safely within the confines of an assigned ideology. The political and intellectual timidity of today's most highly educated employees is no accident." -Jeff Schmidt Disciplined Minds : A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives.

Look Closer:
Darrell's Site: Voluntary Visions - http://voluntaryvisions.com/

Darrell's Communication Glossary - http://schoolsucksproject.com/practical-definitions-voluntary-communication-by-darrell-becker/

Disciplined Minds : A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives - http://disciplinedminds.tripod.com/

Scientific Consensus and the Argument From Authority - https://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/04/09/scientific-consensus-and-the-argument-from-authority

T&H Trivium Resources - https://www.tragedyandhope.com/trivium/

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, the prophet of bacteriology - http://web.archive.org/web/20080404214853/http://www.general-anaesthesia.com/semmelweis.htm

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10 comments

  1. Perhaps I missed it, but what is Darrell’s definition of the scientific method? How is the method of science/medicine that he advocates for different from the status quo? Does he recognize any difference between science and pseudoscience? Couldn’t his exact same arguments for the myopia and closed-mindedness of mainstream science be applied to ‘alternative’ researchers who reject information simply because it was written by “academics” or published in “respected” journals? And if this is true, then isn’t the problem with rejecting new and contrary information more indicative of old human psychology and appeal to tradition than of the relatively newer scientific method? Hopefully, clearer definitions from the start will help to alleviate the numerous straw men arguments made in the first episode.

    • I will work to reply to your message, Doug.

      “Perhaps I missed it, but what is Darrell’s definition of the scientific method?”

      There are multiple scientific methods, some of which you and I would prefer to be used in various situations. This was not the subject of the episode, or the series. For clarity, I would usually prefer the empirical approach: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/32/ae/54/32ae5467a4890a532f75b91619607ab3.jpg

      “How is the method of science/medicine that he advocates for different from the status quo?”

      The difference would be that I would prefer and advocate a decentralized, multi-disciplinarian approach to most scientific (medical) investigations, where the scientists aren’t put through such a disturbing training process as I’ve studied, experienced and seen evidence of (regarding standard schooling and university/post-grad training), but instead are learned in ways that more pioneering and freely thinking scientists of some centuries past have accomplished. Show number 3 goes into depth regarding these ideas.

      “Does he recognize any difference between science and pseudoscience?”

      I recognize a difference, but I begin investigations with an open mind. I recognize that what is proclaimed to be “science” might indeed be so faulty, such as the “science”, which promotes the modern food pyramid, that I may as well describe it as “pseudoscience”. How long the have the promotion of these “findings” promoted by well-funded periodicals and institutions? I look for evidence, especially clinical instances of practical application among professionals in various fields of study.

      “Couldn’t his exact same arguments for the myopia and closed-mindedness of mainstream science be applied to ‘alternative’ researchers who reject information simply because it was written by “academics” or published in “respected” journals?”

      Yes, if such myopia and closed-mindedness occurred. Again, I invite an open-minded and in-depth look at such subjects and evidence first, and the sources of funding and publishing second. Rejecting information based upon the source of the messenger is a fallacy that Brett and I have been aware of for some time, something we wish to be aware of, regarding our own biases.

      “And if this is true, then isn’t the problem with rejecting new and contrary information more indicative of old human psychology and appeal to tradition than of the relatively newer scientific method?”

      The appeal to tradition is one problem. In studying this subject more over the last month, I realize that I wished to re-audit my previous conclusions, rather than hold to some certainty regarding previous medical and scientific conclusions. Again, there exists today multiple scientific methods being employed. Some of these are covered in this podcast:
      http://www.howpositiveareyou.com/2013/01/10/hpay056-henrybauerdogmatism/

      “Hopefully, clearer definitions from the start will help to alleviate the numerous straw men arguments made in the first episode.”

      I’m open to seeing what the straw men arguments you refer to are. I was making the case for a lack of open-mindedness among a population of scientists and those who refer to them using the “appeal to authority”. I seem to see evidence of this lack of open-mindedness, and I was attempting to address the issue.

      I hope this added some clarity, Doug. Feel free to continue to comment on the School Sucks Project Facebook page for this episode (if you wish), or to send me an email:
      [email protected]
      I will periodically check back here, but perhaps you might know that this website has been lacking in activity, channeling the attention of myself (and Brett) to places like Facebook.
      Thanks for listening and commenting, I enjoyed responding to your questions.
      🙂

  2. I know neither Brett nor Darrell claim to be writers, but come on, can someone please ask one critical question concerning the grammar of these ideas and the ambiguous use of language therein? Lest we promulgate more black-and-white, us v. them thinking? Luckily, painting with too broad a brush, on either side, makes one susceptible to mockery.

    “These theories and opinions are widely publicized in scientific periodicals which are widely used and distributed by the scientific academic communities in universities, those researchers who are beneficiaries of research grant funds, and are taught in such educational facilities and other venues.”

    “These conspiracy theories and opinions are widely publicized in conspiracy journals which are widely reused and redistributed by members of the alternative conspiracy media, those conspiracy researchers who are beneficiaries of an anti-NWO meme in conspiracy media, and are taught in such conspiracy-themed podcast formats and other venues.”

    One man’s poison is another man’s meat.

    • Hi Donald,
      I’m willing to respond to your questions and statements.

      “I know neither Brett nor Darrell claim to be writers, but come on, can someone please ask one critical question concerning the grammar of these ideas and the ambiguous use of language therein?”

      I’m willing to try and understand what is ambiguous regarding the statements and claims I made, regarding grammar and definitions. I claim to be attempting to be a writer, and I have a long, long way to go regarding my abilities with this medium.

      “Lest we promulgate more black-and-white, us v. them thinking? Luckily, painting with too broad a brush, on either side, makes one susceptible to mockery.”

      I am already susceptible to mockery. This isn’t an “us vs. them” idea I wish to promote, but rather a critical look at conclusions which have been in vogue for some time now, including the appeal to authority regarding widely publicized periodicals and the hugely funded institutions which promote them and teach from them. Appeal to the authority of lesser-known “conspiracy journals” is just as much of a fallacy, which I invite readers and listeners to be well aware of, and which I would certainly never advocate.
      I hope this was responsive, please feel free to reply with more along these lines if you have more concerns.

    • Thanks for that Tony.
      Having read what you linked to, I’ve decided that the story of Semmelweis may indeed have holes in it, and might indeed be a modern myth. As an illustration of a situation among doctors and scientists today it still serves as an example, and in future episodes I hope to mention that the story of Semmelweis has been called into question.

  3. Here’s a great example of overcoming “scientific consensus” with scientific evidence:

    Prof. Dan Shechtman 2011 Nobel Prize Chemistry Interview with ATS
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZRTzOMHQ4s

    From Wikipedia:
    Shechtman discovered the icosahedral phase, which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals.

    “For a long time it was me against the world,” he said. “I was a subject of ridicule and lectures about the basics of crystallography. The leader of the opposition to my findings was the two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, the idol of the American Chemical Society and one of the most famous scientists in the world.”

    Linus Pauling is noted saying “There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.”

    The head of Shechtman’s research group told him to “go back and read the textbook” and a couple of days later “asked him to leave for ‘bringing disgrace’ on the team.”

    On publication of his paper, other scientists began to confirm and accept empirical findings of the existence of quasicrystals.

    The Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that “his discovery was extremely controversial,” but that his work “eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Shechtman

    • Thanks for commenting, Myc.
      What you wrote served to illustrate a practical example of what this series is all about. For every Dan Shechtman there are probably hundreds (thousands, even?) of successfully dissuaded scientists and doctors, each of whom are convinced to “tow the line” and return to the herd.
      Thanks for bringing Shectman’s work to my attention.
      🙂

  4. Right away – I have heard several really positive reports on accupuncture from individuals and have never really wondered what the official thinks of the practise but i know , in general , all these perfectly acceptable and often ancient in origin I imagine , asian medial treatments= ALTERNATIVES

  5. Have an awful space between stimulus and response when I hear about the big, out of sight , endless conveyor belt of information and development which is signposted TO THE MILITARY (?)
    Not sure why but that sort of thought fascinates me …:)

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