Intelligent Design

Behe on “Scientific Consensus”

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We would like to remind our readers that Michael Behe has a sub-blog here at UD, which can be accessed at the sidebar under “Intelligent Design Links.”  

Last week Behe put up a four-part series replying to science writer Carl Zimmer’s comments about Behe’s response to Joseph Thornton’s recent work.  The final paragraph is classic Behe: 

As for “no scientific controversy”, even a brief excursion into the history of science shows many uncontroversial, widely-accepted theories that were in fact wrong. There was no scientific controversy in the 19th century about the existence of the ether, or the adequacy of Newton’s laws. And, if one relies on science journals for her entire perspective, there is no controversy today about whether undirected natural processes can account for the origin of life. Yet neither can any scientist today detail a plausible theory of the origin of life. So the bare question of whether some idea is or is not controversial within the scientific community is itself simply a sociological question, not a scientific one.

13 Replies to “Behe on “Scientific Consensus”

  1. 1
    jerry says:

    I suggest that those interested in this topic read a famous article from “Marketing Sciences” which says that Science is really marketing, that is trying to persuade others of your point of view. Here is a link

    http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~ws.....keting.htm

    So the guys in the science departments at the big universities are no different than Mad Men. Actually having worked in both places, I will take the Mad Men over the university scientists any day. Mad Men have to deal with the real world.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a song for Dr. Behe, for having the guts to stand for the truth and against the consensus “scoundrels”

    Alter Bridge – Rise Today
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRUpbkzEdrY

    Michael Crichton on consensus science:
    I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    And he continues:

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What are relevant are reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

  3. 3
    osteonectin says:

    even a brief excursion into the history of science shows many uncontroversial, widely-accepted theories that were in fact wrong.

    But there have been plenty more controversial or not even discussed, un-accepted theories as well as thoughts that didn’t even qualify as haypotheses or theories that neither were right.

  4. 4
    Kyrilluk says:

    I would like to know if Behe is going to publish a review about this interesting study:http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....171726.htm
    “Speed Limit To The Pace Of Evolution.”
    This seems to be very important for ID. I’m surprise that none of the usual ID website commented on that. Maybe too busy posting on theological matters?

  5. 5
    tragic mishap says:

    I’m sure Behe at least will comment on this, since it references Lenski’s work and Behe has been keeping close tabs on Lenski. Perhaps when he has had more than two days to look at it?

  6. 6
    derwood says:

    Yes, that is classic Behe, alright…

  7. 7
    Rude says:

    How about this on Consensus Science by Michael Crichton:

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

  8. 8
    Rude says:

    Oh my how did I miss it—Bornagain77 already quoted Michael Crichton. Oh well, maybe he’s worth reading twice.

  9. 9

    I completely agree with Crichton’s views on “consensus” in science. Furthermore, one need only attend virtually any meeting of a scientific society dedicated to taxonomy/ cladistics to see how far “consensus” gets you.

    As Hegel pointed out long ago, science, like all fields of intellectual endeavor, progresses when people argue and debate, not when they agree. That’s why I always invite ID supporters, YECs, and anyone else who’s willing to defend their views to make presentations in my evolution course. Once all our views are open and on the table, we can then proceed to shred each other’s views with all the vigor (and delight) we can bring to it!

    P.S. That’s also why I come here; to help me clarify my own views by testing them against the views of people who are diametrically opposed to them. Or, as my fencing master often says, a true gentleman (and gentlewoman) is always “gracious and dignified in defeat, humble and gentle in victory”. en garde, mon amis!

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

    Not quite.

    The consensus does not decide what is the best explanation but it can be evidence that one is in play.

    If you poll biologists the great majority will tell you evolution is the best theory they have. If you poll physicists, the vast majority will tell you that quantum and relativity theory are the two best theories they have.

    Are they necessarily wrong because there is a consensus as Crichton would have it? Of course not. There is widespread agreement because the evidence supporting those theories is irresistible.

    If the consensus exists because the evidence exists then just maybe they are on to something.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    At [10] Seversy defends (sort of) consensus science, and in support of his view he writes: “If you poll physicists, the vast majority will tell you that quantum and relativity theory are the two best theories they have.”
    Ironic choice there, because whatever the merits of quantum theory in the subatomic realm and relativity in the macroscopic realm, they conflict with one another. It follows that our combined physics (micro and macro) is, if not wrong, at least incomplete.

  12. 12
    Oramus says:

    Kyrilluk,

    The article is Science Daily’s way of climbing down the darwinian ladder with ever so slow yet purposeful steps. 🙂

    So evolution is finished and we observe fluctuating adaptive landscapes (not specifically directed toward ‘more’ fitness); IOW stasis.

    Well, whaddaya know?

    I would like to know if Behe is going to publish a review about this interesting study:http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....171726.htm
    “Speed Limit To The Pace Of Evolution.”
    This seems to be very important for ID. I’m surprise that none of the usual ID website commented on that. Maybe too busy posting on theological matters?

  13. 13
    tribune7 says:

    I completely agree with Crichton’s views on “consensus” in science.

    Which is the same as Behe’s 🙂

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