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For better science, dismiss the rubbish that “science is self-correcting” in principle

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A more honest appraisal can be had from Douglas Allchin at Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science:

Abstract: In standard characterizations, science is self-correcting. Scientists examine each other’s work skeptically, try to replicate important discoveries, and thereby expose latent errors. Thus, while science is tentative, it also seems to have a system for correcting whatever mistakes arise. It powerfully explains and justifies the authority of science. Self-correction thus often serves emblematically in promoting science as a superior form of knowledge. But errors can and do occur. Some errors remain uncorrected for long periods. I present five sets of historical observations that indicate a need to rethink the widespread mythos of self-correction. First, some errors persist for decades, wholly undetected. Second, many errors seem corrected by independent happenstance, not by any methodical appraisal. Third, some errors have been “corrected” in a cascade of successive errors that did not effectively remedy the ultimate source of the error. Fourth, some errors have fostered further serious errors without the first error being noticed. Finally, some corrections to erroneous theories have themselves been rejected when initially presented. In all these cases, scientists failed to identify and correct the errors in a timely manner, or according to any uniform self-correcting mechanism. These historical perspectives underscore that error correction in science requires epistemic work. We need deeper understanding of errors, through the emerging field of error analytics. (pdf) Allchin, D. (2015). Correcting the “Self-Correcting” mythos of science, _Filosofia eHistoria da Biologia_ (Sao Paulo), 10(1), 19-35. More.

In a world of elite virtue signaling, “science is self-correcting” is quite simply a false flag. Science is not in itself any more self-correcting than any other enterprise. When people’s interests or beliefs conflict with honest reappraisal, they will usually try any other strategy first.

Quite simply it okay with them to fail and go on failing, as long as they remain safely within the system they built.

How else, for example, to explain the immense hold that string theory and Darwinism have over so many people? How difficult it is to get any honest discussion going? We all know the reason: These propositions support naturalism and faced with a lack of evidence, many will simply diminish the role of evidence, as opposed to conformity to theory.

Self-correction is a rational human choice; it is not inherent in any enterprise whatsoever.

Nice little science you have here… It would be a pity if… More serious thinkers among scientists should take heed: If you think you have the right to produce evidence against something the Marchers want to believe, you are in their gunsights too. As noted earlier, any barrel of foaming rage will soon have the right to be a scientist, which certainly trumps your privilege.

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One Reply to “For better science, dismiss the rubbish that “science is self-correcting” in principle

  1. 1
    tertiumquid says:

    David Berlinski on the topic: “The sciences require no criticism, many scientists say, because the sciences comprise a uniquely self-critical institution, with questionable theories and theoreticians passing constantly before stern appellate review. Judgment is unrelenting. And impartial. Individual scientists may make mistakes, but like the Communist Party under Lenin, science is infallible because its judgments are collective. Critics are not only unwelcome, they are unneeded.” [emphasis mine]

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