From the National Association of Scholars:
The Pressure of Group Thought
Academic “consensus” is in the news. Stetson University professor of psychology Christopher Ferguson, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently gave a run-down on how the American Psychological Association supposedly compromised itself by manipulating a task force into endorsing harsh interrogations of prisoners. Ferguson says the APA “crafted a corrupted ‘consensus’ by excluding those who might disagree.”
Ahem. Never mind “disagree.” What if most of the evidence fails to support a politically crafted “consensus,” often enforced from the bench? Cf Darwin in the schools.
The left today is infatuated with “consensus” as a tool that can be used to ostracize views it would rather not have to debate. If there is a consensus on “Black Lives Matter” or “Climate Change,” the matter is settled. The herding instinct of the collectivist left is stroked by consensus. The right has some of these herding impulses too, but it also has a much stronger strand of individualism, and for individualists the pronouncement that something is backed by consensus is a warning label. That label says, “Probably contains unwarranted assumptions, unfounded factual claims, and an aversion to considering alternative ideas.”
But “consensus science” is big among self-proclaimed Christians in science too, I suspect for the same reasons: to shelter mediocre Bible believers who happen to have a job in science from independent, creative thinkers (who may also be Bible believers, incidentally).
Aggressive demands for consensus are always a war against mounting contrary evidence.
Heck. If we had had “consensus” on the Internet twenty-five years ago, we would still be stuck with dial up and wait.
If you are lucky enough to live in a free society, you are entitled to vote for all that. And you can be sure you will get it. There is never a shortage of mediocrities with a taste for power and privilege, who ride in and pitch their tents under the flag of consensus.
Woods’ article goes on to claim that demands for consensus are on the decline. That may be so, but the odds are against it. A culture in which aggrieved mediocrities rule will never lack a demand for consensus, especially consensus that their failures and shortcomings are really successes of some kind.
Essentially, one either has group thought or a productive intellectual life. Want to hear what “group thought” ends up sounding like? See Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain.
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