The title gives it away: “You Must Not ‘Do Your Own Research’ When It Comes To Science.” The writer, senior contributor Ethan Siegel, has a doctorate in astrophysics and teaches. He should know, right?
He should. But he’s pulling a trick. Like the magician, he starts with the truth. He says, “The techniques that most of us use to navigate most of our decisions in life – gathering information, evaluating it based on what we know, and choosing a course of action – can lead to spectacular failures when it comes to a scientific matter.” He goes on to say, “even those of us who are scientists ourselves, lack the relevant scientific expertise needed to adequately evaluate … research on our own.”…
So, when it comes to scientific things, we should listen to scientific experts. What happens, asks the mark in the audience, when two scientific experts say different things? Who do we listen to then?
Siegel responds, as he manipulates the cards, “scientific consensus.” It’s the only thing to believe. Never listen to “contrarian” scientists. He then does a series of false cuts, “you can no doubt find … a handful of medical professionals” who confirm “your preconceived notions.” That, however, is not research. “You are seeking information to confirm your own biases.”
What is the conclusion of the trick? “You need to be humble, and admit that you, yourself, lack the necessary expertise to evaluate the science before you.” Then, he turns over that third card: you must blindly follow whatever the scientific consensus says. Don’t question, don’t research, just acquiesce.George Janek, “The Trick that Scientists Use to Tell You to Trust Scientists, Whatever They Say” at The Stream
As Janek goes on to point out, most advances come from those who bucked the consensus.
And in the age of massive science failures amid COVID Crazy, these confidence tricks are starting to wear thin.