Karl Popper, that eminent theorist of the Philosophy of Science, when discussing the possibility of theoretical science, made it a point to say that while no amount of evidence can ever prove a theory, it only takes one single bit of evidence to refute that theory. If we take science to task, to answer for their claims, here regarding dating methods, the Origin of Life, and soon the Origin of Man, it is not because we ask of them undisputed proof. As we have already stated, theoretical science is simply that, theory, or more properly with regard to our topics of concern right now, metaphysics. No one is asking, nor should rightly ask, that theorists stop theorizing. As we also have said, this is how science advances. This theory can come from some tenured professor of Microbiology or Cosmology, or it can come from Jules Verne, HG Wells, or Billy Bob.
By the same token, theory can be believed, or not. Insofar as it is just theory, as an object for practical science, in itself it carries no more weight than any other metaphysical proposition. That we have elevated this theoretical science to the basis for a worldview, that we have considered the guesses to be “science” of any advance, is where our problems have set in. We have blurred, or even erased the line between practical and theoretical science.
Just one illustration of what I mean before we move quickly through this section about Scientific Consensus and delve into the Theory of Evolution. Thomas Edison can serve as a model. In some senses Edison was a scientific theorist. Let’s use the light bulb as an example. Through his research of others’ theories, Edison made the hypothesis that if he could find a filament that could withstand the flow of electricity, and enclose it in a sealed chamber, that light like the sun’s could be reproduced artificially. At this point Edison’s science was theoretical, as it was in the form of idea, it was a conceptual design, and an educated guess. When he began to test the theory in practice, and found it to not only work in one instance, but work in all instances (repeatability), and furthermore actually produced this light visibly for all the world to see, thus bringing to us one of the greatest inventions of all time, he was doing practical science.
Now from the earliest written records of man until the very day Edison provided the working bulb, artificial light other than in the form of burning fire of some kind (and possibly, a particular stone or amber which according to the ancient Greeks burned bright for a thousand years) was a pipe dream, something many suggested but nobody produced. All the prior ways offered whereby a person might produce such artificial light were also theories. One could believe them or not, but it was up to the subsequent objective trials, production, more trials, and testing, to make the theory a true one. Before that time, Edison might as well have been theorizing about a time machine.
Edison and the great inventors and practical scientists have harnessed the Truth in existing theories in effort make the world a better place to live in. What has the Big Bang Theory, or The Theory of Evolution, or the scientific fairy tale about the Origin of Life, given us to use? It has given no even mental comfort, surely, and it has given us no inventions, certainly nothing of use to anyone but the people now still using these theories. We have invented Nintendo for adults, virtual worlds for grown people getting paid big money, wasting big money and producing nothing of human value. By them we have degraded the human species, downgraded the planet Earth, instituted wild unimaginable numbers regarding duration, polluted and pounded holes in the atmosphere we are wondering why is deteriorating. and for which we proceed to blame aerosol cans.
OK, but then what good has it given us, this purely scientific–let me say paid–theorizing? Well, you could buy for yourself a telescope Pythagoras could only wish he’d had., and by it examine the same beautiful and consistent constellations and celestial objects that he watched. You can play wonderful video games and get sources for your research at a flick of the keyboard, and not have to travel thousands of miles to obtain the books you need. You may communicate long distances, even visually. But, and this is a very big “but”– all these things are practical inventions, and we cannot say that any of the science, any of the Big Bang Theory itself, any of the idea of Evolution itself, is responsible. Financially, epistemologically, metaphysically, artistically, ethically, and practically, these theories have all been just one big drain on the human race.
What we have done today, it seems, as I have repeated over and over purposefully, is elevated theoretical, or soft, science, to a position of hard, or practical science. The children in schools, the world, it is not that what they are being told might be untrue. The apparent travesty is that they are being asked to accept haphazard baseless speculation as science.
Now we should never ask science to cease and desist exploring the unknown, nor should we ask religion to place off limits, or label as undiscoverable, that which we as of yet do not really understand. In my own reading of the meaning of real science, there can be no taboos, no subjects on which we cannot theorize or aim our instruments of discovery.
Nevertheless there remains, also to my eyes, a wide chasm between what can be the Truth, and what is the Truth. Scientific or otherwise, we determine the difference by proof in experiment, solidity and rationality of theory, practical use, trial and error, etc. By all these criteria, and in considering the theoretical science we have at least so far discussed, we must then make, if not repeat yet again the observation, that we have made the dire error of accepting collated collections of hypotheses as facts of science.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of Scientific Consensus. This Consensus itself is a theory, the belief that the greatest scientific minds of the world can agree on the truth about this or that issue. Wikipedia says Scientific Consensus is “…the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.”
By this we can see that at any one time “science” or “what science says” is a statement loaded with assumptions, such as that “everyone is in agreement,” or that “no alternative options exist,” which in almost every scientific field and about almost every point of contention, is never the case. Crackpots to visionaries and true seers always exist, always have a voice that more or less gets tuned out by the majority ears. This is democracy, specifically majority rule, applied to science.
But science can hardly be democratic and is all but, when good, a monarchy, and when bad, a dictatorship. Comparatively few great geniuses have spawned the greatest ideas and inventions that we have. The greatest ideas of benefit to mankind have come in the face of scathing contrary opinion. Think of Galileo, da Vinci, Newton, Faraday, Tesla, Pasteur, and Einstein, and also about people who have actually been burned at the stake by the standing “science,” oftentimes for merely making claims, for theorizing, contrary to the prevailing view. The Spirit of Anarchy, as Feyerabend put it, must ever be alive when it comes to doing science, and when this spirit overtakes the prevailing views, nothing less than a scientific revolution has taken place. Everything must be re-evaluated.
The result of this Spirit of Anarchy is that as the new theory becomes more accepted, it begins to gain adherents, and conversely, the old theory begins to fade. Call it jumping on the bandwagon, and in science, for some, this can take a very long time; science is reluctant to give up what it has established, especially when what is established is considered scientific fact.
While some of this wavering of epistemological allegiance is due to the evidence presented, most of the reason for the bandwagon-jumping and changing of views is, for lack of a better word, political. People want to be on the winning team, scientists want to get jobs and get published, they want to write and sell books, be part of society’s decision-making process. So political a process is it, rather than a scientific one, that we may analogize the general tendency in our current politics itself. Not four years ago over 60% of the people in the United States of America supported their President George Bush. Now, four years and a new President later, that figure of support stands at just under 15% for the same man. This is a good example of a paradigm shift.
It is exactly the same with theoretical science, and like Bush, new science hasn’t give us very much of anything, and certainly no real advancement. Some of the science’s original adherents didn’t even really know or understand the policies, yet allied themselves with the Slime, the Bang, and Evolution, because all their friends did, or the majority did. Some of them threw their allegiance to this popular wave of science simply because they did not like the alternatives. When the ships begin to sink, these supporters, on the whole, jump overboard.
A VERY IMPORTANT MOVIE that you should watch regarding “global warming” and especially the idea of Scientific Consensus in general (and the IPCC, supposedly the world’s “top scientists”) must be seen, just click here, it is 1 hour and 15 minutes or so long, and has sent the Al Gore-ists scampering.
So scientific consensus is never easy to pin down. The best we can hope to do is always caricature science, whenever we use the term in its widest sense. For at all times, for every issue, there are dissenters, some of whom may be proven right in the light of new evidence, and others whom may succumb to the pressure and board the sinking ship nonetheless.
We like to say that today we are better off than were people years ago. Personally, with regards to theoretical science, I debate this claim. We have a lifespan no real length greater than in ancient Greece, and nowhere near the age claimed of Noah. We have technologies and the other products of practical science which have surely made our stay on the planet more comfortable, namely the inventions we know as electricity, the compressor, the engine, the radio and television, the light bulb, and several more conveniences. But what else, really, has even practical science provided, let alone theoretical science? Indeed, arguments could be made that even these greatest of modern inventions have not come without some consequential detriment to society and mankind.
Medicine, some might say, has made advances. Let’s just say a few things about this field of science. Regarding the mending of broken bones, the fixing of teeth, even the excision of tumors in the brain and lung, we have had this technology since 300 BC by the Greeks, and even 800 AD by the natives of the Americas. Da Vinci, Galen, and many other ancients have long ago dismembered and labeled the human anatomy. Herbs, tinctures, salves, and potions have been used, and so pharmaceuticals invented, since the dawn of civilization. Every devastating pestilence the world has thus far encountered–cholera, typhoid fever, polio, malaria, smallpox. yellow fever, AIDS…genocide–has either not yet been fully eradicated (lying latent perhaps?), or was only cured after the death toll had already taken a fast downturn, and so after the disease was already on its way out on its own.
The possibilities of medicine are not our purpose here, at least not yet on truthopia anyway, our immediate concern is with the Origin of Man. The connection is that even in something as practical as medicine, the Scientific Consensus, whatever its merits, is what determines the therapy’s value. Drugs that haven’t been tested correctly or accurately, results that have not been examined objectively, there are so many reasons why, despite all the work over the last thousands of years, we have done little to improve man’s length on the Earth, other than recognizing the importance of cleanliness and sanitation. One must, I assure you, be almost frightful of medicine’s treatment, especially when it concerns imbalances at the microbial or germ level. We may, for instance, all be living with cancer, from the days of our births, and that it is our keeping it under control that wavers. Our bodies may be off balance because they are in the midst of correcting something. Oftentimes, and today I think it especially true, the treatment is worse than the disease, and the consensus arrived at by a procedure identical to that by which we have forged the Big Bang – and changed daemonic possession and imbecility into chemical imbalances and genetic mutations. But from whence, and art thy sure, Horatio?
Regarding the dating methods used by science, regarding the scientific explanations for the Origin of Life, regarding the hypothesis of the Big Bang, and as we will see, regarding the Theory of Evolution, there is no real consensus. There is, however, a majority rule, which may or may not be reflective of the truth. So when we say “theoretical science says” we will mean what most theoretical scientists believe. This we will consider the Scientific Consensus, and this is what must accept the brunt of our criticism.