In a standard application of the psychological principle of confirmation bias, scientific research which supports the existing scientific consensus is usually more favorably received than research which contradicts the existing consensus. In some cases, those who question the current paradigm are at times heavily criticized for their assessments. Research which questions a well supported scientific theory is usually more closely scrutinized in order to assess whether it is well researched and carefully documented. This caution and careful scrutiny is used to ensure that science is protected from a premature divergence away from ideas supported by extensive research and toward new ideas which have yet to stand the testing by extensive research. However, this often results in conflict between the supporters of new ideas and supporters of more dominant ideas, both in cases where the new idea is later accepted and in cases where it is later abandoned.
Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions discussed this problem in detail. Several examples of new concepts gaining acceptance when supported by accumulating evidence are present in the relatively recent history of science. For example:
* the theory of continental drift proposed by Alfred Wegener and supported by Alexander Du Toit and Arthur Holmes but soundly rejected by most geologists until indisputable evidence and an acceptable mechanism was presented after 50 years of rejection. * the theory of symbiogenesis presented by Lynn Margulis and initially rejected by biologists but now generally accepted. * the theory of punctuated equilibria proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge which is still debated but becoming more accepted in evolutionary theory. * the theory of prions -proteinaceous infectious particles causing transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases– proposed by Stanley B. Prusiner and at first rejected because pathogenicity was believed to depend on nucleic acids now widely accepted due to accumulating evidence. * the theory of Helicobacter pylori as the cause of stomach ulcers. This theory was first postulated in 1982 by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren however it was widely rejected by the medical community believing that no bacterium could survive for long in the acidic environment of the stomach. Marshall demonstrated his findings by drinking a brew of the bacteria and consequently developing ulcers, subsequently curing himself with antibiotic medication. In 2005, Warren and Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on H. pylori.
For every new idea that has gained acceptance, there are far more examples of new ideas that were shown to be wrong. Two of the classics are N rays and polywater. However, most new ideas that have gained consesus were shown to be correct. This is because new ideas are typically being put forth by an individual and acceptance involves a great many individuals verifiying and/or duplicating scientific results.
In my view, climate science (which promoted global warming due to human production of CO2) is too young for us to trust the scientific consensus.
“-Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) assailed the authors of SuperFreakonomics for participating in the effort to deceive the American public on the science of global warming, in particular for their “-absolute deception”- in their portrayal of the views of climate scientist Ken Caldeira. He criticized the book during a hearing of the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming investigating forged letters sent on behalf of the coal industry opposing climate legislation.”-
…-“-like nice liberal Democrats”-…- ha! ha! ha! —- …- like Mike Linksvayer, then…- (depending on your meaning of “-liberal”-)…-
Previous blog posts by Chris “GadFly” Masse:
PROF TOM W. BELL, PLEASE, DO SKIP THE PAGAN CELEBRATIONS, AND, PLEASE, DO RETURN TO YOUR DESK TO FINISH THE DRAFT OF YOUR COMMENT TO THE CFTC. THANKS FOR YOUR PRAGMATIC (NOT ‘ETHEREAL’) CONTRIBUTION TO “THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY”. (There is a hidden slam to Robin Hanson in this title. I wonder whether people will get the joke.)
The CFTC is going to close the comments in 3 days. We have 3 days left to convince the CFTC to accept FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges (e.g., InTrade USA or BetFair USA), and counter the puritan and sterile petition organized by the American Enterprise Institute (which has on its payroll Paul Wolfowitz, the bright masterminder of the Iraq war).
TOM W. BELL: “Thanks, Chris. Thanks, too, for being such an effective gadfly. I might well have blown off the whole exercise if you had not kept blogging about how you were awaiting my comment!”
What to think of HedgeStreet’s comment to the CFTC
The freshest comments sent to the CFTC
“To someone like me who trades professionally and also ran for Congress a few years back, InTrade is a marriage made in heaven.”
HOW TO DESTROY INTRADE, TRADESPORTS AND BETFAIR: a betting application for FaceBook
Applied to the psychological arrow of time, that would mean that we could remember the future, instead of the past. We would make a killing on prediction markets if we knew in advance how all contacts would expire.
I did a quick research on the Internet and found out that Olivier Costa De Beauregard is still hot on his interpretation of the EPR paradox —-interpretation which introduces the concept of “-zigzagging causality”-, and which abides by both the physics of quantum mechanics and Einstein’-s physics of general relativity.
Reading Eliezer Yudkowsky at Overcoming Bias is a waste of time.
It’-s better to read the best physicists directly, when you are interesting in an issue.
Robin Hanson and Olivier Costa De Beauregard should meet around a round of white Porto. They both studied (and are fond of) both physics and philosophy.
As always, the solutions to complex problems (e.g., the EPR paradox) are crazy. “-Zigzagging causality”- is crazy, but it might well be the solution.
Discoverers like Robin Hanson and Olivier Costa De Beauregard were often called on their craziness. When Louis De Broglie first heard about the “-zigzagging causality”- idea, he suggested to his secretary that Olivier Costa De Beauregard had a screw lose. Robin Hanson is familiar with that kind of reaction.