Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 24 April 2023

Scientific Consensus – A Manufactured Construct

In a recent interview, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was challenged on his scientific views about COVID-19 and he said “I’m only interested in consensus” – words that would have Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei rolling in their graves.

The appeal to “scientific consensus” is fraught with problems, just like “The science is settled” and “Trust the science” and other authoritarian tropes that have dominated the pandemic.

A widely accepted theory, such as the theory of evolution, depends on a consensus being reached among the scientific community, but it must be achieved without censorship or reprisal.

As Aaron Kheriaty, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, recently said:

Science is an ongoing search for truth & such truth has little to do with consensus. Every major scientific advance involves challenges to a consensus. Those who defend scientific consensus rather than specific experimental findings are not defending science but partisanship.

Consensus by Censorship

It’s not difficult to reach a scientific consensus when you squelch dissenting voices.

The origin of COVID is a classic example. Twenty-seven scientists published a letter in the Lancet condemning “conspiracy theories” that suggested the virus did not have a natural origin. Dissenting views were censored on social media and labelled “misinformation.”

It’s only now that the US Department of Energy and the FBI say the virus was likely the result of a lab leak in Wuhan, that it’s possible to have these discussions openly.

The Great Barrington Declaration is another example. Three eminent professors from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford Universities, argued against lockdowns, which they said would disproportionately harm the underprivileged.

But former NIH director Francis Collins dismissed them as “fringe epidemiologists” asking Anthony Fauci for “a quick and devastating take down” of the declaration.

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