Meditations, Wrestling with Lo

What Science Should I Trust? :: Wrestling with Lo

You can’t know everything, so how do you navigate scientific knowledge? There’s so many people out there trying to get your attention, and all of them appeal to science to make their case. Who’s right?

Here’s some principles to follow:

Trust the scientific consensus. Individual studies don’t matter to you. Individual studies will only matter to you if you are a scientist or student. News or spokespeople that herald a single study as the be-all and end-all source of knowledge should be considered cautiously. A study is a little piece of a puzzle, not a sacred text.

Trust the scientific community. A common romantic notion is the genius who is ahead of the curve. Only a few of these people have existed, and fewer still worked alone. Crucially, you cannot assume that you are one of these geniuses. The only circumstance where this would be true for you is if you discovered something, not someone. Discovering a radical theory (or more likely, a theorist) is not the same as discovering radical evidence. A person who publically claims to be ahead of the curve is trying to get attention from you, a layman, not scientists. Odds are, this is because they can take advantage of your ignorance. If their radical idea is good science, you won’t hear it from them, you’ll hear it from a panel.

Trust scientific inertia. There are persons who claim their evidence is being resisted by the scientific community. They portray this as a bad thing but it is, in fact, science working normally. Resistance of new scientific information is part of what separates bad information from good information. If a person is complaining publically about this, it might be because their information is poor quality.

Trust scientific collaboration. Science, while performed by individuals, is not determined by individuals. Science is inherently collaborative because no one person has an objective viewpoint. Objectivity is emergent of many people doing science. It is impossible to be purely objective as an individual.

Whatever the consensus, resist laws and policies which aim to harm souls or torture spirits. We can agree on the basic facts of reality while still disagreeing on what to do about them.

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