You Don’t Like the Scientific Consensus? Ignore it Away.

You Don’t Like the Scientific Consensus? Ignore it Away. November 29, 2019

Imagine this problem: you’re a layperson, and you dislike the scientific consensus on some issue. I’ve argued that laypeople have no grounds by which to reject a scientific consensus. How could they when they’re outsiders to that discipline? But if you’re part of a vocal minority on the political Right, you just declare the consensus stupid and substitute your own.

Those who give themselves veto power over science sometimes argue that smart people (and who wouldn’t put themselves in that category?) are perfectly able to come to their own conclusions. Or they might poke around the internet to find conclusions they like better and point to those arguments, unconcerned that these are fringe opinions, already evaluated and rejected by the relevant scientists.

Let’s take an example. Dennis Chamberland is not a climate scientist, but he’s good and mad at the current consensus within that discipline that climate change is happening and that it’s primarily caused by human activity (“The Tyranny of Consensus”). That’s not going to stop him from finding more pleasing conclusions on the internet and adopting those.

The dark cause behind all this

He begins by rooting out the underlying cause.

[Infecting science with politics] was accomplished for a reason, of course: specifically so that billions of dollars in global taxes may be levied at the point of a gun against the specter of anthropogenic climate change.

What’s next—black helicopters? The United Nations as world government? Reptoid shape-shifters controlling Congress? The Antichrist? And why would any government be eager to dump billions into a boondoggle?

There seem to be lots of dog-whistle terms in this article to wake up the faithful. If I were in this community, I’d probably understand what he’s trying to say. I suppose that for those people, this vague claim works, but let’s move on to the more interesting point, Chamberland’s attack on the use of the scientific consensus.

Government’s conflict of interest?

Science struggles to do the right thing, but we’re told that government isn’t helping.

The task is made even more difficult by an across-the-board failure of ethics within the profession [of science], created by the billions of research dollars poured into anthropogenic climate change [by government].

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Government money with an agenda bothers you, when on the opposing side is the energy industry? I’ll see your billions of dollars and raise you the many trillions of dollars of market capitalization of those companies.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the publicly traded energy companies Exxon Mobile, Petro China, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and British Petroleum. They have a market capitalization of close to $1.5 trillion. Then there’s the world’s largest company, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, which is valued at $2 trillion. Don’t forget the enormous state-owned oil companies in Mexico, Venezuela, Kuwait, Malaysia, Algeria, Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, and other countries.

The fossil fuel industry is enormous and powerful, and they like the status quo just as it is, thank you very much. They’re not particularly motivated to study climate change, so if we are to understand this issue, government-funded science is the obvious route.

The “follow the money” strategy has now turned on and bitten the author. But that’s okay, as he hurries on to concern about the Dark Forces:

[The government is] entirely biased against any approach, study or theory except the one championed and paid for, solely reflecting the government’s predetermined, ethically conflicted, politically and economically motivated, self-serving theories.

Again, I’m missing the big conspiracy (and more importantly, what would drive it), so let’s set that aside. Was research on GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) burdened by some demand for a government-imposed conclusion? Smallpox vaccine? Internet? Cancer research? Or if they’re too goal-driven, consider work on the Large Hadron Collider to find the Higgs boson or the Cassini spacecraft’s visit to Saturn. Science often just follows the evidence.

Evil consensus

This has been somewhat tangential to the main point, the attacks on the scientific consensus when it is unwanted. Nevertheless this has illustrated the kinds of games that can be played to defend an anti-consensus position.

As an example of the misuse of consensus, Chamberland gives the book A Hundred Authors Against Einstein, published in German in 1931 as a criticism of Relativity. His conclusion:

This consensus-based, adolescent pile-on of Einstein historically backfired in a rather spectacular way, as all consensus schemes are wont to do.

Let’s consider this example. Suppose that

  • There were just 101 physicists in the world, Einstein and 100 others who wrote this book.
  • Einstein proposed Theory X.
  • The other 100 all thoroughly understood Theory X and Einstein’s reasoning.
  • The other 100 all rejected it.

Given that the relevance of a consensus is its value for outsiders like us rather than the practitioners, what do we conclude? Of course, we conclude that Theory X is not ready for prime time. What else could we conclude? Maybe the theory will mature to sway the other physicists, but we go with the consensus. When the consensus changes, so must our opinion.

Chamberland might handwave, “But Einstein was right with Relativity!” I agree, but how do we know? Because, and only because, it’s now the consensus! When it’s Einstein vs. the Hundred, it’s not like there’s an arbiter who can settle the argument. Consensus as our arbiter is imperfect, but it’s the best we have.

Let’s return to A Hundred Authors Against Einstein. It was a useful example to explore the issue, but in fact it doesn’t even make Chamberland’s point because it wasn’t the clean thought experiment I’ve just outlined. By the publication date of this book, Relativity was already well accepted within the scientific community, and the consensus was on Einstein’s side. More important, there was only a single physicist in the list! This wasn’t even an attempt at a scientific consensus.

This is like the Disco Institute’s inept attack on evolution, “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” In it, roughly a thousand scientists, doctors, and engineers skeptical of evolution have added their names, but how many are active biologists whose critique of evolution would be relevant? As with the Relativity attack, few have credentials relevant to the issue at hand.

How does Chamberland expect we laypeople to respond to the scientific consensus? Maybe he likes the Kim Davis approach where every elected official makes their own conscience the ultimate arbiter for any action. “Sure, I’ll follow the law,” she says, “as long as it satisfies my morality.” A Kim Davis world would have county clerks deciding who can get married, Jehovah’s Witness doctors avoiding blood transfusions, Christian Science business owners refusing to provide health insurance, Muslim police officers arresting women dressing immodestly, pharmacists filling only those prescriptions that seem moral, and racist judges deciding cases based on white supremacist principles (for which they find support in the Bible).

Chamberland analogously imagines each of us deciding things on first principles. “Sure, I’ll accept germ theory” (or quantum theory or evolution), Chamberland says, “once I see that it feels right.” Nothing is settled for us, and a 6000-year-old earth is no less an option than one 4.5 billion years old. Creationism, phlogiston, ether, bodily humors, astrology, alchemy, flat earth—they are all in play if there is no consensus. In fact, this is playing out right now as an Ohio bill would require that religious answers (rather than, y’know, accurate answers) on public school tests be acceptable.

In his next tirade, I recommend that Chamberland acknowledge the elephant in the room, that he accepts scientific theories based on whether he likes the conclusion or not.

Evolution is as firmly established a scientific fact
as the roundness of the Earth.
NewScientist, 2008.


(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/9/15.)

Image from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC license


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  • People are happy to cite consensus when it agrees with them. Otherwise not so much.

    • Ann Kah

      Unfortunately, “consensus” often means “my friends all agree”.

      • Michael Murray

        Yes a bit like the puddle being happy to have found a hole that fits it so well.

      • Yes, that can happen.

  • Jim Jones

    We know who is being paid off and why. And it isn’t climate scientists.

  • What is pathetic is to use a 1931 declaration when Einstein’s theories have been proven again and again.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      But, but…science changes its mind!

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        “Science changes its mind because Reality *doesn’t*”


    • Lord Backwater

      That was Chamberland’s point, that the “consensus” against Einstein was wrong.

      In the publication, there were not just 100, but 120 scientists, engineers and laity who all attempted to repudiate Einstein’s theories and promoted the book as the consensus view against relativity. Their aim was to prove by their sheer numbers and academic credentials that Einstein was not just spinning an outrageous fantasy in the name of science, but by simple virtue of their consensus numbers, he was overwhelmingly wrong.

      Where he screwed up was that those 100-120 were not the consensus, they were dissenters.


      Following Planck, other German physicists quickly became interested in relativity, including Arnold Sommerfeld, Wilhelm Wien, Max Born, Paul Ehrenfest, and Alfred Bucherer.[76] von Laue, who learned about the theory from Planck,[76] published the first definitive monograph on relativity in 1911.[77] By 1911, Sommerfeld altered his plan to speak about relativity at the Solvay Congress because the theory was already considered well established.[76]

      • smrnda

        This is also how science is supposed to work. If you come up with some new idea, it will be scrutinized. If the idea has merit, the evidence will stand.

        I mean, people have been going ‘this climate change is all a hoax’ but now we’re at the point where it’s happened.

    • smrnda

      by the same logic, shouldn’t we be more sure of climate change now? it’s not like scientists haven’t been increasingly certain of it as more research has been done.

  • Michael Neville

    It’s becoming more and more fashionable to denigrate experts and substitute what makes one feel good over expertise.

  • Lord Backwater

    [The government is] entirely biased against any approach, study or
    theory except the one championed and paid for, solely reflecting the
    government’s predetermined, ethically conflicted, politically and
    economically motivated, self-serving theories.

    Strangely enough “the government”, especially under Trump, doesn’t seem to be in favour of doing anything about climate change. It is individual scientists, not the agency heads, who are raising the alarm. But many individual scientists who are competent and ethical just doesn’t have the same cachet in conspiracy thinking as teh gubmint.

    • The Jack of Sandwich

      Well see, it’s the Deep State!
      Trump is an incredible, brilliant leader, knows the best way how to do everything and only hires the best people.
      But is unable to inspire any loyalty among his employees and is constantly stabbed in the back by his underlings who completely control the government….

  • RichardSRussell

    “A man does not attain the status of Galileo merely because he is persecuted; he must also be right.” —Stephen Jay Gould, “Velikovsky in Collision”, Natural History, 1975 March

    • Michael Neville

      “They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” –Carl Sagan

      • The Jack of Sandwich

        Columbus was wrong. He just got lucky and hit a continent he didn’t expect to be there.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Columbus had embarked with intent to find and develop a westward route to the Far East, but instead discovered a route to the Americas, which were then unknown to the Old World.”

          Columbus was more right than wrong.
          The world is round, and you can arrive at the Far East by traveling west.
          This was not commonly believed before Columbus and others actually crossed first, the Atlantic and then crossed the Pacific.

        • epeeist

          The world is round

          That was pretty well known at the time, remember the Greeks knew this and had even estimated the size of the Earth (and the distances to the moon and the sun).

          What Columbus did get wrong was the size of the Earth, he used a value which was much smaller than we now know is correct.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I knew all about the research that the Greeks did.
          A lot of the ancient Greek knowledge, however was not known and respected by Catholic Europe.
          The Church liked to suppress scientific investigation.

        • epeeist

          A lot of the ancient Greek knowledge, however was not known and respected by Catholic Europe.

          And yet there was a whole translation movement in the West in the 12th and 13th centuries, translating from Arabic and Greek into Latin. Translations included works by Aristotle, whose cosmology had a spherical earth at the centre. This was accepted by the church.

          You will note that this was long before Columbus’ voyages.

        • Michael Neville

          People didn’t reject Columbus’ arguments because he said the Earth was round, they rejected it because he said the Earth’s circumference was too small. Before 200 BCE Eratostenes, using a valid astronomical procedure, determined the circumference to within 10% of the actual circumference (most of that error was due to his assumption that the Earth was a perfect sphere). Educated Europeans of the late 15th Century knew of Eratostenes’ work and so rejected Columbus’ incorrect circumference. To his dying day Columbus thought he had made it to Asia rather than to what’s now called the Americas.

        • smrnda

          I’m just curious, had he even been to Asia before? How was he so sure? Or was it more a way to pretend he achieved his goal?

          Asia wasn’t a total unknown to Europeans at the time.

        • Michael Neville

          He’d been to the Middle East which is technically Asia, but he’d never made it to the Red Sea, the easiest way from the Mediterranean to India. He considered Asia to be immense and poorly explored by Europeans plus he knew there were a bunch of islands (Philippines, Indonesian archipelago) near Southeast Asia. So he thought he’d got to some of the Asian islands.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          The world is round, but everyone knew that. He was wrong in thinking that sailing West from Eruope would be a better route to the Far East.

          It was possible, but not at all easy.

  • RichardSRussell

    It’s one thing to be the lone voice in the huge crowd if you’re the first; it’s quite another if you’re the last.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Great line. I’m going to steal that if you don’t mind.

  • NSAlito

    David Dunning clears up some misunderstandings about the Dunning-Kruger effect:

    • Michael Neville

      I see I had a slight misunderstanding of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Thank you, Professor Dunning, for giving a simple, straight-forward explanation.

    • Thanks4AllTheFish

      I’m reminded of this…

  • smrnda

    What Chamberlain seems to be suggesting is that if you throw enough money at a hypothesis, you can come up with as much evidence as you are willing to pay for. But if that were possible then science, as a process, would be useless, because the evidence would simply support the best funded conclusion.

    But if that were the case, then we would see mountains of studies supporting various forms of alternative medicine. There are powerful commercial interests behind many of them. However, we don’t see that. They fail, over and over again.

    Now, something that often happens is that, if a person who is promoting a ‘cure’ funds a study that does not show it is effective, they just don’t publicize the results. This ‘desk drawer effect’ has also led to treatments where the evidence they works is weak sticking around.

    “For a scientist whose professional standing, and in some cases tenure, is based on research funding and publications, it is nearly impossible not to accept the government grants and just take the money. ”

    Or they could get other sources of funding. It’s not like anyone has to research climate change. There are other, much better funded fields.

    “Science is not built upon its aggregate hypotheses — but the hypotheses are built upon and supported by science. Reversing this simple tool of philosophic understanding always results in serious error. But when that base has been so dumbed down by the wholesale collapse of a fundamental philosophic education prior to the awarding of degrees, it is inevitable that the institution would eventually be overrun with devastating but tell-tale errors in its most elementary philosophic tenants.”

    I’m having trouble parsing this pretentious nonsense. It seems to be designed to sound really profound though.

    ” Human nature has managed to morph politics and science together into a repulsive, philosophic monstrosity — half science and half religion — specifically designed to reduce multifaceted, chaos-based theory and its inherent, profound complexity to absurdly simple computer modeled abstractions. ”

    Yes, heaven forbid we use these ‘computer’ things. It’s not like computer models haven’t worked in a variety of fields. He’s also saying these modeled abstractions are ‘absurdly simple’ – but he’s not actually demonstrating any weaknesses of these methods. He just says that they are ‘absurdly simple’ and we’re supposed to agree.

    and he seems to ignore, as you wrote, the very well funded petroleum companies who are likely bankrolling him.

    all said, the page has even worse climate change denialism. most are basically conspiracy theories, and there’s very little in the way of discussing the science.

    • Yes, heaven forbid we use these ‘computer’ things.

      I believe computers were first used extensively in proving the four-color map problem (in the 1970s?). Now, their contribution is unremarkable.

      • smrnda

        I’m also thinking that, with the huge amount of computing power and resources we now have, calling a computer model ‘absurdly simple’ is a bit off. We can now study hugely complicated problems because we have better computers.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          And better programmers and better programming tools.

        • Joe_Buddha

          I’s quietly proud. 😉

        • ildi

          As my risk assessor friends say “all models suck, some just suck less than others.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I think I remember a Jerry Pournelle line being: “No models are accurate, but some are useful.”

        • ildi

          Much more elegantly put!

    • Michael Murray

      Those petroleum companies make a fortune using absurdly simple computer models to find oil and gas.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      A useful counter-example to the ‘money wins’ argument is the scientist who demonstrated that some ulcers are germ-caused, and can be cured. The moneyed establishment for ulcer palliatives attacked his work, so he used his own body as a demonstration and stuck his thumb in their eye with pretty irrefutable data:

      (Update: I didn’t realize they won the Nobel Prize for the discovery…)

      • Chuck Johnson

        The treatment using antibiotics had been known to John Lykoudis since 1958.

        It was known to me years ago when I went to the doctor to get my chronic stomach ache treated.
        I had a bleeding ulcer.
        She was a young doctor who had no idea what to do.
        When I suggested that it might be an opportunistic infection caused by H Pylori, she prescribed antibiotics and the problem went away.

        The original problem was iatrogenic.
        I had been taking lamotrigine (Lamictal).

      • Chuck Johnson

        Yours is an example of the scientific consensus being wrong.
        This often happens when the scientific consensus is led by money and politics.
        Too much of this is present in the healthcare industry in the USA.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The scientific consensus *was* what it was because the pharma industry refused to fund such studies, and attacked any such studies that were published.

          THAT is astroturfing scientific ‘consensus’, not the real deal…it’s starving free inquiry because it 69gores a plutocrat’s ox.

        • John Logan

          Scientific consensus supported eugenics and the murder of the disabled.

        • Greg G.

          When did the scientific consensus support eugenics? Maybe you are thinking of the consensus of eugenicists that supported eugenics.

        • John Logan

          Eugenicists were largely biologists, sociologists and psychiatrists, they had widespread support till World War II, guilt by association and all that.

        • Greg G.

          It wouldn’t matter if all eugenicists were scientists. Your claim was that eugenics was the scientific consensus. You need to show a general agreement among scientists to support your claim.

          All first degree murderers are human. That does not mean that the consensus of humans favors murder.

        • John Logan

          It was. This scientific consensus started to weaken in the 40s.

        • Greg G.

          Have you ever looked up the word “consensus”? It means a general agreement, which means a vast majority of the science community in this case.

          This scientific consensus started to weaken in the 40s.

          It had support from people who thought corn flakes were health food. The ncbi article you linked says:

          It wasn’t until 1935 that a review panel convened by the Carnegie Institution concluded that the Eugenics Research Office research did not have scientific merit, and subsequently withdrew funding in 1939.

        • John Logan

          Yes, I know, dissenters on eugenics were rare prior to World War II. Your own source state support only dwindled shortly before the war broke out, the consensus had been weakening for a short time before that.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t believe you.

          Show me reputable sources.

        • John Logan
        • Nope. Eugenics is a policy. Politicians make policy; scientists do science.

        • John Logan

          Eugenics is based on a specific view of human biology, reproduction, society and so on. Many scientists have been involved in public policy. If you think they confided themselves to science I suggest you read about Alexis Carrel or Konrad Schäfer. Ever heard of the Doctors’ trial?

        • Greg G.

          Many scientists are not a consensus. That could be a tiny minority. You need to show that the vast majority of scientists held that view.

          Or you could retract your statement.

        • John Logan

          Such scientists faced virtually no opposition in Western Europe till the late 90s, except attacks from the Far Right and Christian Fundamentalists.

        • Michael Neville

          That is complete bullshit. The eugenics movement in the U.S. and most other Western countries slowly lost favor over time and was
          waning by the start of World War II. When the horrors of Nazi Germany became apparent, as well as Hitler’s use of eugenic principles to justify the atrocities, eugenics lost all credibility as a field of study or even an ideal that should be pursued. Eugenics was dead in the late 1940s.

          Learn some history, boy. You’re trying to bullshit people who do know history.

        • John Logan

          It waned in big part due to World War II, it is true that it appears to have had its high point in the late 20s though.
          But I said that the scientists who supported paedophilia faced little opposition till the late 90s, which they didn`t. Have you studied the history of paedophilia in Western Europe?

        • Greg G.

          You still have not shown that a consensus of scientists have supported anything you claim they supported. A consensus means general agreement.

          In this comment, you gave two links:

          The first one shows that there was never a scientific consensus on eugenics. It was primarily a Nazi thing and they were never even near a majority, let alone a consensus.

          The first paragraph of the second article begins like the first but then there’s a pay wall.

        • Michael Neville
        • John Logan

          I thought this was pretty universally known. Look up the doctors who participated in the T4 program, or those who advocated for forced sterilisation, Buck vs Bell, or the eugenics in Sweden or even the support enjoyed by the Kinsey institute which was tied to SS officer Fritz von Balluseck.

        • Michael Neville

          If that guess on your part was “universally known” then you wouldn’t have several of us doubting it. Buck v Bell was not based on the scientific consensus but on prejudice. The T4 project was part of the Holocaust. If you’re claiming the murder of millions of people was supported by the scientific consensus then you’re even more ignorant and deluded than I previously thought you were (and I don’t have a very high opinion of your knowledge as it is). Von Balluseck (you neglected to mention Rex King, another pedophile) was both a Gestapo officer and a pedophile. If you’re claiming pedophilia is part of the scientific consensus then it’s quite obvious that (a) you have no clue what the word “consensus” means or (b) you a shit-stirring troll.

          So which are you, delusionally ignorant or a troll? Note those choices are not mutually exclusive.

        • John Logan

          Here is a petition for the legalisation of paedophilia in the Netherlands by abolishing the age of consent:

          Read all of the scientific groups that signed. The Kinsey Institute has long normalised paedophilia yet they have worked closely with the WHO and the UN.

        • Michael Neville

          That you can find pedophiles trying to gain support for their activities says nothing about the scientific consensus. It’s been known for years that the Kinsey Institute generally and Kinsey himself did some “unusual” and even criminal activities. That says nothing about the scientific consensus.

          More and more I’m becoming convinced that you’re an ignorant, delusional troll. Prove me wrong.

          EDIT TO ADD I notice that you’ve shifted from eugenics to pedophilia. Why is that?

        • John Logan

          Again petitions to legalise paedophilia got signed by entire organisations of psychologists, philosophists, sociologists and so on.
          Kinsey`s work has been influental in sexualogy, psychology and so on for over half a century. A more critical view of it has only recently become more mainstream.
          I`d say petitions to legalise paedophilia beign signed by the majority of medical authorities in a given Western European country should prove you wrong.

        • Greg G.

          But why have you changed the subject? Are you trying to say that pedophilia is a scientific consensus?

          Are you using words you don’t understand?

        • John Logan

          I merely responded to his assertion that paedophilia did not receive mainstream support in the scientific community, it did. Overwhelmingly so,

        • Michael Neville

          No, you’ve ASSERTED that pedophilia receives “mainstream support in the scientific community.” I think you’re lying out of your rosy red rectum with that claim. Why do I think that? Because I don’t believe that the scientific community supports something which is illegal in almost all countries and is generally considered immoral.

        • John Logan

          If it didn`t receive mainstream support than why did so many organisations of doctors and mental health workers fight to have it legalised? Paedophilia was legal in the Netherlands from 1991 till 2002 in as much as the age of consent became 12, though many mental health experts wanted the age of consent abolished entirely, child pornography was legal in Denmark from the late 60s till 1980, paedophilia wasn`t considered immoral then actually. In the UK there was a strong push to lower the age of consent to even 10. In West Germany the Green Party, Humanist groups, LGBT groups, the Lutheran Church and even the Liberals tried to legalise paedophilia.

        • Michael Neville

          Now you’re just straight out lying. You’re blocked for your dishonesty and your fascination with pedophilia.

        • John Logan

          Opposing paedophilia is a fascination with paedophilia? You`re sick. I stated facts, if you wanna deem that lying and dishonesty then go ahead. I provided you with facts. Read the bloody petition please.

        • John Logan
        • Greg G.

          You provided no support for your claim.

        • John Logan

          I provided proof of the widespread support for paedophilia prior to the late 90s.

        • Michael Neville

          I just have your word for that and your word has become a worthless commodity ever since I caught you in the lie that eugenics “faced virtually no opposition in Western Europe till the late 90s.”

        • John Logan

          I provided you the petition, how is that my word? I said that paedophilia faced little opposition in Western Europe prior to the late 90s, eugenics prior to the late 30s.

        • Michael Neville

          One small organization promoting changes in laws to allow pedophilia does not equate to pedophilia facing “little opposition in Western Europe”. I’m done with you. You’re dishonest, you’re trying to gaslight me, and you have way too much interest in raping children.

        • John Logan

          In the Netherlands advocates for paedophilia included:

          The Instituut voor Preventieve en Sociale Psychiatrie Erasmusuniversiteit
          Prof. Dr. C.J.B.J. Trimbos, namens bovenvermeld instituut
          Prof. Dr. M. Zeegers, hoogleraar forensische psychiatrie RU Leiden
          Prof. Dr. J.H. Dijkhuis, hoogleraar psychotherapie RU Utrecht
          Prof. Dr. C. van Emde Boas, psychiater, psychotherapeut
          Dr. W.J. Sengers, sociaal-psychiater
          Dr. R.C. Hoekstra, psychiater, psycho-analyticus Dr S. van Mesdagkliniek Groningen
          Dr. F. van Ree, psychiater, opleidingszenuwarts en psychotherapeut
          J.R. Maas, zenuwarts
          Dr. B.S. Witte, directeur Ned. Instituut voor Sociaal Sexuologisch Onderzoek

          Subfaculteit opvoedkunde Universiteit van Amsterdam
          Vakgroep prekandidaatsopleiding subfaculteit psychologie Universiteit van Amsterdam
          Vereniging voor Studenten in de Psychologie, Amsterdam
          Prof. Dr. H.A. Hutte, oud-hoogleraar sociale psychologie RU Groningen
          J. Th. Snijders, hoogleraar psychologie RU Groningen
          Dr. W. Everaard, lector klinische psychologie RU Utrecht
          E.J. Zwaan, lector klinische pedagogiek, ouder A. van Naerssen, hoofdmedewerker instituut klinische psychologie RU Utrecht
          14 anderen

        • Michael Neville

          Throwing a bunch of names in a language I’m unfamiliar with is meaningless. I have no idea of who any of these people or any of the institutions are or even if they exist. “Dr. Augustus Buttmunch of the Arglebargle Institute of Higher Thinkology disagrees with you.”

          But I continue to notice that you’re pushing pedophilia hard. Is it a special topic of interest to you?

        • John Logan

          Dutch is very similar to English. Do you want me to translate it for you?
          The groups that signed the petition included:
          The subfaculty of pedagogy at the university of Amsterdam, the Union of psychology students Amsterdam, E.J. Zwaan leading authority at the instititute of clincal psychology in Utrecht, the gay rights groups COC, Red Faggots, (yes they called themselves that, Orpheus, and 5 different political parties including Labour, Pacifist Socialist Party, Political Party of Radical, Democrats 66 and Democratic Socialists 70.
          Yes it is, I grew up in the Netherlands when this was pretty much at its high point, I know many paedophilia victims, have advocated against the social acceptance of paedophilia, and fought to out paedophiles. One teacher of LGBT studies rejected the notion of the so called sexual liberty of children instead openly preaching that forcing children into sex was okay, he is called Gert Hekma, we had a senator who was an open paedophile.
          Incidentally we were the first country to legalise gay marriage and voluntary euthanasia, we are liberal on drugs and prostitution as well as on sex education. Our sex education, (which is provided in big part by the Rutgerstichting which signed that petition to legalise paedophilia), is celebrated by the Left worldwide. The irony.

        • Michael Neville
        • John Logan

          Are you conflating the Netherlads in the 2010s with 20 years earlier now? Are you a troll?
          Martijn was mainstream during the 80s and early 90s. They supported petitions to legalise paedophilia but at the time these received widespread support. I will give you the link again.

        • John Logan

          Have you ever interviewed psychiatrists or doctors on issues such as paedophilia? I have listened to stories regarding how paedophilia used to be considered a normal sexual orientation a just few decades ago. Having a sister and brother in law who are doctors helps with these things. I have written reports on paedophilia and its influence in my country. Did you know paedophiles could talk about how paedophilia was good on public telivision?

        • smrnda

          Eugenics and the murder of the disabled and political positions.

          But I’ll deal with a similar issue. To support imperialism, slavery and segregation, quite a number of ‘experts’ tried to find ways to ‘prove’ that certain races were inferior. When we look at their work today, we see shoddy pseudo science on the level of the ‘four humors’ or other such primitive nonsense. There was no legitimate science there.

          First, we should admit that the scientific method is a pretty recent thing, and it’s even more recently that it’s become a rigorous thing.

          Second, scientists are only human beings who share the same biases as everyone else. There was a time when being gay was listed as mental disorder. Eventually, psychiatrists came to admit that this was only due to social prejudice, and they also realized the danger of using social standards of ‘normal’ to determine things like whether something is a mental illness. Today, cognitive and social psychologists study biases. Studies are designed to take into account these biases.

        • John Logan

          The scientific method has been a thing for centuries. It has been rigorous for many generations now. There was extensive research regarding racial biology, at least some of it is still accurate. If you want to dismiss all that you cannot rely on scientific consensus as an authority. Homosexuality was only declassified as a mental dissorder because: 1. The fraudulent “research” of Kinsey who told parents to rape their children, 2. violent protests by the homosexual community.
          Are you familiar with the fake studies on White privilege, which were intentional forgeries, which got peer reviewed and approved because they confirmed certain politically correct biases?

      • Michael Murray

        Bloody oath mate. We’ve not won many. But that’s one of them

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t care what the Noo Zilunders say, Oz is good for something.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Edifying post, thanks.

      • smrnda

        The site also is very much against government regulations of industry or things like carbon taxes on principal. These are, if you will, articles of faith with the writers, who also see a Marxist conspiracy behind anything they don’t like. If they wanted to complain about biases, they haven’t addressed their own. One could say they adhere to a religion, and don’t like scientific facts that might contradict their religion.

        However, I’m not seeing any actual ‘here is a study and we found some errors’. There are many people who have demonstrated flaws in scientific studies, sometimes other academics, other times it’s just people who happen to know enough about stats to read the studies and understand the data. That’s what happened to the Regnerus study, that supposedly showed bad outcomes for children raised by same sex couples. The data didn’t support the hypothesis. The study was retracted, and it also become known that it was basically underwritten by a Christian organization looking to build an anti-GLTBQ case.

        And some of the people brought down had pretty big reputations. Brain Wansink was a very respected researcher into how consumers made choices about eating and food. Even governments used his research to set public policy. He was eventually discredited, despite getting a position at the USDA and numerous awards and grants.

        So if global warming was some ridiculous hoax, we would have the body of research we do. Certain studies have been contested, but it’s not a question of ‘is it happening’ but more ‘how bad are things getting, and how fast.’

        • Michael Murray

          If they wanted to complain about biases, they haven’t addressed their own.

          If only someone had told them

          And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower


          Well done 😉

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “I agree, but how do we know? Because, and only because, it’s now the consensus!”

    Nope. we KNOW because it has been TESTED and TESTED again. The predictions made by the theory been supported by direct observation. Same goes for climate change.

    OTOH Chamberland supports HIS views with ‘feelings’, talk about a snowflake.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yes, any appeal to consensus is equally an appeal to how the consensus was formed. Unfortunately for those upset that scientific consensus hurts their feelings, this isn’t helpful for their arguments.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower


        The *how* is just as important as the resulting consensus.

        • Brian Curtis

          This is a point that’s often overlooked by science-deniers who love to complain about scientific consensus. No, science isn’t DONE by consensus. However, consensus IS the result of good science.

  • zenmite

    an Ohio bill would require that religious answers (rather than, y’know, accurate answers) on public school tests be acceptable.

    Where was this wonderful idea when I was in public school? “I’m sorry teacher, my religion does not allow me to do trig or calculus.” “The correct answer to all scientific questions is “God did it”.

    • Carol Lynn

      We had a Christian zealot to dinner on Thanksgiving who thought that the separation of church and state was a bad thing. He teaches math at a Catholic school so he wasn’t sure how that law would apply in his classes, but he was all for it in history and science classes. He said and I quote, “If God Almighty was to come down, reveal himself to everyone, and say without any possibility of doubt that he created the universe, we still would not be allowed to teach that in schools, and that’s terrible,” I replied, “Why don’t we wait until that happens and revisit the issue than rather than anticipating it? Besides, it has no explanatory power. The most it could take up would be a few minutes of the first class. Ok, god created everything, now let’s go to science to examine and figure out the how.” He was not very amused. I didn’t particularly care.

      • Michael Neville

        Every fervent theist should thank their god for separation of church and state. In Britain from the time of Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) until 1864 Catholics were not allowed to be members of Parliament. The official religions in Indonesia are Islam, Christianity (split between Catholic and Protestant), Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. No Jewish synagogues, Sikh gurdwaras or Jain temples are permitted to be built in Indonesia even though Jews, Sikhs and Jains live there. During American colonial times Roger Williams established Rhode Island because he was a fugitive from justice in Massachusetts. His crime was being a Baptist.

        Every theist arguing for elimination of separation of church and state assumes that either their specific religion will be the established church or will be tolerated. I’ve met a fundamentalist Calvinist who stated flatly that if he could he would force convert all Catholics on pain of death. Does your Catholic acquaintance want to be in that Calvinist’s theocracy?

      • Otto

        If some other religion got power in gov’t I am guessing he would change his mind rather quickly. I am also sure he is rather happy that the gov’t is not allowed to intervene in his church.

      • Michael Murray

        Just wait until someone asks him if 3 equals 1. What is he going to say then ?

    • No, I’m afraid … wait a minute–what I meant to say is, “Yes, that’s correct.”

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
  • abb3w

    Chamberland might handwave, “But Einstein was right with Relativity!” I agree, but how do we know? Because, and only because, it’s now the consensus!

    …not only because — though that’s helpful.

    However, if one is determined, some of the experiments to validate the underlying ideas can be done individually. The Michelson–Morley experiment springs to mind. If you’re very lucky or willing to do a bit of travel, solar gravitational lensing is also observable. The old PBS series “The Ring of Truth” was largely about such validation of various principles of physics. The show found that “E=mc-squared” is impractical to test directly (although I’m not sure if this is covered in the show, or only in the associated book). The most practical “home” scale experiment I know of involves measure of mass defect in tritium decay, which relies on results of several other (marginally home-practical) experiments (including the Millikan oil drop and an experiment for calculating Avogadro’s number), requires (last I heard) a couple grand in experimental hardware, is exceedingly fiddly in terms of procedure, and involves playing with tritium — which is hard to purchase in quantity and is not safe for the careless.

    Nonetheless, for some of us it’s not only the consensus that supports the conclusion.