Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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At Last, a Consensus on Consensus

Researchers have finally figured out why those of us in the public who are skeptics on scientific orthodoxies like Darwinism and human-induced global warming choose not to align our views with the scientific "consensus." Science Daily reports:

It is likely to depend on whether the position the scientist takes is consistent with the one believed by most people who share your cultural values.

This was the finding of a recent study conducted by Yale University law professor Dan Kahan, University of Oklahoma political science professor Hank Jenkins-Smith and George Washington University law professor Donald Braman that sought to understand why members of the public are sharply and persistently divided on matters on which expert scientists largely agree.

Isn't that special?  So if you're a Darwin doubter it's not because you've thought through the issue for yourself and come to a heterodox conclusion. You're just a sheep, following what your hick friends and neighbors say.

Notice, however, the utter naïveté of the study and report. Basically, Professor Kahan et al. say that people in the general public tend to count a scientist as an expert if that scientist supports the views of the group the individual belongs to. But they treat the scientists themselves as if they aren't a part of the general public and so don't have the same bias. Apparently, scientists alone are immune to the bias detected in the study that is otherwise unbiquitous.

The implication is that if people were rational, they would simply go with whatever has been officially pronounced as the scientific consensus on an issue. If they were rational, that is, they would dispense with thinking for themselves. Isn't it just this sort of naïveté and undisclosed bias on the part of scientists (and especially science organizations) that makes people doubt claims of consensus in the first place.

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