"Science Is Not Democratic." Who Knew?
New Scientist reports on a survey of particle physicists, revealing "mixed feelings about whether the long-sought Higgs boson will ever point the way to new theories, but renewed optimism that the mysterious stuff that makes up most of the universe's matter will show us the way." The survey, canvasing just 50 scientists, was conducted by Luis Ibanez of the Autonomous University of Madrid, who had an interesting comment.
Fifty scientists isn't many, he admitted:
Of course, with just a small fraction of particle physicists represented in the survey, results must be taken with a pinch of salt. "This kind of discussion gives ideas on what to pursue," says Ibanez, but he cautions that consensus is not necessarily the route to discovery. "Science is not democratic. Very often the one who is correct is in a minority."
So the truth of a scientific proposition -- say, the Darwinian theory of evolution -- is not, after all, decided by a count of heads? The majority, the precious "consensus" we hear so much about, may be wrong after all, while the minority may be vindicated in the end?