When it comes to public controversies, a handful of phrases have become de facto “conversation stoppers.” One of these is “scientists say …”
Well, last year, a quantum physicist named John F. Clauser won the Nobel Prize. If anyone has earned the right to make debate-stopping claims about science, it’s a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. However, according to The Washington Post, Clauser does not believe humans are facing imminent extinction due to fossil fuels. This view puts him at odds with what the Post calls the “scientific consensus,” implying that he’s lost all authority as a scientist.
This is the danger of the postmodern habit of making truth claims dependent on the community that makes them. “The science says” isn’t a mic drop if a scientist says something else. Consensus, even scientific consensus, should not shortcut the pursuit of truth. A better and more honest approach is the scientific method, in which our theories and ideas are constantly questioned and tested to discover what is true.
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