In classrooms across the country, high school students are taught the scientific method. It consists of constructing a doubtful hypothesis and designing a series of experiments to test the hypothesis with the observable facts. After a number of tests prove positive. The student can then take the facts and reach a conclusion. When a conclusion is constantly verified, it is enshrined in what might be called “established” science.
There is a second kind of science that uses methods very different from those of “established” science. In fact, this science, if indeed it might be called such, uses the exact opposite method. It consists of constructing a conclusion and then testing that conclusion with a hypothesis that is repeated over and over again using doubtful data to back it up.
The “logic” of this particular scientific method is that the truth of the conclusion is determined by the number of times the hypothesis is affirmed. With enough repetition, even the data starts to take on the appearance of the truth. The secret is to get as many people and media as possible to parrot the great discovery. At a certain point, the conclusion can be enshrined in a special pantheon that might be called “settled” science, and woe betide any “denier” who dare question it.
Like its cousin “settled” law, “settled” science can be useful even outside its field. It can be employed to silence opposition, impose laws and promote political agendas. It respects no rank or positions. August researchers and famous professors can be toppled from their positions if they express the slightest doubts about a “settled” position. Even the strongest evidence is ignored with disdain and disbelief. Meanwhile the hypothesis mantra is just repeated over and over again.
“Settled” science cases abound in today’s politically-correct times. The most obvious one is the dogma of “global warming.” Many old-school scientists have suffered persecution for calling into question the faulty computer models and fudged data associated with this doctrine. They have even shown that the globe is not warming. Flexible “settled” scientists immediately tweaked the hypothesis to speak of “climate change,” and thus cover both sides.
But facts have never been an obstacle to “settled science” promoters who simply dismiss facts and those who bring them up. Climate Statistics Prof. Caleb Rossiter, for example, found his fellowship ‘terminated’ after his Wall Street Journal op-ed declaring “the left wants to stop industrialization — even if the hypothesis of catastrophic, man-made global warming is false.” In another case, a well-loved and respected doctor who specializes in studies about sexual-risk behaviors has just been expelled from an important medical center in Massachusetts after he raised legitimate evidence-based concerns over the center’s decision to endorse the homosexual lifestyle.
A highly qualified scientist in California found scientific evidence that questioned a dogma of evolutionary thought and was fired after publishing his finding in a peer-reviewed journal. These and so many other cases fill the news and intimidate those who seek the truth.
However, there are those rare times when “settled” science runs into trouble and it becomes too obvious that the conclusions are wrong and indefensible. That is the beauty of “settled” science; it can be easily reversed by merely ceasing to repeat the hypothesis. The loud choruses that yesterday blasted forth the “settled” message, today become eerily silent. It is as if the embarrassing conclusion never existed.
An example of this is the “settled” science of peak oil. For decades, “settled” scientists have repeated the hypothesis that oil production will soon reach its peak and humanity will sink into the darkness of an age without fossil fuels.
The only problem is no one told the oil industry. Over the last decade, oil producers have found so much oil that most people agree there are supplies for decades and decades. The evidence can be seen at every gas pump: there is too much oil around, not too little. And so not much is heard from the peak oilers these days. But that is another beauty of “settled” science; the mantra chanters of one conclusion can easily transition to another mantra without any loss of reputation.
The phenomenon of “settled” science is a sad reflection of the frenetic intemperance of these times. The desire to be free from any moral restraint has reached such a point that even the most exacting and absolute sciences must be sacrificed to the tyranny of human passions. Even reality itself must be altered to conform to the agendas of the liberal establishment. Indeed, “settled” science is not science at all but propaganda that is highly unsettling.
As seen on americanthinker.com