Consensus Reality, Part 1

OK, everybody, an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. Everybody agree? Awesome!

‘Rock-solid’ case: Asteroid killed the dinosaurs

An international group of scientists gathered in The Woodlands, TX (a high-income area a little north of Houston – gorgeous Spielberg-suburban wish-fulfillment land) to decide on what killed the dinos. After consulting all the evidence, they have issued a proclamation: it was a big rock from outer space.

Glad we got that cleared up.

The article does go on to mention that of course not every scientist agrees and their work will go on, but there is broad international consensus on the issue now. Uh, OK. I am a firm believer in democracy, but so far as I know reality is not a democratic institution. I am not even saying the scientists are wrong – they may well be right, I haven’t studied the matter closely. However, it seems striking to me for a great body of scientists to get together and agree to paradigm.

My notion of science is much more in line with Karl Popper, who said that are only real knowledge is of that which is false. We can never be 100% sure of our notions about the world, but once something is falsified it’s dead. Given the history of knowledge (and, indeed, the tiny sliver of time representing the history of science itself), this is a more sensible line, I think.