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    Should We Trust Experts?
    By Sascha Vongehr | July 19th 2011 04:37 AM | 41 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    In Science Could Have It all Wrong, Ethan comes to the conclusion that we should all trust the experts. The most controversial bit is surely where he takes the impressive successes of modern cosmology to be a good reason to trust experts on topics like global warming. Some bad guy put the following outrageous commentary:


    Experts do not fall from the sky, they are selected by a self-reinforcing, thereby emergent establishment which one cannot join without subscribing to certain highly questionably core beliefs in the first place.

    I did not have to be a GR expert yet to mistrust the consensus against emergent gravity for example already many years ago, I only needed to look at how the consensus was defended in order to know that the experts were not basing their opinion on expertise. And so it goes with much of what has been/is told by medical experts (nutrition/drugs/...) and in other areas directly relevant to people. With all this in mind and given the financial and political stakes involved in global warming/GMO/ ..., given that human perception is ridiculously selective and under the guide of rationalization plus that the experts in any field do belong to a certain group or even class, how can one tell people to just trust experts?

    We do whenever experts agree with our opinion and the persons addressed are judged too silly to get to the same opinion.


    Establishment conspiracy? Who is right? Maybe we can attain a clearer perspective by looking not at emotionally laden issues like vaccines/autism, climate change, or say experts on nuclear reactors. Many are certain that politics plays no role in the exact sciences, say physics. Let me not get into the history, which would involve climbing a mountain of wrong expert consensus, but stay with two current issues that are going through a revolution as we speak; you know - just making sure that all you well-that’s-all-in-the-past wishful thinkers may sober up.



    The Dawn of Quantum Biology [1] claims that biological systems exploiting quantum processes are a revolutionary new discovery by experts, completely unexpected. Establishment “experts” told us that such is totally impossible [2] in warm and wet biological systems, because quantum superposition decays in mere femto seconds. Now, experts write stuff like:


    striking evidence that ... superposition states persist for more than 400 [femto seconds] after photo-excitation. It is remarkable that electronic coherence spans ... over a distance of 25 Å. [3]

     

    Quantum Control and Entanglement in a Chemical Compass [4] increased this to 10 nano seconds, and Sustained Quantum Coherence and Entanglement in the Avian Compass [5] makes now almost a whopping millisecond (!) out of it:


    In summary the reported sensitivity to rf fields implies that both amplitude and phase (and thus entanglement) are indeed protected within the avian compass. The time scales are at least tens of microseconds even for a pure dephasing environment, and hundreds of microseconds for the more general models.


    How some birds may see earth’s magnetic field by exploiting quantum coherence between two radical molecules of up to hundreds of micro seconds.


    The funny thing is: We are told that nobody could have possibly foreseen such and all those that have proposed it all along (in this case people like H. P. Stapp, S. R. Hameroff, or R. Penrose to name just the famous ones) go unmentioned. We are not told that those who always held the connection between consciousness and quantum physics highly likely for extremely good reasons, are simply not included into the circle of experts on these topics!


    Let’s take another example, namely emergent gravity. Finally it seems that one may come out of the closet and confess to hold it likely that relativity theory is not fundamental but an emergent symmetry, something that is indicated since like, well, actually all along. One newer version of emergent gravity is Eric Verlinde’s, which Eric explains in this interesting talk on the recent Strings 2011 conference, thereby proving that emergent gravity has arrived and is granted access onto the big stage.


    I wrote already about something similar here, so let me just copy again:


    The irony is: In twenty years or so we will hear the usual elitist crap about that “nobody could have foreseen”, or “as the relevant literature clearly shows, even the brightest did not expect, maybe could not have possibly envisioned” … . There is a book about emergent gravity coming out soon; it starts similarly about that “the philosophical discourse was taken by surprise by the recent advent of emergent gravity …”. Yeah, right, if the “philosophical discourse” is defined by people who a century after Einstein already understood the so called “Hole Problem”, still write about it being a problem while killing anything about emergent gravity via “peer review” and “editing”, then of course “the philosophical discourse was taken by surprise”.


    That was ranting about the philosophical discourse, but working on emergent gravity was and some places still is also immediate career suicide in the realm of physics proper. If you did not already have a very safe position, you could not admit to, let alone publish anything on emergent relativity. In other words again: Having an opinion that does not conform to the establishment consensus means not to get access to the circle of experts in the first place!


    Opinion labeled as expertise is only one aspect of it. Moreover, a rewriting of history goes along with it, neglecting all those sane voices that based their opposition to the established consensus on their actual expertise. You do not hear any apology to the many as ether-crackpots rejected people who lost their careers over the years during the reign of the relativity-is-fundamental doctrine.


    This whitewashed presentation of history is how the elites want to spare themselves embarrassment but also, perhaps unconsciously, want to ensure conformity: Even while knowing that they do not have the truth, we are supposed to believe that only the officially labelled "experts" alone are clever enough to find out the improved truth and that if we instead look at anybody not being granted official expert status, we will only find silly stuff that is yet more wrong, much more wrong than the little tiny bit of detail that the experts may be still missing.


    We are to believe that the experts have the best approximation to the truth, which is the only truth we may hope to attain. In reality, the experts have first and foremost one thing: Attained a position of power where they may call themselves experts.


    ---------------------------------------------


    [1] Philip Ball: Nature 474, 272-274 (2011)

    [2] M. Tegmark: “Importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes.” Phys Rev E 61(4), 4194 (2000)

    [3] Collini, Elisabetta, Wong, Cathy Y., Wilk, Krystyna E., Curmi, Paul M. G., Brumer, Paul,&Scholes, Gregory D.: “Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature.” Nature 463(7281), 644-647 (2010) DOI:10.1038/nature08811

    [4] Jianming Cai, Gian Giacomo Guerreschi, and Hans J. Briegel Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 220502(2010)

    [5] Erik M. Gauger, Elisabeth Rieper, John J. L. Morton, Simon C. Benjamin, and Vlatko Vedral: Phys.Rev. Lett. 106(4), 040503 (2011)

    Comments

    Good example from quantum biology .
    Science gave us germ warfare, pesticides, cancer causing chemicals and 25 years of climate change fear mongering. I'm not the only one calling prosecuters for justice to be done and have you abusers of science charged for this needless panic of climate blame. Scientists are not to be trusted. You lab coat consultanats will be cursed in history for this climate crime of climate change.

    Maybe we can attain a clearer perspective by looking not at emotionally laden issues like vaccines/autism, climate change, or say experts on nuclear reactors.
    Imagine how angry mememine69 would be if Sascha had used global warming as an example....

    Science gave us germ warfare, pesticides, cancer causing chemicals and 25 years of climate change fear mongering.

    But is it rational to ignore other things that came from science like drinking -water treatment, sewage treatment, anesthesia, electricity, light bulbs, penicillin---not to mention an understanding of the world not based on superstition but on experimentation?

    By the way:
    (1) germ warfare is rarely used. Historically, far more people have been killed by blades and arrows.
    (2)There are many naturally occurring substances that cause cancer, such as tobacco smoke and to a lesser extent heavy use of alcohol. And many cancers are not caused by chemicals at all--- melanoma, for one.
    (3) The possibility--or reality-- that some have resorted to fear mongering does not change the fact that certain gases act as invisible blankets, letting light through but trapping some heat in the atmosphere.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're a fool that clearly can't differentiate the areas of responsibility and are even more foolish for suggesting that "prosecutors" are more trustworthy.  Such naivete is truly a marvel to behold.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rick Ryals
    Oh man, great article.  Now THIS is a subject that's worth discussing!

    The most controversial bit is surely where he takes the impressive successes of modern cosmology to be a good reason to trust experts on topics like global warming.

    What a crank!

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0705.2462
    Lamda CDM cosmology: how much suppression of credible evidence, and does the model really lead its competitors, using all evidence?

    http://knol.google.com/k/the-anthropic-principle#
    Contrary to popularized modern and "variant" interpretations, the Anthropic Principle was originally formalized by Carter as an ideological statement against the dogmatic non-scientific prejudices that scientists commonly harbor that cause them to consciously deny anthropic relevance in the physics, so they instead tend to be willfully ignorant of just enough pertinent facts to maintain an irrational cosmological bias that leads to absurd, "Copernican-like" projections of mediocrity that contradict what is actually observed. 
    Gerhard Adam
    We are to believe that the experts have the best approximation to the truth, which is the only truth we may hope to attain. In reality, the experts have first and foremost one thing: Attained a position of power where they may call themselves experts.
    You make a good and important point, but I would also be cautious of suddenly making it open season for every crackpot to claim legitimacy on this basis, which is invariably what happens.   Every individual develops a worldview (or belief system) based on a particular knowledge that will shape what they find acceptable or not.  As a result, the expert is no different in forming such a view based on their understanding and experience. 

    The posturing that you're referring to is probably more a consequence of having careers than anything intrinsic in being an "expert" since it seems to occur at all levels and in all fields.  We are not surprised that most areas of human endeavor are populated by a vast pool of mediocrity with a few individuals capable of achieving excellence.  However, it seems that when we go into the scientific or professional realsm, we expect this trend to be different.  In reality, I would expect that most scientists, doctors, etc. are probably mediocre and will never achieve anything of real substance.  As a result, we should not be surprised that most "expertise" consists of entrenched interests that are not easily swayed.  This could be the result of intellectual laziness, incompetence,  experiencing a career threat, or actually being right. 

    The point being that "expertise" is a concept we acknowledge in others and it is ultimately an individual's responsibility to establish how much credence such an individual is given.  If we all engage in more critical and evidence-based thinking, then I suspect we'll find that such "expertise" loses much of its power.  I do realize that within certain groups that power may be used to stifle others and to slow the acceptance of new ideas, but that phenomenon is actually political and, unfortunately, is simply a byproduct of human organization.

    In the end it doesn't matter if the "expert" is a tribal shaman, a military leader, a CEO, or a PhD physicist.  Each experiences a vested interest in retaining power and will not easily concede any part of that power to new ideas (or individuals).
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    Yes yes, but maybe you did not quite get the main turning point of my article: The ongoing direct selection is only one aspect; the selective presentation even afterward is what pisses off! Scientists and so called philosophers, not politicos or business men, of whom one would expect no different, present a history of science that seems as if the expert consensus monotonically advances asymptotically to the truth while all else is just a swamp they safe us from.
    With this arrogant deception in place, how can one trust such an elite?
    suddenly making it open season for every crackpot
    Well, with the Quantum Randi Challenge stuff I got rid of crackpot readers (some even de-friended me, cry cry), but some establishment snobs seem to have gotten the wrong message. It is high time for another anti-establishment article to get rid of them, too. Don't want the blog to become too popular, which always indicates meaningless drivel. The strategy is to have in every five subsequent articles at least one thing for anybody to find so absolutely disagreeable that they resolve not to read anything of mine ever again. ;-)
    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    Experts must be independent. Otherwise they are advocates.
    Hank
    There are no independent experts.   Scientists are funded by the government or funded by corporations.   The public does not trust academia to be independent and academics don't trust corporate scientists to be independent.    

    We can claim to be the only science site worth reading because we are independent, though those writing for billion-dollar media companies disagree.  Generally, it is the nature of humans to rationalize choices they make as being correct ones, even if they would be skeptical if they were analyzing the actions of others.
    "I only needed to look at how the consensus was defended in order to know that the experts were not basing their opinion on expertise."

    In reality, I would expect that most scientists, doctors, etc. are probably mediocre and will never achieve anything of real substance.
    It would be more accurate to state that "most scientists, doctors etc" are close to the middle of their respective bell curves and so although competent, they don't make outstanding contributions to their fields. To say that they "will never achieve anything of real substance'' undermines the necessary everyday work they do.
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm not sure why you think that undermines their necessary everyday work.  This occurs in jobs and careers all over the world.  Within the context of this article, we have to be careful in how we consider someone to be  an "expert"
    Mundus vult decipi
    Andrew Wakefield was a respected British gastroenterologist who began research into digestive problems in autistic children in collaboration with other doctors in the UK, after being called by parents seeking help. His work indicated severe digestive issues and he asked for more investigation of the MMR vaccine.

    Brian Deer is the reporter who savaged Dr Wakefield from the pages of the Sunday Times, a paper managed by Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch who is on the board of GlaxoSmithKline which makes the MMR. Deer researched his case with the help of Medico-Legal Investigations a private enquiry company whose only source of funding is the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Deer was both the journalist writing on Wakefield and the person to bring a case of fitness to practice medicine to the General Medical Council, and then wrote about the proceedings as well. Parents whose children were treated by Wakefield were denied the right to be heard before a real court on claims against the vaccine manufacturers. The High Court judge who denied them was Sir Nigel Davis, whose brother is an executive board member of Elsevier, publishers of the Lancet which removed Wakefield's paper on the subject, published in 1998, and is on the Board of GlaxoSmithKline.

    With the London Times given Brian Deer free reign to attack Wakefield, media closed in like shark. Coincidentally, the head of Reuters serves on the Board of Merck, and Miriam Stoppard who writes at the Daily Mirror Newspaper is married to Sir Christopher Hogg, who was Chairman of GlaxoSmith Kline un 2004. Dr Kumar, the Chairman of the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel who ruled against Dr Andrew Wakefield, would not answer questions about his shareholdings in GlaxoSmithKline, and said there was no such thing as vaccine damage as well as saying that any parents who claimed that their children had suffered such, would be treated with scorn and contempt

    Dear Joe89,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post this information. As I am sure you know very well, there is much, much more information just like that you have posted, surrounding situations in which little-understood phenomena are dismissed by powerfully connected people, or by interest groups on behalf of industries.

    To even mention the names of these taboo subjects is often a career killer for journalists, or academics, or young people hoping to build a career in business or government. The amazing Randi, for example pretends to offer a reward for any proof of anomalous phenomena, but when confronted with scrupulously obtained data he refuses to consider it or to acknowledge receipt. Data collected by Dean Radin on precognition has been reproduced in numerous labs, yet Randi refuses to discuss it. This video shows some of this data. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FyxjKQDwYY .

    Thanks again.

    Bob

    Gerhard Adam
    What are you babbling about?  You complain that these "taboo subjects" are career killers and then provide a link that shows a television program with discussions by theoretical physicists? 

    More to the point, your claim of precognition is grossly overstated and nothing of the sort has ever been proposed, except for fanciful speculations.  It is intuitively obvious that precognition CANNOT exist, since that would require absolute determinism.  While we know that the general level of experience is deterministic enough (which is what allows us to make predictions), precognition makes no sense by any definition. 

    In other words, you can't even define precognition philosophically, let alone physically.
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    precognition CANNOT exist, since that would require absolute determinism
    Determinism (fate) is what many precognition believers assume. Even quantum totality is a complete (multi world) determinism. In case there is a non-standard "mangling" of small Born-probability worlds plus interference between possibilities extended to different times being no more than different possibilities, ... I mean if I now really wanted to annoy you and have had a stronger coffee this morning ... and given that the precognition is only claimed to be somewhat above chance ...
    Gerhard Adam
    given that the precognition is only claimed to be somewhat above chance ...
    I don't think there's any question that we can employ predictions based on existing knowledge as well as probabilities.  However, in the sense of "precognition" that would represent a trivial explanation and be significantly less than the point of possessing "future sight".  While we may disagree on the specific meaning of precognition, the way it is normally presented is significantly above chance, since it implies "knowing" which is a rather explicit condition.

    More to the point, precognition doesn't just involve determinism, but it also involves the acquisition of information without observation. 


    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    Can't watch the video linked and maybe don't know what claims of precognition usually involve. I saw some of those papers that made it into peer review once and my criticism would not deny determinism but simply that the experiments and statistics were naive. The comment criticized the amazingly into himself Randi. The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has been criticized even by skeptics as too biased; at one point challengers had to first be endorsed by some university scientist. Lets imagine we do not yet know quantum physics and some alternative folks by chance discover the EPR setup (using highly diluted light and Alice and Bob and all that). Given classical special relativity physics, this could be misunderstood in terms of "precognition" (at least telling the future). I find it utterly conceivable that established scientists as well as the JREF would find plenty excuses to decline a look at the data.
    And it is fine actually - there has to be selection of course and it can go wrong. What drives people like the commenter angry is the smugness of those Randi skeptic types and establishment scientists who think themselves so amazing. Same with my article - I do not so much criticize that there is always selection that goes wrong or that we simply are the stupid apes that we are, but the rewriting/misrepresentation of what is going on in order to appear flawless after fucking people over due to plain silliness goes too far. I have yet to hear a single of those skeptic-type astrophysicists and science-philosophers etc come forward and apologize for turning relativity into a religious doctrine and being in general smug asshats that do not understand relativity theory properly. On one hand "explaining" inertia as particles going through a honey like Higgs field and on the other calling anybody who uses ether-toy models naive idiots is a hypocrisy that can only be achieved in religious situations. This is the situation now for almost half a century.
    Gerhard Adam
    Given classical special relativity physics, this could be misunderstood in terms of "precognition" (at least telling the future). I find it utterly conceivable that established scientists as well as the JREF would find plenty excuses to decline a look at the data.
    I agree, but that's why I usually try to be strict about definitions, because I try to avoid making exotic claims with trivial proofs.  Almost everything in science is based on "telling the future", after all, that's what prediction is all about.  It wouldn't do us any good to possess knowledge if we couldn't apply it or direct it in many cases.

    Therefore, I tried to separate such prediction from "precognition" since the latter indicates that I must possess some knowledge that is both specific and also unobserved.   Part of the point is that in "precognition" we are supposed to be able to know something with a better rate than simple probability predicts. If I can't actually be confident in the information obtained in such a fashion, or I do little better than guessing, it doesn't seem worth considering that it represents some sort of extra sense or skill. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Precognition doesn't require absolute determinism, only uncertainty, Bells inequalities. Not randomness. Detrminism can be gradual and shift according to the situation.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's ridiculous.  You can't claim to have knowledge of the future and then argue that it's based on uncertainty.  That's simply guessing, which isn't the argument.  Precognition requires explicit knowledge of an event without have observed it, or without it having occurred yet.  Both require that information be transferred without a mechanism to account for it.  In the latter case, one can't even claim that the information is available yet. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624111942.htm

    "We were able to demonstrate experimentally that quantum mechanical measurements cannot be interpreted in a classical way even when no entanglement is involved," Radek Lapkiewicz
    Therefore, by means of our experience and the assumptions made in classical physics, we can assign certain properties to a system without actually observing it. This is no longer the case if one pictures a "quantum globe." Contrary to a globe where -- due to the assumptions of classical properties -- the various pieces fit together as they do in a puzzle, the pictures of the quantum globe do not fit together. Yet the pattern is not random: it is possible to predict by how much the individual parts will differ from each other after an observation.

    These men will some day get the Nobel.

    We don't know what precognition IS. We only know that there is something we still dont know. Do you really believe in fairies told of exaggerated people? We must find out what it is first.

    I have precognitive dreams, and they come in theta state.Maybe these dreams are quantal dreams?

    Gerhard Adam
    We don't know what precognition IS. We only know that there is something we still dont know.

    I have precognitive dreams, and they come in theta state.Maybe these dreams are quantal dreams?
    So we don't know what precognition is, but you claim to have it.  You can't simply toss out the "we don't know" argument, claim that you possess what you can't define, and then wrap the aura of quantum mechanics around it to create legitimacy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    1) That's a press release, not a study.  Scientists says lots of things in press releases.   2)  It is not true that this experiment cannot be interpreted classically, it would just be silly to do so.   That is a much different thing than what you claim it opens up; magic.
    Hank
    Please see my comment #2 again.   I understand how they framed it and I thought the study was interesting - I wrote about it also and Sascha, the author of this piece, tackled the issue as well - but you have to learn to see through framing by people who are excited about their work and certainly not instead frame science through a cultural agenda you want to achieve.
    According to the experts (at one time):
    The earth was flat. Now it is not.
    Helium was inert. Now it is not.
    One second of time was the same throughout the universe. Now it is not.
    Things can't be in two places at once. Now maybe they can.
    The truth is dependent on time. The truth will be different some time in the future.

    Hank
    Conclusions are drawn from evidence - claiming that because people did not have the evidence to establish a round planet and so they did not because it would be bad science to do so, and therefore all truth is relative is post-modernist bullshit.   
    rholley
    I think a quote from Craig F. Bohren is apposite:
    I must say, however, that I am not opposed to scientific conservatism.  Indeed, it is necessary (although when faced with it myself I chafe and writhe and say bad words).  We forget that many cockeyed ideas that were resisted by the savants of the day – the Establishment is the pejorative term used – are often shown to have been – cockeyed.  Every now and then a rare genius turns out to have had a good idea despite initial resistance to it.  And subsequently, hordes of crackpots try to make capital out of this: Arrhenius was ridiculed, he was right; I am ridiculed, therefore, I, too, am right.  A manifestly faulty syllogism, but one widely appealed to nevertheless.
    I include another of his, because I like it:
    The world was not designed for the convenience of those who frame multiple-choice examinations.

    Both of these quotes are from one of his two popular books:



    or



    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Hank
    But...but... Galileo!  

    Every kook who thinks their crazy speculation will stand the test of time invokes that guy.    The consensus is right most of the time because smart people who know what they are talking about are smart people who know what they are talking about.   Yes, for a while smart people did not know the planet was round - but they did eventually.   No one is ever going to validate post-modernism, though.
    You should listen to Sasha.

    vongehr
    Yes yes, but maybe you did not quite get the main turning point of my article: The ongoing direct selection is only one aspect; the selective presentation even afterward is what pisses off! Scientists and so called philosophers, not politicos or business men, of whom one would expect no different, present a history of science that seems as if the expert consensus monotonically advances asymptotically to the truth while all else is just a swamp they safe us from. Why this deception and how can one trust such an elite?
    It is not about cockeyed ideas either! They should not have made a damn religion out of relativity for example in the first place. There was never a proof of that v>>c violates causality as long as v is relative to a unique reference system (causality is not violated in that case) like say the cosmic background or a tunnel barrier. And just looking at the small amplitude waves on a pond and having a little bit of intuition tells you that SO(1,d-1) symmetry is the most immediate expectation of what would emerge as a low energy symmetry on most any background that can be described by for example solid state physics. I understood such when I was about 18 years old or so, just starting to learn about modern physics and not even knowing solid state examples yet or the thermodynamics of GR (which is the really big indication of emergent relativity), and I do not count myself a genius. How is it that all those "experts" did not see it and suppressed any mentioning of it for almost a century? It is obviously not expertise but group-think and in this case plain group-pressure, because now as the tide turns, all of a sudden loads of people claim, oh yeah, I always thought that way.
    A million bravos! At least someone has the eloquence to spell this out.

    This active amnesia is fascinating cognitive disorder;-). The experimental pioneers of neuroscience discovered already at seventies quantum like effects of ELF em fields on vertebrate brain. All this was put under the rug since the dogma was that EEG was just a random side product of neural activity. There are also the findings of Libet and entire biology is one gigantic collection of anomalies from the point of view of standard physics. But the "biology is nothing but complex chemistry" dogma has prevailed.

    I have been talking for more than 15 years about quantum consciousness and developed detailed models of quantum biology summarized in 8 online books:

    http://tgd.wippiespace.com/public_html/conscbooks.html.

    Establishment has continue to know nothing about the existence of my work. Quite a feat during the era of web and modern communications: people with so weak perceptive abilities are not the best ones for doing research work!

    And suddenly experimentalists are telling that macroscopic quantum effects in living matter come as a complete surprise. And soon everyone is telling that quantum biology is the only thing that one can imagine! What fascinates me at this moment how they will manage to independently discover the hierarchy of Planck constants allowing to understand bio-systems as macroscopic quantum systems giving also the connection with dark matter mystery. Also p-adic physics as physics of cognition is waiting to be independently discovered. And many other fascinating discoveries are there. Just go to my homepage and begin to discover!

    I define an expert as someone who has sufficiently studied some subject to have an opinion that is more useful than the opinion of a random person (usefulness here left undefined). There are plenty of experts who aren't scientists. There are plenty of scientists who are expert in some narrow field and pretty clueless otherwise.

    Defining experts as only those in scientific establishments or from some other anointed group is pretty limiting. But, using my definition of expert, if you can't trust experts, who do you rely upon for advice? Some random man in the street? Those who shout loudest? Those with ready media access?

    Science is a conservative insider's game which often resists new ideas. Almost by definition, ideas become acceptable when the mainstream accepts them. There's some truth in the observation that science advances with the death of each old scientist. Certainly the PR regarding the purity of the Scientific Method is overdone; point to some other organized effort that doesn't have aggressive PR.

    The article sounds like the complaints of someone outside the group. Those with new ideas, especially ones that question some foundational belief, are always initially outsiders. Some are geniuses with insights; others are crackpots. Just how are they to be distinguished? The current system has many flaws, as pointed out, but is the author proposing something to correct it, or just ranting?

    Perhaps all those other idiots aren't clueless. Perhaps revolutionary insights need to be better explained and sold. Sometimes the value of a new idea is patently obvious; sometimes it must be marketed. My colleagues often complain that "they wrote it down and published it, but no one paid attention.:" Just who's at fault there?

    vongehr
    is the author proposing something to correct it, or just ranting?
    1) Since the second main aspect is not direct selection of science but the selective presentation of history of science, "ranting" about the hidden history could be counted as practically doing something about it (i.e. bringing the hidden aspects to the surface).
    2) A bare analysis without solutions is not useless as long as others may be able to draw value from it in their attempts at corrections (or maybe just get triggered to look into the problem, a necessity before one can hope to correct anything). It would certainly be funny to call Niklas Luhmann's work "ranting" just because he analyzed without letting his sharp view be blunted by caring about solutions.
    3) Maybe the author, perhaps much like the just invoked Niklas, does not think that there are solutions to many problems. Would such imply to better be quiet and leave the stage entirely to those who fool us with their ridiculous "solutions" that make everything worse?
    Halliday
    "... that is what science is:  the result of the discovery that it is worthwhile rechecking by new direct experience, and not necessarily trusting the [human] race['s] experience from the past."

    "As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way:  Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."  (Emphasis added.)

    Richard P. Feynman, presented at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, 1966 in New York City, and reprinted from The Physics Teacher Vol. 7, issue 6, 1968, pp. 313-320 by permission of the editor and the author.  [Words and symbols in brackets added by Ralph Leighton.] Wh​at is Science?
    Your attacks on 'philosophers' seem to go fairly wide of the mark. Philosophers (of science) are far less likely to portray the history of science as a relentless procession towards 'the truth' than most physicists are, at least certainly post-Kuhn. In fact a good deal of philosophers are likely to deny that science does anything even like march towards truth.

    Hank
    I didn't think he was attacking philosophers, nor does anyone here, other than the postmodernist kind that affected the field post-Kuhn and which you endorse in your comment.    We have pieces by a fantastic philosophy of science writer here but philosophy in general is overrun by idiots today.  It isn't the only field but if philosophy wants to gets its field back, and not be made fun of by the rest of the world, they need to shuck off the Feyerabend wanna-be's and say something of value once again.
    Hi Hank, sorry for the slow reply!

    I think that one should be careful when talking about philosophers not to over-generalise. For example, I don't believe that every post-Kuhnian Philosopher of Science has been a 'post-modernist', or a Feyerabend-wanna-be. Certainly I wouldn't associate with post-modernism myself, even though I think that both Kuhn and Feyerabend have important messages about science (even if both of them did tend to veer into relativism). Part of the problem is that every time a philosopher hits upon a really good idea, it tends to ascend into a real science, rather than armchair-based speculation.

    Sascha -- I find myself unable to comment on whether philosophers of science are on the money about 'hyperspace foliation' and what-have-you, since my knowledge of relativity theory is limited to popular science books -- though my dream would be to go back and do a physics degree (so please hurry up and invent a time machine).

    Thanks for the replies.

    vongehr
    Yes, you are right, there are those that do not understand science at all and poo poo everything. I do not count them. I was talking about those who rather successfully pretend they know about for example relativity theory (say by starting every text with some shit about hyperspace foliation while not understanding that they should use light cones) and write one text about Einstein and Bohr (like that Don Hank talks about) after the other while actually not understanding. Those are historians and pretentious turds, not philosophers. Philosophers, real philosophers, have it very difficult in academic philosophy.