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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Consensus and Truth

Truth is an interesting thing.

If every intellectual, expert and scientist in the world could be simultaneously brought to consensus by some particular piece of evidence, would that constitute “truth”?

More importantly, how would we know?

The climate change folks attempted to convince us their popular theory has just about that level of consensus. Motherboard ran an article in 2014 that insisted “0.01 Percent of Climate Scientists Reject Global Warming”.

Hey, if only 1/100 of 1% of climate scientists are against global warming, that must mean everybody important is already on board. So break out the sunblock: anyone who disagrees with us must be nuts!

No, really, that would be pretty compelling stuff if it were true. I have serious doubts. Please, Motherboard, define the term “climate scientists”.

Oops. No such luck. Oh well.

Then President Obama tweeted a slightly different figure. His was a 97% consensus. Still impressive, but annoyingly inconsistent. And again, no clarity as to who says this and what their qualifications may be.

But then the Wall Street Journal weighed in. The WSJ has a serious journalistic rep to uphold and felt compelled to actually engage in a bit of investigation and reporting rather than transparent propaganda. Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer thoroughly and utterly dissected the “97% Myth”:
“The ‘97 percent’ figure in the Zimmerman/Doran survey represents the views of only 79 respondents who listed climate science as an area of expertise and said they published more than half of their recent peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Seventy-nine scientists — of the 3,146 who responded to the survey — does not a consensus make.”
In fact, Bast and Spencer point out more than 31,000 scientists, largely physicists and physical chemists, have signed a petition that reads as follows:
“… there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of … carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
Oops and double oops.

Now, I have no overwhelming interest in the climate change debate. Reading the book of Revelation, I have a funny feeling the temperature of the planet is more than a little irrelevant to the Lord’s plans for the human race. But I am totally intrigued at the way a small number of dedicated fanatics have manipulated public opinion, even that of many Christians who all too easily swallow most of what is said by anchormen on NBC or CBS.

My point is that even if you were told 100% of the world’s best and brightest agreed that some particular piece of scientific evidence demonstrated that Christianity is nonsense, how would you know you were not just being “media bamboozled”, as seems to be the case more often than not?

And even if the media accurately reported a genuine consensus instead of distorting the data, that would tell us nothing whatsoever about whether the scientists and experts cited were being truthful; even less about whether they were correct. Both accuracy and honesty have been issues with scientists, particularly in the last 30 years as ethical commitment in every area of life has eroded.

“Consensus” is a meaningless term when it comes from the secular media, and Christians should never be afraid of it.

When you hear there is “scientific consensus” about evolution, the so-called gay gene, gender being merely a “social construct” or anything else, just keep that in mind.

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