Diary entry for March / April, 2012
( Blog for website at http://users.indigo.net.au/don/ )
An excursion to the discussion forum, RationalSkepticism.org
.. earned me a blue card for "insulting" their resident rottweiller (troll). [The relevant section is between pages 249 - 257 ] . In the short period of participation however it seemed to be more of a forum for blood sport, than any productive interchange, and by all indications, likely to remain that way with little value in participation. Evidently it's all right for the rottweiller to snap and growl and try to draw blood, but mention its snarling mien, its foetid breath and clout it on its slavering barking mouth for its trouble, and hear its minders squeal. The tolerance for this canine behaviour incidentally, since it is singular, implies an alter-ego for one who likes to appear more benignly moderate. Evidently we rubbed somebody up the wrong way, .. when it came to their dog.
Which highlights a subtext to this blog, .. that the science is not the issue, .. consensus is.
.. and it is a mistake to think that consensus derives from the science. It doesn't. In its entrenched form it derives from the security of the funding it has gotten used to, .. the rut of mud underfoot that leads to the trough, .. and finally the stability offered by the cement that encases its moribund corps.
In the beginning, when consensus is forming, things are much more fluid, and laudable, and this is a precious time - and would that it continue as the standard. But this is not so. This period is usually short-lived, because what it represents is instability.
Concepts /hypotheses /observations /"facts" etc., can be discussed, but only until it becomes clear which view is likely to carry most authority. Note that virtually by definition this is different from scientific value, because the science is ongoing and something that scientists struggle with over time. it is not resolved in the short time necessary for stabilisation. Authority, on the other hand is usually already a given, vested in the reputations of institutions that already exist.
Moreover during this time what is called "lively and active debate" is a gross misnomer, for very few participate in the actual debate. Most, .. the 'lurkers', .. the grey polloi who are by far the majority, do not contribute. What they are casting around for is guidance, .. not what view(s) is likely to be correct but which view might be perceived as carrying most authority - usually gauged by which institution is perceived as most dominant. [Include something here about the superficialities, the 'dumming-down' by slogan-laden jargon used to appeal.] *They* are the ones who will eventually identify their own value with the authority they protect, not the core values it represents, and *they* are the ones whom 'authority', in narcissitic reversal, will reference for their own validity. Thus consensus becomes encased in an "everybody knows..", self-referential cocoon that becomes very difficult to penetrate, particularly once the liturgy is learned by a new generation.
Authority is needed in all walks in life. But we need those in authority not to abuse it. However, unfortunately "power corrupts", and that applies every bit as much to science (and the institutions that house it)as it does to the state and the church - and to every other institution set up to organise society : people are "only human" after all..
.. Except for those who perceive themselves as rottweillers, guarding 'territory',
.. which is an admirable trait,
(.. in a dog... )
[Update: 2012-06-08 I see they're still guarding territory. see pp. bottom of 274 passing over to 275. (Useless idiots.) Robert Hunter pops up calling Erakivnor a troll (which he is) and they all come out of their kennels barking - moderators and all. That wee guy with the nightie who swears like a trooper and kids on he's hung "that big", frightens me the way he keeps popping up with his foul language. Looked in the other day and saw he's cleaned it up a bit, but not much. Seems they're all refugees from the Richard Dawkins atheistic forum when it got closed down because of their foul language and insults. They've found a home at RationalSkeptics.org What a mob. Waste of time. Some dogs never learn. Suspect the Erak won't really be too pleased with them as minders either. (If he has any sense.) Troll or no troll, he should be spared being tarred with that brush.]
[ See also - Debunking Plate Tectonics - at :-