Thursday, April 18, 2013

Science is not a democracy

In my last post I argued that believing in an anthropomorphic God is not a choice, where the two options are of equal value. This is because there is no reliable evidence yet on the presence of an earthly supernatural being.

Robin Ince recently wrote along similar lines:

There is a gaggle that seems to consider that expertise is an unfair advantage, that all opinions are equal; an idea that people who are experts in climate change, drugs or engineering are given unfair preference just because they spend much of their life studying these things. I do not think it is fascism that heart surgeons seem to have the monopoly of placing hands in a chest cavity and fiddling with an aorta.
We should not trust people just because they are experts, but if we are not prepared to put the time and effort in to understand something, [...] then we are placed in a position where we must defer and try and make the best decision we can as to who we should defer to.

Science is not a democracy; it's an evidence-based meritocracy. It's closer to fascism than a democracy, with the major difference that the expert/fascist earns his status through the scientific method, and not because of circumstances or strength (physical, political, or otherwise).

In science we do not vote or make decisions based on popular choice. There is no choice. At some points in time most people believed that the earth was in the center of the solar system, that matter cannot cross walls, that the universe was eternal and static. But it didn't matter. What matters is what's right and what's wrong.