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Crichton on Consensus Science

John on November 23, 2005 at 10:48 pm

Bill Dembski has made the point that Intelligent Design is a search for intelligence in the history of life, not unlike SETI’s search for intelligence in the universe. In that regard, I came across this interesting article by Michael Crichton [HT: Thinking Christian]. Chricton argues that SETI is not science and that it led to a brand of politically driven science including the scientifically dubious “Nuclear Winter” and “Global Warming”.

Reading the piece, one might assume that Crichton, to the extent he is against SETI, would be against ID for similar reasons. That may be the case, though when I saw Crichton on the Charlie Rose show a year or so ago, he stated that he believed in a creator/designer of the universe. He specifically mentioned that the most interesting way to create something would be to start with simple laws and build it up into increasing complexity, which sounds a bit like ID.

What’s really interesting is the way in which Crichton takes a wrecking ball to the idea of scientific consensus. He gives numerous historical examples where consensus was ultimately harmful, then concludes by noting a recent episode involving the publication of a book critical of global warming. He says in part:

Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific American, which seemed intent on proving the post-modernist point that it was all about power, not facts. The Scientific American attacked Lomborg for eleven pages, yet only came up with nine factual errors despite their assertion that the book was “rife with careless mistakes.” It was a poor display featuring vicious ad hominem attacks, including comparing him to a Holocust denier. The issue was captioned: “Science defends itself against the Skeptical Environmentalist.” Really. Science has to defend itself? Is this what we have come to?

Again, I’m not suggesting that Crichton has any fondness for ID. Many of the criticism he levels could in fact apply to ID; nevertheless, the circle-the-wagons mentality he castigates here is identical to what is happening vis-a-vis ID today. ID will have more peer review when it has less peer pressure.

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