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Center for Political Science: News of the Day
  1. Revamped White House Website Aims For Inclusivity And Accessibility
    The Biden administration has made a handful of changes to the White House website, from adding gender-inclusive pronouns to its contact form to restarting Spanish-language communications.

  2. Biden's Early Days Are About Action, Rep. Blunt Rochester Says
    NPR's Noel King talks to Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware about President Biden's agenda and the legislative challenges. She worked closely with him as he prepared to take office.

  3. 6 Takeaways From President Biden's Inauguration
    After a chaotic four years, Biden is calling for calm. A new tone was set, but a return to the same old partisan bickering won't solve the problem of millions fed a daily diet of false information.

  4. Memorable Inauguration Images Include Bernie Sanders' Mittens
    People on social media lifted a photo of Sanders and his mittens out of the inauguration, and put him on a ski lift, atop the throne from Game of Thrones and sitting on an unfinished skyscraper.

  5. Detroiters Are Divided Over Trump's Commutation Of Ex-Mayor's Sentence
    Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick served seven years in prison for corruption. With 20 years left on his sentence, he received a commutation from President Trump.

  6. Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Promises To Put Country Ahead Of Party
    NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York, co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, about where GOP lawmakers may find common ground with President Biden's agenda.

  7. President Biden's White House Introduces Initiatives On Immigration
    President Biden seeks not just to undo Trump's most controversial immigration policies, but to make a pathway to legalization for more than 10 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.

  8. Biden Signs 15 Executive Actions, Many To Unravel Trump Policies
    After he was sworn in as the nation's 46th president, Joe Biden got to work signing a flurry of executive actions. Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority for the new administration.

  9. Democratic National Committee Will Examine Future Of Iowa Caucuses
    Members of the DNC have their first meeting of the Biden era on Thursday. They will consider whether Iowa should keep its place at the front of the presidential nominating process.

  10. The Spark That Changed Georgia's Politics: Grassroots Activism
    Deborah Scott has been working as a grassroots organizer in Georgia for nearly four decades. NPR's Noel King talks to Scott about how she began, and how her work has helped to galvanize voters.

Scientific Consensus - Politically Correct Words for Bullying

Commentary after commentary tries to browbeat opponents with the ‘scientific consensus’ of some point. As if the collective opinions of some group convey not just a stamp of approval on an issue but anoint their position with the ...

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Scientific Consensus - Politically Correct Words for Bullying

Commentary after commentary tries to browbeat opponents with the ‘scientific consensus’ of some point. As if the collective opinions of some group convey not just a stamp of approval on an issue but anoint their position with the certitude of absolute truth. Would that it were so. Scientific consensus has become the pronouncement of sophisticated lynch mobs who, unable to prove a position, resort to derision of opposing positions with a pronouncement of collective wisdom.

The problem is that, quite often, the consensus is wrong. Sometimes ruinous, deadly wrong. Remember Richard Jewel? The Atlanta bomber -- only he wasn’t. Duke lacrosse? Those nasty college rapists -- only they weren’t. How about the flat earth believers? No, not the iconoclastic society that states its beliefs tongue-in-cheek; the real flat earthers of the Renaissance period. THE thinkers who began the Modern age, leaving behind the supposed ignorance of the Dark and Middle Ages. Those Renaissance thinkers were sure that the earth was flat, that if one traveled to the edge, they would fall into an abyss. No less certain, the sun and stars revolved around earth as the center of the universe. It is said that the court of Spain had those who were sure that Columbus would sail off of the earth and never return. The Catholic Church is purported to have condemned Galileo in 1632 for his heretical notion that the earth was a round globe hurtling through space about the sun. Throughout history, the Intelligentsia has relied upon consensus to impose its assumption as the only rational belief.

The philosopher, Descartes, observed, "There is nothing", he said, "so evident or so certain that it may not be controverted. Whence then this widespread and deep-rooted anarchy? From the fact that our inquiries are haphazard." There is no question on which men agree. "[T]here is hardly a statement made by one man, of which the opposite is not loudly supported by some other?" So, disagreement is not new.

Consensus does not mean an absolute truth. Most often, it merely signifies which group is more prominent, at the moment. Later knowledge sometimes justifies the disbeliever over the body in power. Pasteur and Lister, with their beliefs in germ theory, have surpassed their critics who believed in evil humors and the need for blood letting. We do not praise the priests who inflicted torture with the Inquisition, we cringe at their cruelty. At the time, they were the powerful. The pain inflicted was with certitude of convictions driven by consensus.

The truth lies in Descartes’ observation “that our inquiries are haphazard.” It has been said that we can never know the truth because our observations will always be biased by our preconceptions. That is the problem with many group opinions. Consensus is not the product of divergent thought. Rather, like teenagers seeking to emulate their idol, a small nexus have a thought and the group follows, like lemmings. When that nexus has a private agenda, it can lead the group over a cliff, as was recently seen with the ‘global warming hoax.’

While a consensus opinion should not be rejected out-of-hand, it should be remembered that consensus is not an imprimatur of absolute truth. When consensus is used to foreclose differences of opinion, it is bullying -- particularly when consensus is based upon haphazard inquiries to further a private agenda. Consensus is not an adequate substitute for rigorous investigation and validation through scientific proof, rather than scientific opinion. Remember to keep an open mind and accept the possibility that consensus may be right but it can also be very, very wrong.



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