Consensus Science = Unscientific

John Christy and Roy Spencer are pro-fossil fuel and anti-scientific consensus.” ~Dana Nuccitelli

I am “anti-scientific consensus” as well. In fact, blindly supporting a consensus IS anti-scientific. When scientists and science “journalists” attack others for suggesting contrarian ideas, and use names such as “denier,” they are actually acting as bullies. Sometimes the only way to respond to that is to bully back with some facts and truths.

Claiming a “consensus” in science is in fact, unscientific and is actually a demand for faith and belief, much like those who wear purple hats, robes, and high collars while thumping their holy books.

I support the scientific method. I trust the scientific method but that does not mean I trust the opinion of even 99% of scientists, 100% of the time. I personally have good reasons to distrust “consensus-based” science when it is applied as a “this is right, every other way is wrong” doctrine.

My Personal Reasons – My Health As A Child

I became very interested in science as a young child – and had ideas that if I lived, I would want to become a doctor of medicine or involved in scientific research looking for cures and medicines for sick people. It was a somewhat naive idea that I had back then for a future career, but nevertheless, I studied science and read everything I could (I had a great deal of time to me, to do so). I never did become a doctor of medicine or a professional health research scientist, but I did live….

At age 10, I became inflicted with a variety of medical conditions that included diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, pericarditis, and rayneaud’s disease. Mostly as a result of the pericarditis, the consensus at the time was to treat it (and just about any other heart condition) with total bed rest. I spent the greater part of 4 years in Sick Children’s Hospital, confined to bed and when required to go for ECG’s and other tests, was helped from the bed to a wheelchair. I was on doctor’s orders to not take any steps outside of bed.

I was also prescribed, for most of that time, medicine that consisted of 36 ASA (Aspirin) tablets – 5 grain each per day. Six tablets, six times a day. For part of that time, I was also prescribed high dosages of prednisone every day.

I hated it all.

I had the best treatment of the day that was available, but the consensus about treatment was incorrect. With regard to the Rayneaud’s Disease, I and my parents were told that not only was there no cure, there was not even a treatment available for it.

Around the age of 14, I began to recover, and that is a very long story. I shall not describe it all here – but it was a “miracle” to some. The doctors at the time were expecting no recovery. There were several times during my childhood illness when my physical condition had reached a point where doctors warned my parents that it was possible I might not live. Indeed, having spent so much time at Sick Kids, I myself witnessed more than a few kids who came to the hospital and only left it for their own funerals. I had a roommate that I became good friends with who was wheeled out of the room, never to return. I knew why, even though no one told me why.

Raynead’s Disease

As mentioned, I’m not going to talk about all the medical conditions I had as it would take up far too many paragraphs. Suffice to say that later in life, when I moved and had to get a new family doctor, he requested I sign a form so he could have in his possession, all my past medical records. After they arrived at his office, his staff told me that they had no idea where they were going to store the records; the records arrived in multiple crates even though some of them had been copied to microfiche. They were going to have to renovate some part of the basement area just to store my medical records.

So we’ll focus on the Rayneaud’s – and why “consensus” science can be a bullying science, and I know this from personal experience. Just after I turned 14, the pericarditis seemed to get better (and that is another story for another day), and I was released from hospital, but with cautions about any engagement in physical activity (I ignored the cautions, although the rheumatism was still very painful).

My mother had heard about a registered medical doctor in Ontario who had his own ways of treating a variety of medical conditions but they were not “approved.” She consulted with him, and one of the things we were told was that Rayneaud’s could be treated with a B Vitamin – Niacin. Now – this is very important – other medical doctors poo pooed this recommendation – and the old “there is no scientific evidence for that” argument kept coming up. Indeed, the doctor that my mom consulted with was bullied and called a “quack” by the Ontario Medical Association and was eventually forced to leave the Province and practice in the United States.

Did Niacin Work?

What a horrible feeling it is when you first pop a 500 mg tablet of niacin! The “quack” doctor warned there would be uncomfortable sensations – but I was not prepared for the itchiness and feelings of having sunburnt skin. But as the doctor said, the discomfort would disappear after 20 minutes. I was told to take a niacin tablet every time I had an attack of Raynead’s – which I did about three or four times.

Three or four times was all it took for my Rayneaud’s to practically cease to attack me. Now, was it coincidence? Or did niacin actually treat and almost cure my Rayneaud’s? I’m not going to say that it cured it – but I will point out that today, if you visit the Rayneaud’s Association website, you will find:

Niacin Can Increase Blood Flow
If you suffer from Raynaud’s Disease try taking some Niacin, also known as Vitamin B-3, to dilate your blood vessels and increase blood flow.” They do go on to say that there is no “clinical evidence” that niacin will help – but obviously, today, there must be a great deal of anecdotal evidence that niacin works.

Let’s now consider “consensus science” with this:

A doctor that my family knew was bullied by the medical establishment for suggesting an alternative treatment, not “clinically proven,” to the point he had to leave his home and his practice, because he used methods that were not within the “consensus.” Yet his methods worked, for at least some.

Today, the Rayneaud’s Association, along with some medical doctors (including the one I have today), suggest niacin as a treatment for this disease.

So no, “consensus-science” and demanding that others follow it, is not scientific. It’s actually unscientific.

My Personal Reasons – Health As An Adult

As a young adult, my health and fitness improved dramatically over what it was as a child. And I loved to eat my Northern Irish traditional dishes that included an “Ulster Fry” almost daily. What’s an “Ulster Fry?” Some called it a “heart attack on a plate” as it consists of nothing but fried foods – bacon, sausages, fried eggs in the bacon fat, fried potato bread in the bacon fat, fried soda farls in the bacon fat.. fried tomatoes in the bacon fat (and add more fat in the form of butter if you need to, if the frying pan drys up). And yes, real butter. Not margarine. Margarine is gross. Butter is tasty.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, I heard what “dieticians,” “experts,” and the Government was advising with regard to fat consumption, but to me, it was intuitively incorrect. I could not accept it. I did not believe that consuming fat, made you fat. Carbs made you fat.

I also salted all my food. I love salt. Salt makes things that taste bland, really good. Even healthy things that taste bland are made more palatable with salt. So, I salted. And salted. On foods like vegetables. Ulster Fry tasted so good already, it did not need salt. Bland vegetables do, however.

In about 1999, at age 33, I again moved and needed to find another doctor in Oshawa, Ontario. When I found one, he decided a complete physical was in order as I had not had one in years. Part of the physical included discussing my diet. When I told him, the doctor expressed… literally anger toward me that I would be so “irresponsible” with my diet. He did not care that I smoked oddly – it was about all the fat I consumed, and he demanded I attend a lecture at the local hospital about dietary fat intake, if I was to continue as his patient in his family medical practice.

I went to it. This FAT dietician lectured a group of us about the “dangers” of fat consumption and brought out a little slab of butter that you might receive in a restaurant, meant for buttering your bun. For me, it was the equivalent amount of butter I would use on one half of the bun and would be requesting more butter for the other half!

My eyes glazed over as I listened to this FAT dietician tell us that eating more fat per day that was contained in that little slab of butter was dangerous, and would make us obese, cause heart troubles, diabetes, and all sorts of horrible things.

Deep down, I knew that while she thought she knew what she was talking about, she could not – and was pretty sure that one day, science would correct this horrible advice.

For many years, decades even, it has been the “consensus” and probably accepted by MORE than 97% of medical scientists and dieticians, that only tiny amounts of fat consumption is acceptable.

That consensus has been dead wrong – literally, and has likely caused the premature deaths of many who just blindly accepted it on faith.

My Personal Reasons – Watching My Dad Die Too Young

Consensus Science killed my father. In the late 1970s, my father was generally healthy (although a little overweight by about 20 lbs). However, his blood tests showed higher than “normal” cholesterol levels. Doctors advised him to go on a “low-fat” diet – yet nothing helped lower those levels. And here’s one big problem – back then, they took measurements of total cholesterol – because some scientists who did not know any better and who probably misused statistical analysis, suggested a link between “high cholesterol” and early death. Well, my father died early alright – but I doubt it was because of high cholesterol, but rather the “consensus” medical opinion of the day in regard to cholesterol.

He was put on medications, he was put on special low-fat diets, but nothing would bring down those cholesterol numbers in his blood tests. I wonder how many other people have gone through the same thing?

Towards the end of his years, there was a hypothesis that perhaps some people had constantly high cholesterol levels due to their body creating too much homocysteine. Some claim it is caused by eating too much meat. But my father seldom ate meat, because of the consensus dietary recommendations. Even though he did not eat much meat, his homocysteine levels were high, and he was part of a study to see whether taking a folate (Vitamin B9) would help. I don’t know the results of that study, but I do know that the medical consensus likely caused my father’s premature death.

To be treated for high cholesterol, put on fat restrictive diets (that actually went as zero fat), with no results, and then by-pass operation, then – suddenly – kidney failure – is simply strange.

I Am Not Dissing Medical Professionals – They Are Caring – But Can Also Trade Science For Faith

Most medical professionals likely got into the profession for a genuine desire to care and help others.

I am however, telling you that this belief in “consensus” is dead wrong. Anyone who keeps pointing to “consensus” is expressing the most unscientific of ideas. While we can point to many caring doctors, we can also point to some who also bully others when the others might use some imagination, art, and deduction to think “maybe we’re wrong here… maybe we need to check our premises… is there something different and better…?”

You Owe Your Life To The Outliers

Let me tell you a fact: You owe everything you have today.. your very life – and your ability to access, have, desire, and even what you can dream of due to parting with and questioning consensus. All through the ages, someone came up with a new idea.. opposite to what was thought, or believed… and were often bullied, laughed at, called “crazy,” and yet… if there were no “outliers” that questioned the prevailing views, beliefs, and “consensus,” there would have been no change, no adaption to a changing environment.

What do you think the odds are, if no one was allowed to question the consensus, would you even exist today? Your parents may not have existed, because your grandparents might not have lived long enough to produce them.

Let’s have a look at some historical consensus that was found to be dead wrong. On January 17, 2003, Michael Crichton gave a lecture at Caltech University as part of the “James Michener Distinguished Visitors program. He spent some time discussing the errors of faith in “consensus” in science and pointed to a number of historical examples of where consensus was wrong. In some cases, dead wrong. Rather than me discussing these in my own words, here they are in Crichton’s:

Michael Crichton On Consensus Problems in Science In The Past

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let’s review a few cases.

In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth . One woman in six died of this fever. In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no. In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compelling evidence. The consensus said no. In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent “skeptics” around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.

There is no shortage of other examples. In the 1920s in America, tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, were dying of a disease called pellagra. The consensus of scientists said it was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the “pellagra germ.” The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory. Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. They and other volunteers swabbed their noses with swabs from pellagra patients, and swallowed capsules containing scabs from pellagra rashes in what were called “Goldberger’s filth parties.” Nobody contracted pellagra. The consensus continued to disagree with him. There was, in addition, a social factor — southern States disliked the idea of poor diet as the cause, because it meant that social reform was required. They continued to deny it until the 1920s. Result — despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.

Probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly, and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had in fact drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology — until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

And shall we go on? The examples can be multiplied endlessly. Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theory. Saccharine, margarine, repressed memory, fiber and colon cancer, hormone replacement therapy. The list of consensus errors goes on and on.

Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2 . Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

Conclusions

If you were born in the 20th or 21st century, it is likely you owe your very existence to contrarians who refused to accept the “consensus.” Would you bully those people today, because in their time, they were outliers in their thinking?

Science is never settled, and those who bully and claim a consensus have other ideas in mind that are certainly not about science or the scientific method. Only fools claim a “consensus” while suggesting that others should be shut up, imprisoned (yes, some have suggested that those who don’t accept the consensus ought to be jailed) or worse.

I’ll even fight for your freedom of expression to suggest that those who disagree you ought to be shut up, imprisoned or worse; in the meantime, we’ll show just how much of a fool you are.

Demanding a belief in a consensus is not scientific thinking at all. It is religious thinking, and is what popes, mullahs, and preachers demand.

2 thoughts on “Consensus Science = Unscientific”

  1. Crichton’s address is really important, in my mind. I know that he has had critiques from scientists because he is a non-scientist by profession but his knowledge of how science works was very good. It is unfortunate he is no longer with us.

  2. Hey Ian, Phil (above comment) sent me a link to your website and this article. I agree with Phil, and your article is well thought out and your experience as a child is interesting.

    But Phil sent me because of the reference to niacin and rayneaud’s. I have it and am wondering if anything can be done.

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