Part 3: The Emergence of Truth in Natural Sciences

Consensus

No paradigm-shifting research paper ever got published without reviews by respected and experienced peers in the field. If the paper is in publication and circulation, the reviewers (80% of the time) agreed that the research methodology was thorough and the findings were good progress in understanding the case study. The reviewers had reached consensus.

From my previous post , the natural progression of research in natural sciences can be summarised as follows:

1) An unusual phenomenon in Nature causes speculation and theory about its true material character, origins or mechanisms.

2) Decisive experiments play a key role in characterising and measuring the phenomenon.

3) Consensus on the results of experiments must be reached. This is where science becomes a logical and sociological process.

Why bother to get to the point of consensus? And do we reach such an academic destination too easily?  One consideration is that it may be generally pragmatic to reach consensus and move forward with new research.  Alternatively, naive realism also works in reaching consensus.  This means that we let our brain win at recognising initial patterns in the data, and don’t over think it. “It is there in nature.  It’s not in my head, it’s not in your head.  That is really happening in the data and the way we’ve characterised it in nature.”

Consensus is also reached because other matters are more important. It’s the  apathetic shrug off of, “I don’t care about this research, so I’ll save the thought space and accept it as is.”
Scientists do damn expensive work! They cannot afford to play unanimous and controversy always rallies an audience. Where there is backing in intellect or research funding, the result is usually progress in understanding via more work done on more specimens, in more localities, with fancier equipment. Research is an industry with pretty direct feedbacks and financial opportunities if the topic is hot.

But perhaps scientists know their insignificant blip of importance in the universe. Perhaps consensus is reached, because, well, provisional truth is quite alright with us…

After edit: Thank you to Professor Gustaffson,  for the  he created in explaining the nature of science and the emergence of truth. 

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One thought on “Part 3: The Emergence of Truth in Natural Sciences

  1. Very interesting posts Chelsea. As someone not in this field I found them very easy to follow and understand. Thank you for providing some clarity on the matter. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future. Keep up the good work!

    Like

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