‘Dark Energy’ Reminds Us: Consensus Has No Place in Real Science

18th August 2009

So Dark Energy might not exist after all? Good. I’m delighted to hear it. Not that I have anything personal against this mysterious substance which until very recently scientists believed made up three quarters of the universe. (In fact if it does exist, I want some in a jar in my office. It sounds pretty cool).

No, the reason I’m pleased is because it shows the healthy, normal process of science in action.

Dark Energy was invented by cosmologists “to fit Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity into reality after modern space telescopes discovered that the Universe was not behaving as it should.”

“According to Einstein’s work, the speed at which the Universe is expanding following the Big Bang should be slower than it actually is and this unexplained anomaly threatened to turn the whole theory upside down. In order to reconcile this problem the concept of dark energy was invented”.

“But now Blake Temple and Joel Smoller, mathematicians at the University of California and the University of Michigan, believe they have come up with a whole new set of calculations that allow for all the sums to add up without the need for this controversial substance.”

“The research could change the way astronomers view the composition of our Universe.”

Or then again, it might not. Let’s just be grateful, shall we, that Temple and Smoller have been free to publish their research, without being vilified by the rest of the scientific community, risking their funding being withdrawn and being described as “dark matter deniers.”

As Aussie geology professor Ian Plimer points out in his excellent Heaven And Earth – global warming: the missing science, the row over whether Anthropogenic Global Warming does or doesn’t exist has led to a widespread public misconception about the process of science. It is not a static belief system but an ongoing learning process.

“Science is married to evidence derived from observation, measurement and experiment. Evidence is fraught with healthy uncertainties and scientists argue about the methods, accuracy and repeatability and veracity of data collection. If the data can be validated, then this body of new evidence awaits explanation. The explanation is called a scientific theory. This scientific theory must be abandoned or modified if the evidence is not repeatable or if the evidence is not coherent with previously validated evidence. With new evidence theories are abandoned or refined. A scientific hypothesis tests a concept by the collection and analysis of evidence. Hypotheses are invalidated by just one item of contrary evidence, no matter how much confirming evidence is present. Science progresses by abandoning theories and hypotheses and creating new explanations for validated evidence.”

In short, science is not, never has been and never should or can be about “consensus”. There is no consensus on dark matter. Anyone who claims that there is one on climate change or Anthropogenic Global Warming is living on another planet.

Related posts:

  1. Climategate reminds us of the liberal-left’s visceral loathing of open debate
  2. ‘Post-normal science’ is perfect for climate demagogues — it isn’t science at all
  3. If this is Britain’s energy policy, we’re toast
  4. Climategate: Science Museum’s green propaganda backfires

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