Does Consensus Equate to Truth or Fact?
Believing in God is acceptable in this society. Most people do.
Whether it’s understood as a nondescript flow of energy, or humanoid entity, the average magazine article would claim that 92% of our people believe in some form of an overseeing creator.
Atheists might deem this God-belief a tolerable delusion, but only because there is an overwhelming majority who share in this misguided attempt to quantify the world around us. To try and change so many minds would be an ineffective use of time. And it doesn’t matter anyway. God is intangible.
The parameters of an alleged existence are not defined, and people are hardly unified in their belief systems, so it’s not worth the energy to dispute.
Belief that there is intelligent life, other than human, that resides on or around our planet is less acceptable in our society. But still, it’s somewhat bearable to non-believers, again, because of the numbers. Some estimate that 60% of our population think there are life forms who are alien to our present understanding.
This leads me to wonder if all of our acceptable beliefs are based on consensus.
Rather than come up with my own definition, I’ll defer to a Google-approved description of Scientific Consensus. According to Wikipedia, “Scientific consensus is the collective judgement, position and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.”
So, it seems that in science there has been an agreement to go along with a consensus, even if one or more scientists have a differing conclusion. But if science is so black-and-white, and settled as some claim, then why would there even be a deviation in thought?
And if there is a deviation, then wouldn’t that mean that the studied outcomes are based on beliefs, opinions and perspectives rather than concrete facts?
I have always wondered about these outliers — the ones that “agreed” to a consensus by staying silent. Or maybe, some aren’t silent. But they’re harder to hear below the resounding buzz of the swarm.
What is the outlier’s point-of-view, I wonder? How and why did they come to a different understanding? And would it be hard to voice a differing conclusion? Would they receive a backlash from their peers? Could they lose their job for going against the grain?
Why does anyone ever speak up at all?
Could it be because they know the penalty for remaining silent is much greater than the penalty for making themselves an outcast in their field, or to their friends and family, whichever the case may be?
Then I wonder about the people who have cast their vote to endorse any given consensus. Do they really believe what they claim to believe, or is it just easier to go along with the crowd? I heard a doctor joke one time, “If you think cliques in high school are bad, then just wait until you experience academia.”
Every facet of our overseeing bodies has professionals who agree or disagree on any given subject. And when so many Average Joes lazily regard consensus as gospel, is it wise to rely on the majority-rule, belief-based practices when creating regulations that apply to the whole of society?
Personally, I take notice of the few who dare to step out from the crowd. Because in a world that will take away everything for speaking against the consensus, they must have strong evidence to back their position. Either that or maybe they’re crazy. But is it reasonable to think that every single outlier is crazy? Is it reasonable to believe that consensus automatically equates to truth or fact?
Trained primarily in Yin & Vinyasa, Susan Hulcher is a Yoga and meditation teacher. Really though, life is spent doing what we’ve all been put here to do, which is create, communicate and love. All activities are infused with these initiatives, and the desire to inspire the same in everyone she comes into contact with. Check out her website for more information on Susan and her delightful published works.