Sunday, 28 July 2013

YECS: don't compare yourself to Galileo. Unlike you, he had evidence on his side.

Ken Perrott, who blogs at Open Parachute has a splendid post on the use of the Galileo Gambit by science denialists and crackpots. The argument as used by denialists boils down to "I must be right because I am the member of a brave minority coming out against the oppressive orthodoxy of consensus". As Perrott notes, this is false:

  1. It relies on the fact of being in the minority, of opposing the consensus, as being “proof” of correctness.
  2. It implies that because the user of the fallacy is in the minority and opposing the consensus then the user is correct. In  other words – “bugger the evidence, I must be right because I am coming out against the consensus.”

What the denialist - be he a climate change zealot or special creationist - fails to do is demonstrate that his position is a better explanation of the facts than the consensus view. Instead, you see posturing, claims of persecution, censorship and anything other than peer-reviewed data that supports their position. As Perrott notes:
The real lesson from Galileo is not to oppose the “establishment” or current scientific consensus – but to rely on evidence. It was this argument of his, which today most of us accept and see as almost self-evident, that describes Galileo’s real contribution to the progress of science.
As Perrott curtly - but correctly - notes in his conclusion, the Galileo Gambit is for losers, a point YECs should be reminded of each time they claim to be right but fail to provide the evidence to back up their position.