I’ve just been reading the 2008 Survey of New Zealand scientists and technologists which is fascinating reading.
One of the statements participants were asked to comment on was
“It is in the public interest to discourage the dissemination of the views of scientists who do not agree with reigning orthodoxies in scientific issues.”
So how do you think scientists//technologists answered? Most critics of science/supporters of pseudoscience tend to accuse the scientific community of suppressing those with unorthodox ideas.
Well, not in New Zealand, according to this survey. 85.3% of those interviewed disagreed with the idea that unorthodox ideas should be suppressed. The author of the survey commented that:
“It is a valuable insight for the public at large, and for individuals in policy positions, to understand that scientists know the difference between scientific opinions they hold securely and the necessity of entertaining other, possibly contrary, opinions.
… The results of this question point to the profound respect that New Zealand scientists have for open dialogue on controversial issues”
Professor Jack Sommer
This does not mean that scientists will accept any unorthodox view. On the contrary, the scientific method only allows us to consider views which match the evidence. The whole idea of science is not to suppress unorthodox views but rather to pull any view (whether it is orthodox or not) out into the blazing spotlight of the scientific method to see whether it holds up under careful scrutiny of the evidence which supposedly supports it.
This is where many of those who support pseudoscientific views get confused. They interpret the dissection of a treasured belief, to expose the inconsistencies and lack of supporting evidence as suppression, when it is in fact, the simple application of the scientific method.