In some areas of science there is very little resistance to the scientific consensus. Very few people will challenge the consensus that water flows downhill because of gravity or that objects are different colours because they absorb/reflect different wavelengths of light. However in other areas of science, for example – climate change, alternative health treatments, immunisation the corresponding consensus in the scientific community receives more resistance. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what some of the factors are that make this difference, and have come up with the following “formula” as an explanation:
R is proportional to C x A x (NS/S)
R = resistance to scientific consensus
C = complexity of the system involved
A = how negatively the individual is affected if the consensus is accepted
NS = exposure to information not supporting the scientific consensus
S = exposure to information supported the scientific consensus
Thoughts? I think I already see at least one flaw in this formulaic approach, but I’d be interested to see what others think. Are there other factors I’ve missed?