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Monday, 19 August 2013


Tracy Allison Altman

Rob, Well said. While "the evidence" (and not consensus) is what persuades Ridley about the validity of a given theory, that same evidence might fail to persuade many others. I'm likely to be persuaded by someone who makes a strong argument - applying deep knowledge to analyze empirical evidence according to accepted scientific principles. And if there seems to be a consensus around the theory, based on investigations by others, I see no harm in weighing that.

Rob Ryan

I have to say that Ridley's statement that "it is the evidence that persuades me whether a theory is right or wrong, and no, I could not care less what the 'consensus' says" is all well and good for those topic areas where he has subject matter expertise sufficient to evaluate that evidence. The evidence will be in the primary literature (simply reading blogs - especially those with which one agrees - is completely insufficient). Without that subject matter expertise, one is forced to decide whom to credit.

I've written a couple of blog posts on this, one is at: http://hamiltonianfunction.blogspot.com/2011/07/hierarchy-of-evaluating-research-like.html

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