A couple of days ago, Eli went off and ranted about an old philosopher, James Blachowicz, and his take on science, which to Eli was, well, given the history of this thing, Eli pretty much thought that Prof. Blachowicz was eating magic mushrooms.
Given the placement in the New York Times, not surprisingly, there were a few other comments, and not surprisingly (to Eli, Eli being always right) they pretty much agreed with Eli
Jerry Coyn, writing under the Rommian title of "Is this the worst popular philosophy piece ever? A philosopher argues that science is no more reliable than philosophy at finding truth" and pretty much concludes that it was
If the NYT can publish tripe like this, perhaps it’s time for someone to pull a Sokal-like stunt, writing a bogus philosophical analysis of science and submitting it to The Stone. But perhaps that’s exactly what Blachowicz has done!Ethan Siegel in Forbes discusses how Blachowicz' understanding of Kepler (and Galileo) is, to put it softly, lacking and Derek Lowe at Science also has a few words.
For a while now, Eli has been pushing the idea that science is characterized by coherence, consilience and consensus.
The Red Queen can hold any number of contradictory thoughts in her mind before breakfast but that only leads to confusion and is deadly for understanding. The Wikipedia has a useful description of consilience and why it is necessary for reaching a scientific consensus
evidence from independent, unrelated sources can "converge" to strong conclusions. That is, when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong even when none of the individual sources of evidence is significantly so on its own. Most established scientific knowledge is supported by a convergence of evidence: if not, the evidence is comparatively weak, and there will not likely be a strong scientific consensus.Kuhn pointed out that the consensus was very hard to change for good reasons, because a lot of evidence (consilience) had to be gathered and linked (coherence) to establish the consensus. That the consensus could be changed on very rare occasions is irrelevant because the overthrow (e.g. Relativity, QM) extended a strong consensus into new areas where it really had never previously been tested. New science EXTENDS old science.
The tough part of this is that one has to have a strong understanding of the various threads which establish the consensus to appreciate the consensus and its strength. Many do not.
They interpret the ability to modify the consensus as meaning that nothing can be certain, and if it cannot be certain then all statements are equally valid. Einstein and Kuhn are frequently invoked.
For example, some, not to be named, but including philosophers and lawyers and liberal arts types claim that it is equally true to claim that the Sun revolves around the Earth as visa versa.
As to the Earth and the Sun, if you believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth, you basically don't believe in Newtonian gravity or the laws of motion. There is some nonsense that should not go unchallenged, but that takes time.