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Caitlin R. Kiernan

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Art is not science. Even when art is about science, it is still art. There cannot be consensus, in the sense that science strives for meaningful consensus. And unlike science, art is not progressive. Personally, I have my doubts that science can be said to be genuinely progressive, but I'm pretty dammed certain that art is not. Which is not to say that it is not accumulative or accretionary. But the belief that sf writers are out there forecasting the future, that they have some social responsibility to do so, that's malarky, if you ask me. Writers of sf can only, at best, make educated guesses, and usually those guesses are wrong, and clumping together to form a consensus does not in any way insure against history unfolding in one of those other, unpredicted directions. People love to pick out the occasional instances where Jules Verne and William Gibson got it right; they rarely ever point fingers at their miscalls.
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(15 June 2007)

 
Caitlin R. Kiernan

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Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

 
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Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation ... Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

 
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