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From: Ross Olson
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
To: Editor Star Tribune (opinion{at}
Subject: Consensus Science

In an article focusing on genetically altered crops, Fred Hiatt makes passing reference to scientific consensus. ("Science, values, consensus, denial -- all tumbling through the American hopper" Star Tribune, 2/9/2015).

Although it is the hope of most scientists that that their work be duplicated, confirmed and accepted, consensus is not the test of scientific truth. Indeed, a scientific conclusion is always potentially open to challenge. Consensus that suppresses challenge is actually counterproductive.

Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847 demonstrated that physician hand washing, especially after visits to the morgue, dramatically reduced maternal and fetal deaths from "fevers." The consensus of his colleagues was that it was nonsense and they even refused to test his simple procedure. He died in an insane asylum at age 47, probably heart-broken.

One area of consensus that I have studied extensively is the origin of life. Although Darwinian evolution has countless problems in hypothesizing continuous increase in complexity of living/reproducing cellular organisms (in opposition to the direction of all measurable natural processes,) the origin of the first cell does not even have a plausible theoretical mechanism.

Fred Hoyle likened it to the possibility of a tornado assembling a 747 by passing through a junk yard. But by limiting science to the search for natural explanations to natural phenomena -- a requirement that is neither scientifically not philosophically sound -- the "reality" of life from non-life has become accepted. (We see design in an arrowhead.) And further, any doubt of the spontaneous appearance and progress of life is punished by exclusion from the community of "reputable scientists." Thus the "experts" always agree with the ruling paradigm, because if they didn't, they would not qualify as experts.

What can the non scientist do to evaluate some of these claims? Since we are all familiar with propaganda, whether advertising or political ads, when a viewpoint answers criticism with character assassination and censors contrary conclusions, our antenna should be vibrating. The history of science is full of widely accepted errors.

Ross S. Olson MD
Richfield MN

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