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We need to wake up to the Quibble Method, which lets people parrot incantations to disdain the input of experts, to neutralize anyone who actually knows something, abut a topic. It is vital for members of an enlightened and scientific and creative-compassionate-competitive civilization to be aware of these tricks of deception. They are parroted now — as magical spells — by sectors of both the far left and the extreme right.

We see this in issues from Climate Change to vaccinations and homeopathy — where anecdotes outweigh any amount of systematic evidence

You start by asserting something that is obviously true! Like: “None of us — even scientists — can directly perceive objective reality. Everything passes through flawed senses.”

Or another: “Just being smart and knowing stuff doesn’t automatically make you wise.”

These assertions are blatantly true! In fact, science itself taught them to us, after millennia of being told by earlier elites — kings and feudal lords and priests, that THEY had perfect knowledge and wisdom.

Only now comes the sneaky trick. After saying those true things aloud, with a sly wink, the implied general extensions are:

“Therefore, science can’t be trusted! Sure they try to make models of the world that edge ever-closer to objective reality, disproving those that are clearly and decisively farther from objective reality. But ignore all that. Just assume they are like priests, of old! No, science is just a ‘community standard’ like any other and no better.”

Of course the real howler is the agenda and implied (insane) extension of the other truism.”

“All people who know stuff and are smart are hence unwise.”

You start to see an insidious pattern. Take an obviously true particular, and use it to imply an obviously crazy generality. These implied extensions underly the War on Science and against every single fact-using profession. Including now even the “deep-state” civil servants, intelligence and FBI and military officers who kept humanity’s greatest peace for 70 years.

In fact, science is NOT about community standards of truth. It is about a community standard for processes that falsify those models that prove farther away from objective reality than their rivals. The rival theories and models that survive this process are not raised up as gods! Nor are they called “objective reality.” If they survive this process of incessant testing, it is only for this round, because successful theories or models will split into daughters, that then repeat the creative endeavor of ceaseless testing.

If we cannot directly perceive objective reality, then at least we can corner it! And through the methods of science we are closing in… ever closer to discovering what is out there.

Author, scientist, public speaker. My books include The Transparent Society, The Postman, Earth, Existence, and Startide Rising.

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