In my recent post Science, Politics, and Administration, I wrote, among other things:
Those who prefer to emphasize scientific outliers as definitive rather than simply indispensable to science over the stolid solid science of consensus tend to be crackpots or dupes who foolishly mistake themselves for champions of science or who are indulging in rank fraud.To this, an "Anonymous" commenter replied (this is much abridged, do follow the link for the whole exchange):
In my view, this isn't the best way to spot crackpottery. Oh, yes, crackpots always channel Einstein, Wright brothers, Tesla, Von Braun, etc. ad nauseum. But, unlike the genuine articles, they want special treatment of some kind for their ideas. Always…. [The] Wright brothers built their "flier" (and half a dozen various flying prototypes) first, and then sought investors. Some imitate those examples faithfully, and whether their ideas make it or fail miserably, I respect them. But do crackpots, con men and their dupes do that? Never! They don't bet their lives and fortunes on their ideas, they want a sure thing. So they go to courts, to TV, to gullible venture capitalists, to the internet, organize their own diploma mills, and get their share of "degrees", "fame" and sometimes, alas, quite real money. Their "success" is of course, as fake as their ideas and methods, even financial one…. The sheer hypocrisy of this fake-dissent is enough to make those types absolutely intolerable. Any dissenters are welcome, except fakes.These points are well taken, surely, but I don't happen to doubt that at least some pseudo-scientific crackpots and futurological fraudsters are indeed willing to struggle selflessly and even die (at least professionally) for their dumb ideas, or might at any rate be too stupid or caught up in a full froth of True Belief to grasp that these are the stakes in the game they are playing at.
What matters to me is that we insist on the distinction of marginal hypotheses that are indispensable in principle despite their marginality to the process by means of which we arrive at ever more capacious consensus technoscience over the long run, and actual scientific consensus worthy of the name and warranting our reasonable belief as such many of the present pillars of which began as marginal notions but no longer are so.
I think that most non-crackpots who are strong champions of presently marginal notions will concede that their views do not yet represent consensus science even if they rightly or wrongly expect them one day to achieve that distinction.
They best not compensate for their marginality by pretending to a certainty that nobody has, they best not handwave about the ignorance or irrationality of their detractors rather than seek to better substantiate their cases the better to persuade them, they will surely be aware and best welcome the custom that it is the extraordinary claim that demands extraordinary evidences and that their marginality puts the onus on them, they will best reasonably qualify their claims in the face of objections rather than hyperbolize and make to bulldoze them over, they best behave like scientists rather than salesmen (or futurologists, all of whom are salesmen).