Decline Effect

The Truth Wears Off: Jonah Lehrer writes about the unsettling Decline Effect, revealing the human and fallible side of Science.

'Learn from science that you must doubt the experts.' Richard Feynman


Ahish said…
I remember reading this; it created a lot of noise in the science world. Here is a rebuttal in scientific american
Awais Aftab said…
@ Ahish

Yes, it seems that Lehrer got carried away while he wrote the article and ended up being more dramatic and sounding like a "Derridean postmodernist" than he might have intended otherwise.

Scientific American: We may choose to believe in psychoanalysis rather than behaviorism, because both are equally flimsy. But the evidence is rock-solid for quantum mechanics, general relativity, the germ theory of infectious disease, the genetic code and many other building blocks of scientific knowledge, which have yielded applications that have transformed our world. There's nothing truthy about a hydrogen bomb.

If Lehrer didn't really mean that belief in a given scientific claim is always a matter of choice, why did he say it? He apparently decided, like many scientists, that truthiness would make a bigger splash than truth.

Yet apart from these exaggerations, the decline effect does reveal something to ponder over and genuinely be concerned about as scientists.