Through a microscope, the cutting edge of a beautifully sharpened ax looks like the Rocky Mountains, all jagged and irregular, but it is the dull heft of the steel behind the edge that gives the ax its power. Similarly, the cutting edge of science seen up close looks ragged and chaotic, a bunch of big egos engaging in shouting matches, their judgment distorted by jealousy, ambition, and greed, but behind them, agreed upon by all the disputants, is the massive routine weight of accumulated results, the facts that give science its power. Not surprisingly, those who want to puncture the reputation of science and drain off its immense prestige and influence tend to ignore the wide-angle perspective and concentrate on the clashes of schools and their not-so-hidden agendas. But, ironically, when they set out to make their case for the prosecution (using all the finely polished tools of logic and statistics), all their good evidence of the failings and biases of science comes from science’s own highly vigorous exercises in self-policing and self-correction. The critics have no choice: there is no better source of truth on any topic than well-conducted science, and they know it.
Daniel Dennett, Appendix C, “Breaking the Spell”