Ratings and truth are not the same and don’t always correlate.

If 100 people agree with a statement, that doesn’t make it true. They could all be wrong. In the realm of opinions, ratings may improve the probability rate, but they are not an indication of truth.

In the realm of facts and science, ratings establish truth and validity.

If 100 scientists agree with a theory based strictly on the scientific method, that theory is true and valid. The problem is that not everything scientists agree or disagree on is the result of the scientific method. The more a theory or an idea moves away from its grounding in fact, the more likely it is to be subject to disagreements, even within the same professional community. It may still enjoy the status of science, but that wouldn’t be the same thing.

Scientific paradigms shift when the gap between fact and theory becomes unbridgeable. Facts have nowhere to go, so the theory must leave. There is limited space in the room for too many theories. New theories are born all the time, but they settle into the property when the old ones have checked out.

But back to ratings. In our culture, ratings have been trying to usurp the sovereignty of truth and set themselves up as measures of credibility and value. You can’t be wrong if you follow a good crowd. And a good crowd usually has the numbers on its side. The bandwagon fallacy is one of the most resilient.

Everything gets rated because we feel everything needs to find its place in the pecking order. We rate movies just as we rate professors of history on rateyourlecturer.co.uk and Burgundy wines on Vivino. We give them a number, we assign them a value and find them a place.

It’s always easier to rate than to interpret, to count than to tell a compelling story.

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