I am sometimes surprised that there is not that much agreement among intelligent, reasonably educated people on this.
I assert that for generally-well-educated people, who if they have a field of academic expertise ar considering topics outside of it, it is wisest to stay within the realm of consensus of the academes that make up the field in question, and that people should be reluctant to take positions on topics outside their realm of expertise. The academic community for each field should be considered the source of our best shot at truth, and while not always correct, given trust over anyone else for topics with which it treats with scientific and academic traditions. People are permitted to have fringe opinions, but if they are not an academe, these people will be thought the less of, and even if they are an academe, if the ideas are fringe we should expect them to be pleaded to the academic community rather than the general public.
Academia represents imperfect-but-best, in its bullshit filter, in its conclusions, and in its approaches. There are cases where it is potentially corruptable, and there are a few fields that are actually made questionable because of financial dependency from outside sponsors-with-an-interest (particularly Business and Economics schools, where "Austrian" economics has what little presense it has not because its ideas are compelling or supportable but because rich donors have created endowments contingent on teaching of their discredited ideas), but generally it represents a best path to knowledge, and we should consider those who were right before academic consensus formed around their ideas to have only been accidentally right.
(There are also some fields in academia that don't aim for much convergence, like philosophy or art; this statement doesn't apply to them)