In “tips” on WUWT there was a pointer to an article that does a wonderful job of demonstrating just why “consensus science” is an oxymoron. It is written by Mike Smith the Meteorologist (not me, yet another “Mike Smith”… there is one of us per 2000 of working population. I have seen the death of Mike Smith in a boating accident reported on the nightly news by, yes, Mike Smith as Mike Smith watched it on TV…)
Well worth the read of the whole thing, so I’m just putting a ‘teaser’ here. Hit the link, it is better read as a whole…
The single best course I took in my education at the University of Oklahoma was called “history of science” and it explained, in detail, the “scientific method.” Briefly, in order to be “science,” an idea must follow the following process,
A person has a new idea about how something works and does some preliminary investigation. It seems to hold up and seems worth pursuing. This is called a hypothesis.
The person (it doesn’t matter if the person is a scientist, what matters is the process in this case) does some experimentation and the hypothesis holds up.
The person publishes the hypothesis so it can be reviewed by all interested parties. Other parties must be able replicate the experimental results.
If the hypothesis passes muster (i.e., the results are accurate and reproducible) then it becomes a scientific theory.
A theory is considered to be “science” until someone can show it does not work in the real world. For example, primitive telescopes seemed to show the sun rotated around the earth. When new data showed otherwise, the theory of an earth-centric universe was discarded.
Note there is no place in the scientific method for “consensus.” Science is what can be demonstrated in the real world, nothing more and nothing less. Opinions matter in many areas of human endeavor, but they are not “science.”
Further down, after a few well placed jabs at an article by Dr. Gutting, we have (quotes from Gutting in italics):
Finally, given a consensus on a claim among recognized experts, we nonexperts have no basis for rejecting the truth of the claim…
There is, moreover, no denying that there is a strong consensus among climate scientists on the existence of A.G.W. — in their view, human activities are warming the planet…
He uses the term “consensus” seven more times in the article but the above is enough to give you the idea. To Dr. Gutting, the mere fact that a “consensus” exists is conclusive! This isn’t science, it is anti-science.
There was a consensus in science (and religion) that the earth was the center of the universe when Galileo argued the sun was the center of the solar system.
So, the original in full flows smoothly, and with wonderful effect. Best to read it at the link. Now would be good. Yes, you. Now.
It’s OK, I’ll wait for you to get back…
What is “Consensus”?
As noted in the wiki, “consensus” is about a “group solidarity of belief”, not science…
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks not only the agreement of most participants but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first – general agreement and, second – group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its origin in a Latin word meaning literally feel together. It is used to describe both general agreement and the process of getting to such agreement. Consensus decision-making is thus concerned primarily with that process.
Feelings and belief are the domain of religion, not science. Of particular note is the comment in the wiki about non-consensus methods:
Examples of non-consensus
The peer review process in most scientific journals does not use a consensus based process. Referees submit their opinions individually and there is not a strong effort to reach a group opinion.
So, when you hear people talk about ‘consensus science’, take just a moment to ask them which God or Gods they are embracing with that notion… Gaia perhaps?