Monday, April 8, 2013

Consensus Science

(Michael Crichton quote:- ".. If it is consensus it is not science.") :- 

"I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

"Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

"In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."

He's quite right, but I would put it a bit differently.  Science is concerned with getting right answers to questions when the natural world doesn't match with the template of knowledge and understanding we have of it.  It's a work in progress.  If we have a consensus along the way then it effectively dampens the fire, .. puts it out. We might never get there. The 'science' would be short-circuited.  We would put up with a half-answer. 

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[ See also - Debunking Plate Tectonics - at :- ]

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