Friday, January 15, 2010

Science and Consensus

I like this excerpt from, of all people, author Michael Crichton:

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...

Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear: Michael Crichton = Not a Scientist.

The consensus in the scientific community is that he is an idiot.

Sir Isaac Newton said...

Generally, the scientist that ‘breaks with consensus’ will be rebuffed by ‘the world of agreement’ until the results are verifiable by reference to the real world. Einstein was scorned.

Furthermore, science ‘is’ sometimes accepted by consensus. How else do you explain the ‘lack of consensus’ regarding evolution, geology and cosmology by a significant portion of the American population?

Dr. (heh) William Dembski, Dr. Stephen Meyer, Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Michael Behe… and numerous other ‘scientists’ using the Discovery Institute (Oxymoron if ever there was one. They already have the answers, right?) and other dishonest ‘scientific’ organizations continue to deny the evidence and go against the settled science.

Modern ‘evidence’ stands in opposition to some ‘beliefs’ formed by the interpretation of a few chapters from the Bible written in the Iron Age when cutting edge technology was the wheelbarrow and cutting off part of a newborn’s penis of God’s perfectly created boy was preformed by the teeth of a mohel (Metzitzah b'peh - suction by mouth). As if the newborn’s penis needed fixing.

Charles Lyell wrote Principles of Geology in 1830, Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species 1859, Alfred Wegener proposed continental drift and plate tectonics in his book The Origin of Continents and Oceans in 1915. Georges LemaƮtre proposed Big Bang Theory around 1927.

Yet the science is still not ‘settled’ by some, rather denied.

Disclaimer: I'm not arguing the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming is settled but rather that science is often 'settled' by 'consensus' because there will be nonbelievers. Especially when 'the book' tells you that man has dominion over the earth.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Nice to know that seven years ago the sanctity of consensus was being busily undercut. Kudos to Crichton.

Darren said...

Let's be clear: Al Gore=Not A Scientist.

The consensus in the intelligent community is that he is an idiot.

KauaiMark said...

Michael Crichton IS a medical school graduate so is does know what he's talking about in the fields of science,medicine...and politics.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Har! Dr. R.K. Pachauri != Scientist.

And who is Dr. R.K. Pachauri? Why none other then the head of the International Panel on Climate Change.

So it looks like you only have to be a scientist to be allowed to find any fault with global warming or any of its constituent parts but if you think global warming is just peachy why it's a big tent and no admission is charged!

And since no discussion of global warming would be complete without mention of this is....Climategate.

Anonymous said...

Michael Crichton = Medical Doctor = applied scientist

Al Gore = career politician / camera hog. The most science he studied was part of the general education in college. That's like saying Carly Fiorina is an engineer.

Doug said...

Does it really matter who says something if it is true? Science has reproducible observations and if someone doesn't agree, then they can run the experiment and try to get different results. Antrhopogenic Global Warming is a Farce. Those involved in the research are cooking their books to make it look like their point of view is correct and won't share their data. How does that help?

Ellen K said...

Crichton was a doctor, if memory serves. Doctors are highly schooled in science and in the scientific method. That's something the AGW researchers were clearly lacking in their training.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Doug, Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't and never has been a scientific debate. The state of the science is simply isn't mature enough to issue sweeping predictions.

It's a political debate between those who never see any fault in the imposition of their will on others and those who think you need a pretty darned good case before you ought to be allowed to impose your will on others.

If you've already determined that you're intellectually superior then the means by which you impose your necessarily superior views aren't that important. Solid evidence is no more worthwhile then hollering "Fire" if it gets your inferiors moving in the direction you've determined is proper. That's why the CRU had to engage in the sort of behavior in which it engaged.

Since the science doesn't bear close inspection the science has to be obscured but science is the only source of sufficient credibility with which to impress the public. So they lied.