At Arstechnica, they say:
Fiction author Michael Crichton probably started the backlash against the idea of consensus in science. Crichton was rather notable for doubting the conclusions of climate scientists—he wrote an entire book in which they were the villains—so it’s fair to say he wasn’t thrilled when the field reached a consensus.
Still, it’s worth looking at what he said, if only because it’s so painfully misguided:
‘Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus.’
In physics, where particles either exist or don’t, five standard deviations are required.
While that makes the standards of evidence sound completely rational, they’re also deeply empirical. Physicists found that signals that were three standard deviations from the expected value came and went all the time, which is why they increased their standard. Biologists haven’t had such problems, but other problems have popped up as new technology enabled them to do tests that covered tens of thousands of genes instead of only a handful. Suddenly, spurious results were cropping up at a staggering pace. For these experiments, biologists agreed to a different standard of evidence.
It’s not like they got together and had a formal vote on it. Instead, there were a few editorials that highlighted the problem, and those pieces started to sway the opinions of not only scientists but journal editors and the people who fund grants. In other words, the field reached a 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.'” As a STEM major, I am somewhat biased toward “strong” evidence side of the argument. However, the more I read literature from other, somewhat-related fields (i.e. psychology, economics and climate science), the more I felt they have little opportunity to repeat experiments, similar to counterparts in traditional hard science fields. Their accepted theories are based on limited historical occurrences and consensus among the scholars.
Given the situation, it’s important to understand what “consensus” really means.
Full story here
h/t to nerdyalien
Here is a consensus case in point: The book Hundert Autoren Gegen Einstein (A Hundred Authors Against Einstein), is a collection of criticisms of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Published in 1931, it contains short essays from 28 authors, and published excerpts from 19 more. The rest of the 100 against Einstein was a list of 53 people who were also opposed to his theory of relativity for various reasons.
When asked about this book, Einstein retorted with this:
“Why 100 authors? If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!”
In the case of the ‘Skeptic Science’ claimed ’97 percent’, we have at least three.
Surely that must be enough, unless of course this isn’t about science at all, but about the politics of power, oh, and money.