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Consensus Science

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  • Consensus Science

    An excerpt from a lecture delivered by the late Michael Crichton at the California Institute of Technology on Jan. 17, 2003:
    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. . . .

    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. . . .

    To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: "These results are derived with the help of a computer model." But now large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world -- increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs.

    This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynman called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands.

    Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?

  • #2
    egggzactly.

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    • #3
      If you can't trust scientific consensus with historical climate (where it supposedly can be simulated and tested) then how can you trust anything about scientific consensus in relation to history?
      "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by seanD View Post
        If you can't trust scientific consensus with historical climate (where it supposedly can be simulated and tested) then how can you trust anything about scientific consensus in relation to history?
        I think you have a reading problem. "The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. "
        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
          I think you have a reading problem. "The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. "
          When situations of the past can't be tested, all that is left is consensus science. The science of climate change is merely following this convention, yet they actually assert to have simulated models to do it more precisely and accurately.
          "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by seanD View Post
            When situations of the past can't be tested, all that is left is consensus science.
            What Jedidiah said.

            See here.
            Last edited by John Reece; 08-07-2014, 04:58 PM.

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