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CONSENSUS?
Posted: 17 August 2011 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I just posted this over at SkepticForum but I’m thinking it might be an interesting conversation starter here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


What is this constant attacking of “consensus” science? 

Boy oh boy, were does that “Science is not done by consensus” mindset originate?

Believing that sort of meme shows a deep misunderstanding of how science is done.  Consider the research process, at the earliest stages of any endeavor, there’s wide ranging possibilities and room for a great deal of speculation.  Plenty of room for renegades and new thinkers and creative inspirations there.

But, breakthroughs that lead to actual usable outcomes must be replicated by others.  Every step of someone’s work must pass muster before the general community (that’s what pisses off so many quacks… but what can ya say.)

Replicate-ability of findings is a cornerstone of science. . . ergo consensus is a cornerstone of science.

Think about that, other scientists must be able to replicate one’s work before anyone takes it seriously… that is what consensus is all about.  Do AGW hoaxers and assorted skeptics think there is something wrong with that?  Why?

Consensus means that your information has been vetted by knowledgeable people, disagreements, errors, and all sorts of other angles are discussed at these big scientific gatherings and in between.  At the end of the day when many different folks are in agreement with documented and formalized information, then we have a consensus. 

A hundred… a thousand good expert minds working together are much better than one,
seems to me that is what consensus is all about.

~ ~ ~

So how is it we have allowed an agenda outcomes focused private-corporate movement, with incredible public relations expertise and a monopoly on public media outlets, megaphone, to turn consensus into a dirty word?
Why are people so gullible?

Why do the Lindzen’s and Spencer’s and who all’s demonstrably deeply-flawed papers and assertions… and then worst the totally misleading spin of those assertions, receive in their echo-chamber headlines . . .

Why does this theater deserve to out-shout the collective Scientific Consensus?

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Posted: 17 August 2011 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s a little repetitive, but will revisit that later wink

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Posted: 17 August 2011 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Pretty much anyone attacking consensus science is a crank or someone with an agenda. Brilliant, paradigm-changing scientists don’t typically attack the consensus, because they believe (and the best of them really know) that the consensus will eventually come around to their point of view if and when they do their work thoroughly.

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Posted: 17 August 2011 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 17 August 2011 10:48 AM

I just posted this over at SkepticForum

Good luck over there. You have far more patience than I possess if you can hang out in that place.

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Posted: 17 August 2011 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I strolled over there and read the disheveled arguments; many of those people have difficulty articulating their thoughts, don’t they? In any case, the confusion about the role of scientific consensus arises from the differences between individual consideration and group consideration. When an individual considers an issue, that person should consider only the evidence, and not be swayed by the group consensus. But when the group must make a decision, the group relies upon the consensus to make its decision. This is all because a group is composed of different individuals, with different opinions.

Of course, we must also distinguish between a group of experts and an individual lacking the expertise of the group. If the gap in expertise between the group average and the individual is large, then the individual is best advised to embrace the consensus of the group. If, on the other hand, the individual possesses expertise in the subject at hand, then that individual should rely on the evidence instead of the consensus.

On the matter of climate change, the gap between the expertise of climatologists as a group and the typical denier is humongous, and so the denier possessed of intellectual integrity would embrace the consensus of the group of climatologists—which means that he wouldn’t be a denier any more.

The way to challenge the denier who spouts this nonsense is to challenge them to declare their knowledge of the evidence. Just cite a few random scientific papers referenced in, say, IPCC AR7 WG1 and demand to know if the denier is familiar with the evidence in the paper. Run through a list of these papers and then, when the denier has admitted that he is not familiar with that evidence, ask him how he can rely on the evidence rather than the consensus when he doesn’t know the evidence in the first place.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 12:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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DarronS - 17 August 2011 03:29 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 17 August 2011 10:48 AM

I just posted this over at SkepticForum

Good luck over there. You have far more patience than I possess if you can hang out in that place.

I see it as writing practice.  Besides I’m sort of a reactionary guy, so they spur me to research stuff I haven’t fully explored yet.
Besides, it’s fun irritating the old farts now and then.*


You got any nifty thoughts on the consensus debate?


*Oh besides no one will argue climate issues with me here anymore. . . gotta go somewhere
  tongue wink

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Posted: 18 August 2011 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Chris Crawford - 17 August 2011 06:32 PM

I strolled over there and read the disheveled arguments; many of those people have difficulty articulating their thoughts, don’t they? In any case, the confusion about the role of scientific consensus arises from the differences between individual consideration and group consideration. When an individual considers an issue, that person should consider only the evidence, and not be swayed by the group consensus. But when the group must make a decision, the group relies upon the consensus to make its decision. This is all because a group is composed of different individuals, with different opinions.

Of course, we must also distinguish between a group of experts and an individual lacking the expertise of the group. If the gap in expertise between the group average and the individual is large, then the individual is best advised to embrace the consensus of the group. If, on the other hand, the individual possesses expertise in the subject at hand, then that individual should rely on the evidence instead of the consensus.

On the matter of climate change, the gap between the expertise of climatologists as a group and the typical denier is humongous, and so the denier possessed of intellectual integrity would embrace the consensus of the group of climatologists—which means that he wouldn’t be a denier any more.

The way to challenge the denier who spouts this nonsense is to challenge them to declare their knowledge of the evidence. Just cite a few random scientific papers referenced in, say, IPCC AR7 WG1 and demand to know if the denier is familiar with the evidence in the paper. Run through a list of these papers and then, when the denier has admitted that he is not familiar with that evidence, ask him how he can rely on the evidence rather than the consensus when he doesn’t know the evidence in the first place.

Other than resembling some of those people who have difficulty articulating their thoughts, very cool post.  I like how you brought the question of expertise into it and the balance between individual and group.  Going to reread this post a few times.  Might even share large chunks of it to see what conversation it might stir over their.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Over at SkepticForum, xouper raises some good points. But I’m not sure that citing the scientific consensus is an argument ad populum. The reason argument ad populum is fallacious is because the majority opinion can be wrong, and the arguer has skipped the step of showing why the majority opinion might be correct. However, we know that scientific consensus is based on scientists examining or gathering evidence for themselves and arriving at a conclusion. Therefore, if we believe that the scientific method is the best method for arriving at true beliefs about the physical world, and that scientists use this method to arrive at scientific consensus, it should not be considered an argument ad populum to use the scientific consensus in an argument.

Also notice the wiki on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority :

The strength of this argument depends upon two factors:[1][2]
The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.
A consensus exists among legitimate experts on the matter under discussion.

In other words, it is not fallacious if there is a consensus among legitimate experts.

Therefore, basing one’s beliefs on the scientific consensus is rational. And denying the consensus is irrational, unless you have legitimate evidence to support your denial, and AGW deniers do not.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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domokato - 18 August 2011 11:26 AM

Over at SkepticForum, xouper raises some good points. But I’m not sure that citing the scientific consensus is an argument ad populum. The reason argument ad populum is fallacious is because the majority opinion can be wrong, and the arguer has skipped the step of showing why the majority opinion might be correct. However, we know that scientific consensus is based on scientists examining or gathering evidence for themselves and arriving at a conclusion. Therefore, if we believe that the scientific method is the best method for arriving at true beliefs about the physical world, and that scientists use this method to arrive at scientific consensus, it should not be considered an argument ad populum to use the scientific consensus in an argument.

Rock’n Roll, thank you, excellent.
I knew there was a reason I love coming back here, some smart folks over here.  grin

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Posted: 18 August 2011 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Oh for what it’s worth here’s my latest post over there.

“L” says: First of all, its not a consensus.  Out-shouting all the thousands of voices who challenge your “consensus” isn’t how science or good skepticism works.

Right!  That’s why I share that flood of direct studies and lessons. 

Hey, wait a minute. . .  you by any chance implying that me offering a torrent of actual factual links to educational articles along with more links to first hand science sources regarding various aspects of what is happening upon our planet is akin to “shouting”? . . .  You aren’t doing that, are you?

“L” says: Science that stops on a consensus is dead.

This is an irritating straw man.  It’s exactly this sort of subtle sinister twist of logic that has drug this global warming discussion into the hideous gutter it’s in.  ~ 
No one claims consensus mean the end to learning!

Why do you seem to willfully ignore that when scientists say consensus, they never mean certitude, they include caveats and error margins and lists of further areas that need more studying?
~ ~ ~

And you talk about “out-shouting?” 
What is it when FOX TV can have a recognized meteorologist Bastardi spew utter stupidity and lies about the dynamics of global warming,
or what about the censorship The Wall Street Journal is guilty of ?  All in order to mislead. 
I, we little people, can’t scream a fraction loud enough to touch their “Out-shouting” of true facts.  But some folks still need to bare witness.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


For instance, here’s an aside:
Like the “Trenberth travesty” and all the crap-hay made of that.
When in fact, what the Trenberth travesty actually showed is that Trenberth and his fellow climatologists are critically looking at their results, defining the weaknesses, and developing new strategies for overcoming those weaknesses.
 
But, what happened in the media?  A situation that represented scientists doing exactly what they are supposed to do was distorted and manipulated with lie upon lie piled into the mix….... into a grotesque completely misleading narrative, which I’ve heard repeated, even, by some of you skeptical folks? What up with that?, do you also only look one way when you cross the street?

Then some “skeptical” folks project this impression of… well that cool, can’t be sure of nothing you know… no worries.  It’s like such folks think it’s all about playing intellectual head games… but there is a real world out here that folks simply aren’t paying enough attention to.  Why be so glib about it?

Let’s recall what the Trenberth “travesty” was actually about?  Basically, Trenberth pointed out that there are known gaps in our understanding for the complete energy budget… they couldn’t account for a fraction of the heat our planet was known to be holding in.  There was much discuss of this and strategies were devised for focusing in on the blank areas of their map {actually energy flow budget} to better understand it.  And while the contrarian machine keeps plugging along, these cliamatologist also continued to plug along, and have made great strides in filling in those blank spot.  The increased focus on Arctic soot’s dynamics is a part of that process.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 18 August 2011 02:29 PM

Oh for what it’s worth here’s my latest post over there.

<snip>

I, we little people, can’t scream a fraction loud enough to touch their “Out-shouting” of true facts.  But some folks still need to bare witness.

Nice post, but’s what’s with the naked witnessing? grin

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Posted: 18 August 2011 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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DarronS - 18 August 2011 02:41 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 18 August 2011 02:29 PM

Oh for what it’s worth here’s my latest post over there.

<snip>

I, we little people, can’t scream a fraction loud enough to touch their “Out-shouting” of true facts.  But some folks still need to bare witness.

Nice post, but’s what’s with the naked witnessing? grin

LOL  LOL
now you got me all thinking of ladies again.
LOL  LOL Well sometimes I do get carried away, maybe it had something to do with playing to that audience i guess.
or maybe I’m just trying to justify this weird little obsession of mine.
Oh, and yes I corrected my spelling, which seems to be getting worse rather than better,  the decline is barreling down on me too.
I know I should take better care of myself than I’ve been doing lately, but hell do I really want to live another twenty, thirty years? I’m scared shitless of what’s coming at us.

For what it’s worth I just posted this over there.

I started this same thread over at my other haunt Center For Inquiry.  Here are a couple highlights that I think are worth sharing over here, I’m curious how it jives with some of you folks?

C writes: . . . the confusion about the role of scientific consensus arises from the differences between individual consideration and group consideration. When an individual considers an issue, that person should consider only the evidence, and not be swayed by the group consensus. But when the group must make a decision, the group relies upon the consensus to make its decision. This is all because a group is composed of different individuals, with different opinions.

Of course, we must also distinguish between a group of experts and an individual lacking the expertise of the group. If the gap in expertise between the group average and the individual is large, then the individual is best advised to embrace the consensus of the group. If, on the other hand, the individual possesses expertise in the subject at hand, then that individual should rely on the evidence instead of the consensus.

On the matter of climate change, the gap between the expertise of climatologists as a group and the typical denier is humongous, and so the denier possessed of intellectual integrity would embrace the consensus of the group of climatologists—which means that he wouldn’t be a denier any more.

============

D writes:  Over at SkepticForum, xouper raises some good points. But I’m not sure that citing the scientific consensus is an argument ad populum.

The reason argument ad populum is fallacious is because the majority opinion can be wrong, and the arguer has skipped the step of showing why the majority opinion might be correct.

However, we know that scientific consensus is based on scientists examining or gathering evidence for themselves and arriving at a conclusion. Therefore, if we believe that the scientific method is the best method for arriving at true beliefs about the physical world, and that scientists use this method to arrive at scientific consensus, it should not be considered an argument ad populum to use the scientific consensus in an argument.

Also notice the wiki on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority :
The strength of this argument depends upon two factors:

The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.

A consensus exists among legitimate experts on the matter under discussion.

In other words, it is not fallacious if there is a consensus among legitimate experts.

Therefore, basing one’s beliefs on the scientific consensus is rational. And denying the consensus is irrational, unless you have legitimate evidence to support your denial, and AGW deniers do not.


PS.  I’m not sure of the etiquette, when I cross post someone else’s comments I tend to shrink their name to an initial, since I haven’t asked permission or anything like that.

[ Edited: 20 August 2011 09:09 AM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 18 August 2011 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 17 August 2011 10:48 AM

What is this constant attacking of “consensus” science? 

Why do we need a special term “consensus science.” Science is science and its methods of validation of claims are well known. New terms should be introduced only if needed. Who appended this adjective and for what purpose?
.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Why do we need a special term “consensus science.” Science is science and its methods of validation of claims are well known. New terms should be introduced only if needed. Who appended this adjective and for what purpose?

Excellent point!

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Posted: 18 August 2011 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I just registered for that forum.  After looking at it for a few minutes, I’ve decided I’ll stick with this one. 

Occam

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Posted: 18 August 2011 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Ludwik Kowalski - 18 August 2011 05:45 PM

Why do we need a special term “consensus science.” Science is science and its methods of validation of claims are well known. New terms should be introduced only if needed. Who appended this adjective and for what purpose?

It’s to distinguish it from cutting edge or fringe science. There was a time when plate tectonics was not “consensus”, that is it was not accepted by the vast majority of practicing geologists. It was considered fringe. It was science nonetheless—AFAIK nobody claimed it was voodoo, but it took time before it became something that was included in textbooks and credibly understood to be true.

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