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Encyclopedia > Scientific consensus

Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of science at a particular time. Scientific consensus is not, by itself, a scientific argument, and is not part of the scientific method; however, the content of the consensus may itself be based on both scientific arguments and the scientific method. Nevertheless, claims of consensus in the context of scientific debate are fallacious (see argumentum ad populum ). For example, that the Earth is flat was once the consensus opinion. This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... An argumentum ad populum (Latin: appeal to the people), in logic, is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges that In ethics this argument is stated, This type of argument is known by several names[1], including appeal...


Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the process of publication, and peer review. These lead to a situation where those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating that to outsiders can be difficult. On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the "inside" to the "outside". In cases where there is little controversy regarding the subject under study, establishing what the consensus is can be quite straightforward. Scientific consensus may be invoked in popular or political debate on subjects that are controversial within the public sphere but which are not controversial within the scientific community, such as evolution[1][2] or climate change[3][4]. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ... This article is about evolution in biology. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Contents

Philosophy

The issue of consensus is important in the philosophy of science. The view that the goal of science is the creation of such a consensus holds that the scientist is a skeptic using his or her analytical and critical thinking faculties to evaluate all evidence presented before delivering an opinion. Unlike other forms of knowledge, scientific knowledge consists of messages that are consensible — that is they can be mutually understood so that they can be evaluated for agreement or dissent and have the possibility of becoming part of the consensus. Thus, consensibility is a prerequisite for consensuality.[1] Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, especially in the natural sciences and social sciences. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... are you kiddin ? i was lookin for it for hours ...


There are always outliers, remaining advocates of earlier ideas which have been superseded, cliques or individuals with unique points of view or with new ideas which have not yet been thoroughly tested, and other dissidents. Each of these groups can be quite forceful in pushing their points of view and are. As science impinges on society, societal groups become advocates of outlying theories for policy purposes, not scientific ones, giving them a megaphone as it were. Look up crank in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


A final problem in understanding the value of a consensus is the tendency to exaggerate the number of times that a consensus has been overthrown by an outside theory. By its nature there are many more ideas that fail than those that become established. Since progress is almost always incremental, radically new ideas that become accepted are very rare and often years and stringent testing is required before they do so. There is a natural tendency to overestimate the value of radically new ideas. By their nature newspapers and magazines, looking for good stories do so, and so do some of the best scientific publications such as Nature and Science.


Lack of substantial doubt

In its strongest form, the term is used to assert that on a given question scientists within a particular field of science have reached an agreement of rational opinion without substantial doubt, through a process of experimentation and peer review (see scientific method). Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... From Latin ex- + -periri (akin to periculum attempt). ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ...


For example, in physics there exists scientific consensus on general relativity and quantum mechanics. Special relativity and quantum mechanics are unified in the framework of quantum field theory (QFT). There exists scientific consensus that QFT is a very useful description, but it is not a final theory. For example, it does not include gravity. General relativity and quantum mechanics may be unified by superstring theory but there is no consensus whether this candidate unifying theory is the correct description of reality. Physics (Greek: (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the fundamental laws of the universe. ... General relativity (GR) [also called the general theory of relativity (GTR) and general relativity theory (GRT)] is the geometrical theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915/16. ... Fig. ... The special theory of relativity was proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in his article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. Some three centuries earlier, Galileos principle of relativity had stated that all uniform motion was relative, and that there was no absolute and well-defined state of rest... Quantum field theory (QFT) is the application of quantum mechanics to fields. ... Gravity is a force of attraction that acts between bodies that have mass. ... Superstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modeling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings. ...


Uncertainty and scientific consensus in policy making

In public policy debates, the assertion that there exists a consensus of scientists in a particular field is often used as an argument for the validity of a theory and as support for a course of action. Similarly arguments for a lack of scientific consensus are often encouraged by sides who stand to gain from a more ambiguous policy.


For example, there appears to be a strong scientific consensus on the causes of global warming. The historian of science Naomi Oreskes published an article in Science claiming that a survey of the abstracts of 928 science articles published between 1993 and 2003 showed none which disagreed explicitly with the notion of anthropogenic global warming.[2] In an editorial published in the Washington Post, Oreskes claimed that those who opposed these scientific findings are amplifying the normal range of scientific uncertainty about any facts into an appearance that there is a great scientific disagreement, or a lack of scientific consensus.[3]. MIT professor Richard Lindzen claimed, in turn, that there is considerable doubt within the scientific community as to whether human activity is affecting the global climate in any noticeable way.[4] In this instance, "scientific consensus" is being used by both parties as a justification for a certain policy position, and debating whether there is such a consensus becomes a fight for the validity of one policy position over the other. // Various prominent bodies have commented on global warming. ... The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humanitys understanding of science and technology has changed over the millennia. ... Naomi Oreskes is an Associate Professor, History Department and Program in Science Studies at the University of California San Diego. ... Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). ... [[Image:GIS_Global_1880_2005. ... ... Mapúa Institute of Technology (MIT, MapúaTech or simply Mapúa) is a private, non-sectarian, Filipino tertiary institute located in Intramuros, Manila. ... Richard Siegmund Lindzen (born 1940) is an atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at MIT renowned for his research in dynamic meteorology - especially atmospheric waves. ...


Similarly many creationist organizations have argued that there is considerable debate over the theory of evolution, and used this to justify claims that evolution not be considered the only possibility for education in scientific curriculum. Opponents of these creationists, such as the late biologist Stephen Jay Gould, have claimed that the creationists misunderstand the nature of the debate, which is not about whether evolution occurred, but how it occurred.[5] Again, in this instance "scientific consensus" is seen, if it exists, as mandating a certain form of policy, and disputing whether it exists is the way of combating this mandate. Creationism is generally the belief that the universe was created by a deity, or alternatively by one or more powerful and intelligent beings. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... It has been suggested that Darwinian Fundamentalism be merged into this article or section. ...


The inherent uncertainty in science, where theories are never proven but can only be disproven (see falsification), poses a problem for politicians, policymakers, lawyers, and business professionals. Where scientific or philosophical questions can often languish in uncertainty for decades within their disciplinary settings, policymakers are faced with the problems of making sound decisions based on the currently available data, even if it is likely not a final form of the "truth". In this respect, going along with the "scientific consensus" of the day can prove dangerous in some situations: nothing looks worse on a record than making drastic decisions based on theories which later turned out to be false, such as the compulsory sterilization of thousands of mentally ill patients in the US during the 1930s under the false notion that it would end mental illness. Certain domains, such as the approval of certain technologies for public consumption, can have vast and far-reaching political, economic, and human effects should things run awry of the predictions of scientists. Falsification may mean: The act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory. ... Compulsory sterilization programs are government policies which attempt to force people to undergo surgical sterilization. ...


Additionally, because of the inherently uncertain aspect of scientific knowledge, it is easy for political opponents to emphasize the constructed nature of facts employed, making the argument that the claim of "science" is just a way of justifying whatever opinion one wants to go with. As such, the domain of science and policy has been an area of constant controversy since at least the beginning of the twentieth century, but especially so in the period after World War II. A social construction, social construct or social concept is an institutionalized entity or artifact in a social system invented or constructed by participants in a particular culture or society that exists because people agree to behave as if it exists, or agree to follow certain conventional rules, or behave as... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


How consensus can change over time

There are many philosophical and historical theories as to how scientific consensus changes over time. Because the history of scientific change is extremely complicated, and because there is a tendency to project "winners" and "losers" onto the past in relation to our current scientific consensus, it is very difficult to come up with accurate and rigorous models for scientific change. This is made exceedingly difficult also in part because each of the various branches of science functions in somewhat different ways with different forms of evidence and experimental approaches.


Most models of scientific change rely on new data produced by scientific experiment. The philosopher Karl Popper proposed that since no amount of experiments could ever prove a scientific theory, but a single experiment could disprove one, all scientific progress should be based on a process of falsification, where experiments are designed with the hope of finding empirical data that the current theory could not account for, indicating its falseness and the requirement for a new theory. In the scientific method, an experiment (Latin: ex-+-periri, of (or from) trying), is a set of actions of going to the bathroom. ... Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, FRS, FBA, (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian born naturalized British[1] philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. ... Falsification may mean: The act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory. ...


Among the most influential challengers of this approach was the historian Thomas Kuhn, who argued instead that experimental data always provide some data which cannot fit completely into a theory, and that falsification alone did not result in scientific change or an undermining of scientific consensus. He proposed that scientific consensus worked in the form of "paradigms", which were interconnected theories and underlying assumptions about the nature of the theory itself which connected various researchers in a given field. Kuhn argued that only after the accumulation of many "significant" anomalies would scientific consensus enter a period of "crisis". At this point, new theories would be sought out, and eventually one paradigm would triumph over the old one — a cycle of paradigm shifts rather than a linear progression towards truth. Kuhn's model also emphasized more clearly the social and personal aspects of theory change, demonstrating through historical examples that scientific consensus was never truly a matter of pure logic or pure facts.[6] Thomas Samuel Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science. ... Since the late 1960s, the word paradigm (IPA: ) has referred to a thought pattern in any scientific discipline or other epistemological context. ... Paradigm shift is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. ...


Lastly, some more radical philosophers, such as Paul Feyerabend, have maintained that scientific consensus is purely idiosyncratic and maintains no relationship to any outside truth.[7] These points of view, while provoking much discussion, have generally not caught on, even with philosophers. Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best-known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958-1989). ...

See: Theories and sociology of the history of science

The sociology and philosophy of science, as well as the entire field of science studies, have in the 20th century been preoccupied with the question of large-scale patterns and trends in the development of science, and asking questions about how science works both in a philosophical and practical sense. ...

Scientific consensus and the scientific minority

In a standard application of the psychological principle of confirmation bias, scientific research which supports the existing scientific consensus is usually more favorably received than research which contradicts the existing consensus. In some cases, those who question the current paradigm are at times heavily criticized for their assessments. Research which questions a well supported scientific theory is usually more closely scrutinized in order to assess whether it is well researched and carefully documented. This caution and careful scrutiny is used to ensure that science is protected from a premature divergence away from ideas supported by extensive research and toward new ideas which have yet to stand the testing by extensive research. However, this often results in conflict between the supporters of new ideas and supporters of more dominant ideas, both in cases where the new idea is later accepted and in cases where it is later abandoned. (See: List of minority-opinion scientific theories). It has been suggested that Myside bias be merged into this article or section. ... A minority-opinion, or unpopular, scientific theory is a scientific theory which has not gained wide-spread acceptance in the scientific community, usually because of lack of supporting evidence, or because it challenges a well-established current theory or scientific assumption. ...


Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions discussed this problem in detail. Several examples of this are present in the relatively recent history of science. For example: Thomas Samuel Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science. ... 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar). ... A chained book in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University A Chinese bamboo book, in a collection at the University of California, Riverside. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

There are countless examples of new ideas that were shown to be wrong. Two of the classics are N rays and polywater. Although some believers still exist, cold fusion is generally considered to belong to this class. Plates in the crust of the earth, according to the plate tectonics theory Continental drift refers to the movement of the Earths continents relative to each other. ... Alfred Wegeners theory of continental drift was widely ridiculed in his day Alfred Lothar Wegener (Berlin, November 1, 1880 – Greenland, November 2 or 3, 1930) was a German interdisciplinary scientist and meteorologist, who became famous for his theory of continental drift. ... Alexander Logie du Toit (March 14, 1878 – February 25, 1948) was a South African geologist. ... Arthur Holmes (January 14, 1890 – September 20, 1965) was a British geologist. ... Symbiogenesis refers to the merging of two separate organisms to form a single new organism. ... Lynn Margulis Dr. Lynn Margulis (born March 15, 1938) is a biologist and University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. ... Punctuated equilibrium, or punctuated equilibria, is a theory of evolution which states that changes such as speciation can occur relatively quickly, with long periods of little change—equilibria—in between. ... It has been suggested that Darwinian Fundamentalism be merged into this article or section. ... Dr. Niles Eldredge (born August 25, 1943) is an American paleontologist, who, along with Stephen Jay Gould, proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium in 1972. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... A prion (IPA: .[1][2] ) — short for proteinaceous infectious particle that lacks nucleic acid (by analogy to virion) — is a type of infectious agent made only of protein. ... Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs, also known as prion diseases) are a group of progressive conditions that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals and are transmitted by prions. ... Stanley B. Prusiner, M.D. (born May 28, 1942) is a Professor of Neurology and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco. ... A nucleic acid is a complex, high-molecular-weight biochemical macromolecule composed of nucleotide chains that convey genetic information. ... Binomial name Helicobacter pylori ((Marshall 1985) Goodwin 1989) Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that infects the mucus lining of the stomach and duodenum. ... Barry James Marshall, FRS FAA (born 30 September 1951 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia) is an Australian physician and Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Western Australia. ... J. Robin Warren (born June 11, 1937 in Adelaide) is an Australian pathologist and researcher who is credited with the 1979 discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. ... List of Nobel Prize laureates in Physiology or Medicine from 1901 to the present day. ... The so-called N rays (or N-rays) were a phenomenon described by French scientist Ren -Prosper Blondlot but subsequently shown to be illusory. ... Polywater was a hypothetical polymerized form of water that was the subject of much scientific controversy during the late 1960s. ... This article is about the nuclear reaction. ...


See also

This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Medical consensus is a public statement on a particular aspect of medical knowledge available at the time it was written, and that is generally agreed upon as the evidence-based, state-of-the-art (or state-of-science) knowledge by a representative group of experts in that area. ... Cudos is an acronym used to denote principles that should guide good scientific research. ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... A minority-opinion, or unpopular, scientific theory is a scientific theory which has not gained wide-spread acceptance in the scientific community, usually because of lack of supporting evidence, or because it challenges a well-established current theory or scientific assumption. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Yogesh Malhotra, Role Of Science In Knowledge Creation: A Philosophy Of Science Perspective. 1994.
  2. ^ Naomi Oreskes, "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change." Science 306:5702 (3 December 2004): p. 1686. Accessed 7 July 2006.
  3. ^ Naomi Oreskes, "Undeniable Global Warming." Washington Post (26 December 2004): B07.
  4. ^ Richard S. Lindzen, "Don't Believe the Hype." Opinion Journal, Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2006
  5. ^ Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory," May 1981; in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994: 253-262.
  6. ^ Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.
  7. ^ Paul K. Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. Atlantic Highlands : Humanities Press, 1975.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Scientific consensus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1528 words)
Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of scientists in a particular field of science at a particular time.
Where scientific or philosophical questions can often languish in uncertainty for decades within their disciplinary settings, policymakers are faced with the problems of making sound decisions based on the currently available data, even if it is likely not a final form of the "truth".
He proposed that scientific consensus worked in the form of "paradigms", which were interconnected theories and underlying assumptions about the nature of the theory itself which connected various researchers in a given field.
Scientific consensus (311 words)
Scientific consensus is agreement among scientists that a given hypothesis or theory is true.
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.
Public policy advocates often appeal to scientific consensus to settle various issues in the fields of health, safety and conservation, when that happens to suit their own argument.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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