Embarrassing: European Space Agency scientist says science = what a consensus says

The ESA’s Dr. Stephen Briggs has published 70+ papers — and still doesn’t know what science is all about.

Briggs writes in the Financial Times:

A second point concerns the use of the word “sceptic”. So-called climate sceptics are in fact climate deniers. Sceptics, among whom are by definition scientists since the scientific method has relied for more than 2,000 years on scepticism, require evidence for testing of a hypothesis but accept it when reasonably proven. The article points out that some 98.4 per cent of published scientific articles lie on one side of the climate debate and 1.2 per cent on the other. This is a much more complete agreement among the scientific community than on almost any other topic. One does not believe in climate change as an act of faith – it is not a religious experience – but one examines the evidence. The facts are demonstrated; those who wish to ignore them are not climate change sceptics, they are climate change deniers.

Science is about the data say — not the consensus.

48 thoughts on “Embarrassing: European Space Agency scientist says science = what a consensus says”

  1. The comments are too long and philosophical. Ignore the topic and tell everybody how smart you are. History has shown that the consensus is usually wrong.

  2. I haven’t contradicted anything you say, so it’s not clear why you are “reply”ing to me. I wouldn’t characterized climate scientists as a “mob.” Nor would I say all they have is a theory (they have data, like the temperature, humidity, and barometric record and plenty of experimental results). I don’t think anyone here or anywhere outside of academe would give one hoot what climate scientsts thought if it weren’t for CAGW — the future prospect of a castrophic warming of the global toward the end of this century (e.g., the IPCC AR4’s 3 degree C + or – .2 degrees from doubling CO2). It is this thesis alone that I am personally concerned to disprove and the rest is of no interest [to me).
    The point I’ve tried to make here is that recent attempts to demonstrate consensus among climate scientists CANNOT be dismissed as irrelevant (e.g., by saying “consensus isn’t truth”). If the case is made that there is consensu among say 97% of climate scientists that CAGW is going to happen, then the skeptics have lost. In brief, the argument to authority is indeed a valid argument if it passes my 4 filters (there may be others). It CANNOT be dismissed out of hand.

    Mr. Griffith has gone off the rails here attacking my point when what he should have done (and what I would recommend) it to challenge that there is indeed any such consensus. And we should all have handy the relevant reasons why say the Cook and the Doran and the Anderegg consensus claims are bogus. Saying merely “consensus isn’t truth” will not suffice.

  3. “If there is a scientific consensus on a given issue, skeptics are going to be ignored and rightly so.”

    What absolute rot.

  4. What you are referring to is theory. Perhaps all these ‘learned’ people have a theory, a good place to start, but they are ramming their ideas remember, not theories, down our throats because they are very knowledgeable and we’re, well, we’re just too stupid.
    Einstein would not care if his theories are not yet proven, his inquiring mind would be satisfied with experiments, discussions and arguments. That is the difference between true scientists and charlatans.
    This mob calling themselves ‘climate scientists’, God forbid, do not want you to enquire, discuss, experiment or argue. They just want you to accept what they are saying as gospel.
    Fat chance I’m going to do that.
    And I know the difference between Carbon and Carbon Dioxide.

  5. You say: “much of what you say is wrong”

    I say knowing is really as simple and as difficult as I have pointed out to you. You can know without reference to authority or consensus. You can know based upon your own capabilities of perception, mental processing, experience, and experiment. You can know something first hand. I demonstrated one such example which you choose to call “sophomoric”. What is it that you are afraid of? Being responsible for the content of your own mind? Being so unsure of your own mind that you cannot tolerate the thought that that is your only choice? You are responsible for you and the contents of your mind and no one else can be.

    Why do you so desperately desire to have a second hand existence and not stand on your own to face reality as only a human being can? For some reason you must insulate yourself from reality by endless layers of the minds of others. It is as if your only reality IS the mind of that endless and eternal other.

    I am coming to the conclusion that you don’t exist in the only meaningful way humans can exist. You exist only as a mirror copy of mirror copies who themselves are only mirror copies. Because of that, there is no point in continuing this discussion.

  6. For someone who is an expert on knowing, you don’t know much. And much of what you say is wrong, so I’d say that falls under “what you know that ain’t true.” You seem to have Kant on the brain, for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps it’s to deflect the conversation away from the point. Your post is preposterous ans sophomoric. Indeed it’s almost comical. None of it is true. None of it is relevant. It doesn’t even display much of an understanding of Kant. But none of this matters. Our conversation is over. Maybe someone else has something to say on the matter.

    As you have now stated what I wished, namely that you believe that there is no valid form of the argument to authority, that pretty much wraps it up. There’s no way to resolve this. As the saying goes, “I could agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” You are entitled to say, “Back at you.”

  7. You have identified that someone is floundering around but have failed to identify who. For a very real reason, you fail to identify that the evidence for my existence is right in front of you. The words that appear on your computer screen. Since you are basically a Kantian, you are unwilling to sense evidence in the world about you, process what you sense, and come to logical conclusions based upon that evidence.

    From the evidence you see, you know several things. One that something exists to provide the responding text, ME. That something exists to perceive that text, YOU. That the something that exists providing some of the text chooses to call himself “Lionell Griffith”. Now what that entity who calls himself “Lionel Griffith” actually is, must be deduced from all the evidence you have observed over the past several days. Am I you? NO, I am someone or something else. Am I a very smart computer program creating the message or am I a human typing the messages.

    However, since that evidence is perceived using your eyes and must be processed by your mind to draw a logical conclusion, the Kantian in you prohibits you from stating it. Give up your adherence to Kant and admit that you can know something based upon your ability to perceive the world about you and process it with your mind.

  8. I believe I have never ascertained that someone existed by asking them. So I’m not starting with you. The existence of other people is presumed in discourse. It is not something that is every brought into question. It is never to be proved nor doubted (someone who is an expert in knowledge should be aware of this, no?). In fact to doubt it is incoherent. I’ve said this already. Are you actually engaging with me or merely floundering around?

  9. The only person who seems to rely totally on what’s buzzing around in his head is you. This will be the third time a deny the truth of what you claim my theory of knowledge is. What is one to do with someone who keeps asserting an unsupported claim in the face of specific evidence to the contrary (namely my testimony about what I believe, and my actual statements from the real world (better: real world examples)?

    I’m prepared to take your word that you exist. The existence of any specific individual is always questionable. To doubt/deny the existence of others as a whole is at base an incoherent proposition. By the way, you can’t PROVE many things you believe or even claim to know. Can you prove other minds exist? Can you prove your mind exists? What facts would you point to that ‘ logically lead to this conclusion’ (operative code from your definition of proof)?

  10. This is my reply to your 3:42pm post below:

    Re-read what I actually say, to wit:
    a) your definition of proof is not dispositive.
    b) there are many kinds of proof — proof beyond the shadow of a doubt, proof beyond reasonable doubt, proof based on the preponderance of the evidence, to name just 3 in the field of law.
    c) I cite as proof ‘common parlance’ of what makes the argument by authority a fallacy and what does not. This is analogous to looking up a word in the dictionary. Do you claim that the dictionary is all BS because it’s just a massive list of authoritative assertions of meanings?
    d) I assert that your definition of what is a proof is itself only supported by…. well, nothing actually except perhaps your authority as an expert on knowing.
    e) I gave a clear example of knowing based on authority that we all [should] accept, namely, “I know there was a bittern in the garden because the groundskeeper reported it to me this morning.”
    f) not every case is one where “prove it” is relevant. (“Honey, what’s for dinner?” “Steak.” “Prove it” — good luck with that if you’re married).

    Where do you get the idea that the process of knowing something is obscure to me? I aver that I’m more knowledgeable about this that you are. To extend your philosophical metaphor, you seem to have a Cartesian view of knowledge that is totally at odd with human language use and culture. You couldn’t possible survive if you really acted on the basis of your proof criteria (Better you couldn’t survive in society– maybe in a cave or on a desert island).

    Finally, I know what I know (as do you and most of us), and for the rest we rely on what we’re told or what we experience or what decide to focus on. A lot of this is expert testimony. This is life in modern society. Presumably the last man who knew everything was Dante Alighieri.

    On a lighter note: What’s the definition of a specialist? Ans: someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. And how about a generalist? ans: someone who knows less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything.

  11. Why do you worry about empirical content? I thought your only knowledge is that stuff that is buzzing inside your skull and that you can’t know what is going on outside of it. If you do know what is going on outside of your skull, how do you know it? Or do you have some handy authority or consensus that will whisper in your ear about it? No, that won’t work. Your source of knowledge must be voices inside your head.

    Come on now. Do you exist? Do I exist? Does anything exist? If so, how do you know it?

  12. Argument from authority is never valid. Especially if all you have is the ravings of the authority. I don’t give a damn if the entire population of the earth thinks otherwise. Argument from popularity is also invalid if it is used to say something other than what is popular. How about sticking to reality? Oh sorry. You don’t recognize the existence of reality let alone that it is knowable.

    Are you sure that you even exist. Perhaps you are a figment of my imagination. If so, I need to trade in my imagination for a new model.

  13. This entire post is without empirical content and furthermore is totally wrong. I’m not sure it even makes sense (what is a “self-consistent Kantian”? what is a “self reference [comment]” what is a “mental content?”). Where does all this pseudo-philosophical jargon come from?

  14. Simple question: Do you believe that the argument to authority is NEVER a valid argument? Yes or no?

    Extra credit: If you answer “Yes, it’s never valid”, how do you account for so many who disagree with you? (say from googling “argument to authority)

  15. “It has to relationship to anything external to your mind.: should read: “It has no relationship to anything external to your mind.”

    Yes, I make mistakes but I have a way of detecting and correcting them without referral to a consensus or authority.

  16. Again, you prove my point. Your comment is at best self reference and not related to anything real external to your own mental contents. I will say, you are a self consistent Kantian. All you allow yourself to know is whatever is rattling about inside your skull. Objective reality is beyond your ability or will to investigate.

    What you say is not even wrong. It has to relationship to anything external to your mind.

  17. In other words, you can’t prove what you say. All you can do is assert, rely on authority, and rely on consensus which itself relies on authority. Even that second hand authority relies on a still deeper level of authority. Again, forever regressing into the dark abyss of a dim and undiscovered past. Yet, you are quite willing to rely on such an endless spiral of zeros. Interesting.

    It seems that the process of knowing is a total mystery to you as well as is the process of verifying and validating what you know. Somewhere somehow someone must have discovered how to know, verify, and validate. Otherwise we would not have our current high tech society. It stands and it works and, for the most part, reliably so.

    Why are you not interested in the methods they used? It can’t be by reliance on authority and consensus because that simply infinitely regresses to some earlier level of authority and consensus. Someone must have sometime been first. In fact, there are many things I have discovered, verified, and validated independently of authority and consensus. There are even things that I know that few others know and I was the first to use that knowledge to make things that work and work well.

    How can you accept having a second hand knowledge that relies on that recursive decent into the dark abyss without reference to how that knowledge was discovered in the first place?

  18. Thanks for your first paragraph. The rest makes me feel like I’m reading General Jack Ripper.

  19. So we have YOUR authority to go on as to WHAT PROOF MEANS?!! And you are not even claiming to be an authority on proof!!! (or maybe that’s just a subset of your expertise on knowledge, huh?).

    There are plenty of proofs that do NOT meet your criteria. And I posit that most of what you believe and think you know could not stand up to your own standard.

    You have a bizarre sense of language as well. What’s this talk about “… state the facts of reality that logically lead to your assertion that they state the truth”? Facts don’t LOGICALLY lead to anything. You’ve got induction and deduction. Induction is NEVER conclusive and deduction is vacuous.

    You continue to assume (IMO) that I’m on the opposite side of the global warming issue than you and that [therefore] I’m arguing with my point about logic to the warmist cause. IF this is your thinking, IT IS INCORRECT.

    To cut to the chase when you challenge “the argument to authority can be valid” and I point to source material that [to the level of investigation I’ve made] all confirms what I’m saying, it is JUST SILLY to ask for further proof. Before you continue with this discussion WILL YOU PLEASE google “argument to authority” and confirm what I’m saying?

  20. Finally we agree on something. Popper not only has nothing to do with what you are saying. There is not much of anything that has anything to do with what you say.

    In particular, Popper has nothing relevant to say about science and the discovery of truth. His is all pretense that one discovers truth from proving something false and studying what isn’t. Truth has nothing to do with what isn’t. It is ONLY about what is.

    Nothing has no properties to discover, has no dimensions to measure, and has no capability to affect any other existent entity. It is knowable only by the projection of the absence of something. Even that gives much too much substance and being to nothing. Nothing simply does not exist.

  21. Apparently you are also ignorant of what “to prove” means. To wit:
    Proof by reference to authority is not proof of anything but what the authority said. You must identify and state the facts of reality that logically lead to your assertion that they state the truth. Yet, you refuse to use the facts of reality and constantly refer to authority and reliance on something you call “expert consensus”. That is all second hand having an undemonstrated and unidentified connection to reality. They may or may not know what they are talking about and may or may not be stating it correctly but even that must be proven by reference to facts of reality and their logical connection to your assertion.

    My so called “framing error” is simply a demonstration of the value of consensus by itself for establishing truth. If one consensus can be wrong, and at least one is, then none are by themselves reliable indicators of truth. It requires reference to reality to establish said truth value. Once done, the consensus is no longer necessary. Why then rely on consensus which is at best second hand? Ditto for authority. This is true for any field you wish to discuss. Unfortunately, it is particularly so for the so called field of “climate science.”

  22. Karl Popper is more known for his ‘philosophy of science’ than as a scientist. In brief he asserts that falsifiability is the test of good science. This is more of a prescription than a fact. Indeed, it is not a scientific claim at all. It certainly does not describe all of science.

    In any event, as your are “replying” to me, I must say that Karl Popper has nothing do to with anything I’m saying here.

  23. For an “expert about knowing” you ask a lot of questions (which you presumably know the answers to, or perhaps you are merely being rhetorical….or droll?).

    Anyway, there are no “experts on knowing.” Your claim to be an authority would fail my first filter. Indeed, on a number of points in your post YOU ARE WRONG. For example, epistemology is not a science, but rather a branch of philosophy.

    You are also wrong is saying [that I’m saying] that we can only know reality by consulting experts. I do not say that anywhere. Nor do I believe it. We consult experts only rarely, as most of the time the truths are staring us in the face and when we need to consult, non-experts are perfectly acceptable (“Did you go to the movies last night?”).

    Your second paragraph is just blather. I don’t claim to be an ‘expert on experts,’ nor do I have to. I am merely pointing out what anyone who googled “argument from authority” could discover from multiple sources, namely the argument to authority can be a valid argument. Of course the devil’s in the details. We can quibble about “how much consensus is enough” or “what does it take to be an expert in this field [and more importantly] on this particular question.” We can also quibble about bias: an employee-scientist of a tobacco company currently would be highly suspect claiming smoking is safe, but what about someone who worked at a tobacco company 30 years ago…. or worked there as, say, an accountant? Or what if the claim were not about smoking, but rather second-hand smoke?

    Finally, I am not a Kantian (or what you take to be a Kantian). I did major in philosophy, and would consider myself a [later] Wittgensteinian, if anything.

  24. By “prove your assertion” I take it you mean “prove: that the argument to authority is a valid argument when various conditions are met.” I direct you to google “argument to authority” and there are countless confirmations of my interpretation.

    No one said that “scientific consensus has anything to do with scientific process.” Consensus in religion fails my first filter (the subject must be one where expertise actually exist.” In religion the relevant expertise is on the existence of God[s]. No such expertise exists).

    I think you are the victim of framing effect, to wit, you are construing my general point about the valid uses of argument to authority to climate science. This seems behind your entire last paragraph. However, I do NOT claim there’s a consensus on everything claimed as ‘climate science.’ I am a CAGW skeptic myself, but that doesn’t mean I am skeptical of every claim of climate science. As I responded to someone else, my point (about legitimate uses of argument to authority) could as easily be applied to bird watching.

  25. David,

    Endless repetition is not a proof. Prove your assertion!

    You will have to generate your proof in face of the fact that we have presented massive evidence that the so called “scientific consensus” has nothing in common with the scientific process. On the contrary, it has everything in common with a religion in which the earth is god and the consensus holds the revealed holy scripture as a dogma to be worshiped. No matter what the issue, the solution is our extinction.

    We mere mortals are held as not worthy of questioning the holy writ because we are not “certified scientists”. They are the unquestionable priesthood of this religion. We may not properly demand they prove their case, offer objective evidence, or even state their case clearly. Our only permitted function is to follow their rules and pay any tithe they demand without complaint. Our original sin is that we have used technology to improve the quality of our lives and extend our years of living and thus are to feel shamed and guilty. We are to be submissive to any of their demands. Our absolution is to come only when we choose not to live or, even better, choose not to be born.

  26. David,

    Are you an expert at knowing? Perhaps it is not obvious to you because you are an expert at not knowing rather than knowing. Perhaps it is obvious to me because I am an expert at knowing. Who are you to say that I am not?

    Since you presume it is not possible to know reality except via “experts”, what is it about your comments that have any relevance to any discussion whatsoever? Are you an expert at knowing who the experts are? What is your certification that you are an expert expert? What makes them expert at certifying you as an expert? Who certified them to certify experts at certifying experts? Its a consensus of experts all the way down into a bottomless abyss. You make my case for me. Thank you.

    You make the Kantian assumption that, since knowing about reality requires sensing, perception, rational processing, application of logic to experience and experiment, that reality as such cannot be known in and of itself. According to Kant, one can only really know without any of those things hence all knowledge is subjective (in one’s mind only). Blank out the fact that to know that this is true requires that one knows something about the reality of one’s mind and uses a proper process in which every conceptual step is logically connected to reality to know it. Kant’s and your conclusion is itself a contradiction and therefor not even false. It is not connected to reality enough to be false.

    The process of knowing is called reason: the application of logic to perception, experience, and experiment. Logic is the science of non-contradictory identification. This is a part of the science of epistemology which had to be discovered, validated, and applied. It is not an automatic process and must be chosen to be used moment by moment.

    The science of epistemology can only be suggested here. However, the fact that we live in a technological civilization that is far different from our ancestors of only a few tens of thousands of years ago attests to the fact that it is possible for man to learn and know. Otherwise we would still be living under trees digging for grubs and picking up fallen spoiled fruit for lunch.

    The interesting question is how best to learn and know. Intuition, the Kantian way, or only relying on “experts” doesn’t cut it. Someone somewhere sometime must really know on his only lonely. I have been there done that repeatedly with increasing scope and detail since birth. Have you?

  27. There are many reasons to be skeptical of the global warming scare. Indeed there are many reasons to be skeptical of any consensus about a global warming scare.

    But one thing not to be skeptical about: “If there is a scientific consensus on a given issue, skeptics are going to be ignored and rightly so.”

  28. “The fact that temperatures have flat-lined…. invalidates…” How do you know that? Maybe there are other factors that are [temporarily] overwhelming the human influence.

  29. “Most of the time consensus ignores reality.” Is that an empirical statement?… a deductive statement? or did you just “pull this out of thin air?”

  30. Bestruger1022 explain in few words the foundatios of modern science as from Karl Popper The Art of Scientific Investigation, or Conjectures and Refutatiuons,or The Open Society and its Enemies..If you want to understain why sceptis are scepticas of global warmin scare,climategate etc,you must read Karl Popper.Thank you Mr Bestruger1022.

  31. As far as I know, no other branch of science in the history of the world has been as preoccupied as climatology with the notion of ‘consensus’. That’s because it’s not science per se. It’s a *movement*. It proselytizes and evangelizes. It seeks converts. Success is found in the number of believers. Hence an almost pathological preoccupation with surveys which focus on one question: ‘Do you believe?’

    And then there’s the scientific research. Not into climate matters, but studies of how to convince people to join the global warming movement. Then there are the white papers and workshops on how to increase membership in the cause. The jockeying to get support from politicians and the media.

    Yes, consensus matters, *a lot*. It’s the life-blood of a movement.

    More conclusive than this is the fact that climatology is *not a science*. With science, you propose an hypothesis. The hypothesis must be falsifiable using empirical data. The hypothesis lives or dies by what the data say. If the hypothesis survives this trial, and is consistent with other known facts regarding the physical world, it’s accepted as a theory and expressed in terms of cause and effect.

    In climatology, these features are missing. The foundation in physical law — the behavior of gases, solids and radiation — is nearly absent. The physical data are changed to support the hypothesis, rather than the other way around. The failure of an hypothesis is ‘fixed’ by adding a *new* hypothesis. Claims of success are not couched in terms of physical law and causation, but in terms of odds and probabilities, as though the climate were a casino from which card-counters and other determinists are ejected by security.

    The most charitable interpretation of climatology is that its scientists are immovably stuck on the point of trying — and failing, thus far — to *describe* the phenomena they want to investigate. Quite simply, they’re still working on the preliminaries. They’re still trying to describe the climate — which they call ‘modeling’ — and haven’t yet reached the point where they can formulate an hypothesis.

    It’s not yet a science. For now, it’s a movement, and consensus counts.

  32. No one said “consensus is evidence.” But consensus may ‘still be enough.’ Context matters. We don’t ask for or even care about consensus what we can see for ourselves. A consensus of 2 is not as compelling as a consensus of thousands. And we don’t require unanimity for consensus. “97% of all experts” …. is quite enough.

    We rely on experts when the subject is obscure or complex or requires specialized skills or some such. I’ve give filters herein as the guidelines of when relying on “consensus of the experts” is appropriate. There may be other guidelines I’ve missed, but the reality is that in human endeavor we rely on experts, NOT because expert opinion is evidence, but rather because experts are in a better position to know, practically. We don’t rely on experts when the evidence is readily determinable by the average Joe or even the above average Joe.

  33. Maybe. Context would matter. Sometimes “why?” becomes impractical. At some point “Why?” has no answer. At some point we have to act in the face of uncertainty. And outside of mathematics and logic, “uncertainty” is a feature of all human endeavor. Any bit of knowledge can [logically] turn out to be wrong or false. We legitimately say we know things for reasons that can be unreliable. “I know there was a bittern in the garden, because the groundskeeper reported it” is an example. Maybe it wasn’t the groundskeeper, but his idiot twin brother. Maybe the bittern was a stuffed bittern put there to fool the groundskeeper. Maybe someone put the groundskeeper up to perpetrating a hoax to fool you into thinking there was a bittern. Any or all of these things are POSSIBLE, but none of these possibilities mean we can’t say we don’t know, unless of course we have reason to suspect something. But we never say we don’t know just because any of these deceptions/errors are possible.

    That’s just the way our language and culture works.

  34. As we saw with the polar bears, consensus is not enough. As a matter of fact, as soon as consensus is touted, that is the very time to doubt.
    Consensus is insufficient evidence. Moreover, it is arrogant and assumptive. All enemies of science.

  35. If there is even just one person who asks “why?’ and is not given the facts and evidence to sustain silence, then that person is morally obliged to continue to ask “why?’. Even if it annoys the dickens out of everyone else.

  36. I love the way you only have to ‘reasonably’ prove a hypothesis.
    Yes. That’s science. Stuff the facts and the evidence. You just need to be reasonable.

  37. The problem with consensus is that most of the time it ignores reality. A theory is invalidated when an exception has been found, regardless of what consensus has to say about it. The fact that temperature have flat lined during a period of increasing atmospheric carbon percentages invalidates the notion that humans are the cause of warming. Consensus chooses to ignore this.

  38. How do you know this? What you say is not obvious. So it is empirical or a priorI? What is the nature of you claims about truth? Why should we believe you? Indeed how would you ever come to this conclusion… or even suspect it? You presumably have some kind of DIRECT INTUITION of the facts (or of reality). Did you have this at birth, or did it spring fully develop once upon a time?

    Tell us, “What is reality?” And who says?

    I especially like your “it’s true because it’s actually true.”

    I posit to you, that in fields where expertise is available, when the relevant experts agree and there’s no reason to think they’re biased, what they say is true [enough] .

    I believe you are off the rails here because you are framing this question in terms of global warming. But I’m not really talking about global warming per se. I could as easily be talking about bird watching.

  39. David,

    There you go again. Dropping context and trying desperately to build a case in favor of believing in a consensus simply because it is a consensus of a particular type. You say “climate scientists” assert and therefor you believe. Why? Because they are CLIMATE SCIENTISTS.

    The assertion by a consensus that a particular thing is true contributes no truth value beyond the fact that is what the consensus asserted. This without respect to the so called certification of the members of the consensus. Said certification was, in fact, attributed to them by still another consensus who’s authority to attribute certification was itself attributed by even another consensus. Everywhere you look in the chain of attribution of authority, it is based upon another older and deeper level of consensus. Just as it was with that tired old joke “its turtles all the way down”, it is consensus all the way down. A consensus is by itself without visible support of truth value.

    Truth is determined not by a consensus of any kind but by the actual facts of reality. The facts and the truth can be seen by one or many but, even there, it is not because of head count that it is true, it is because it actually is true. Rely on consensus if you must but I strongly suggest you should verify that both you and the consensus are standing on the solid ground of reality. Otherwise, you eventually find yourself standing up to your eye balls in some not so pleasant soft brown smelly stuff.

  40. I think we’re all missing the boat: IF there is a consensus among climate scientists (say that there’s been global warming in the past 150 years, or that there’s been AGW over that time), that’s a pretty severe blow AS A MATTER OF FACT to skeptics.

    The augment from authority is NOT invalid if:
    1) The subject is one where expertise exists;
    2) there is general agreement among experts (on an issue);
    3) the expert authority in question is indeed an expert in the relevant field;
    4) there is not reason to suspect the expert in question is biased

    We accept IN FACT much of what we believe based on what we are told, and that can get us into trouble. And IN ANY SPECIFIC case events may prove well founded belief wrong. But when I want to know something, consulting an expert is common practice and generally sound (assuming the above 4 filters are applied).

    That doesn’t mean you can’t challenge the authority, or ask why in more detail — but those are ancillary matters. As often as not we don’t want to know why and that’s the reason we actually do rely on experts. Asking “why?”, “why?”, ad infinitum is impractical.

    I therefore assert that a claim to consensus is a very serious challenge and cannot be met by merely asserting “truth/science is not consensus.” In point of fact, that is the way the world operates — we trust true, identified experts on matters of their expertise if we don’t have reason to think they are biased nor that there’s any controversy among experts on the matter at hand (which is redundant if there’s consensus, no?).

  41. From my experience with European technical groups, they are divided into two mutually exclusive groups: the thinkers and the doers. The thinkers think wonderful thoughts and it is the doers responsibility to implement them. Reality is a piffle to be ignored by the thinker and left to the grubby lowlife doer to work with. On the other hand, the doer will never ever question the thoughts of a thinker. He keeps his head down and does what he is told, when he is told, and only if he is told.

    This is why it took a ragtag bunch of European rabble to found the US on the notion that the individual is sovereign and the government is to be a servant. They were both doers and thinkers who questioned each others’ doing and thinking. They eventually came to a meeting of the mind that freedom was the only state proper for man and that government must be strictly limited and must stay out of private mutually agreed to affairs. The so called progressives have worked mightily for over a century to turn the US into a pathetic clone of Europe and have almost succeeded.

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