Consensus

The following is a random collection of quotes on the subject of consensus. The collection does not claim to be exhaustive or all encompassing. admin.

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“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.”
Michael Crichton

“Those who know that the consensus of many centuries has sanctioned the conception that the earth remains at rest in the middle of the heavens as its center, would, I reflected, regard it as an insane pronouncement if I made the opposite assertion that the earth moves.”
Nicolaus Copernicus

“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.”
Michael Crichton

“A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.”
Abba Eban, Israeli diplomat (1915-2002)

“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
Richard Feynman

“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.”
Michael Crichton

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
Galileo Galilei

“There can be no ultimate statements science: there can be no statements in science which can not be tested, and therefore none which cannot in principle be refuted, by falsifying some of the conclusions which can be deduced from them.”
Karl Popper

“Why do we put up with it? Do we like to be criticized? No, no scientist enjoys it. Every scientist feels a proprietary affection for his or her ideas and findings. Even so, you don’t reply to critics, Wait a minute; this is a really good idea; I’m very fond of it; it’s done you no harm; please leave it alone. Instead, the hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Nullius in Verba. On no man’s word.
Motto of the Royal Society of London

“It appears to me that those who rely simply on the weight of authority to prove any assertion, without searching out the arguments to support it, act absurdly. I wish to question freely and to answer freely without any sort of adulation. That well becomes any who are sincere in the search for truth.”
Vincenzo Galilei Quoted in James Reston, Jr., Galileo, a Life, p. 9.

“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.”
Michael Crichton

“It is rigid dogma that destroys truth; and, please notice, my emphasis is not on the dogma, but on the rigidity. When men say of any question, “This is all there is to be known or said of the subject; investigation ends here,” that is death.”
Alfred North Whitehead

“Model-making, the imaginative and logical steps which precede the experiment, may be judged the most valuable part of scientific method because skill and insight in these matters are rare. Without them we do not know what experiment to do. But it is the experiment which provides the raw material for scientific theory. Scientific theory cannot be built directly from the conclusions of conceptual models.”
Herbert George Andrewartha, Introduction to the Study of Animal Population (1961), 181

“The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.”
Thomas Henry Huxley

“In both social and natural sciences, the body of positive knowledge grows by the failure of a tentative hypothesis to predict phenomena the hypothesis professes to explain; by the patching up of that hypothesis until someone suggests a new hypothesis that more elegantly or simply embodies the troublesome phenomena, and so on ad infinitum.”
Milton Friedman

“Pseudoscience is almost always recognizable from a distance, and easy to confirm on close examination. Science is, however, not immune from hubris, and bad science can be tougher to spot. Those of us who make a living from science or science media must display scientific integrity. We must constantly test our assumptions and fight the siren song of consensus when our data tells us to be contrarian. We must remain independent of political or religious bias in evaluating our work. We must admit when we are wrong, and remain willing to evolve when verifiable data demands change. We must admit when we are uncertain, remain humble in advances, and offer courageous and independent advice grounded in science.”
K. Lee Lerner