Author Topic: Consensus as science  (Read 326182 times)

Crunch

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Consensus as science
« on: July 26, 2019, 06:05:23 PM »
I didn’t want to derail the other thread but wanted to address this:

Basically:
1. There's an overwhelming scientific consensus.

Everyone with even a most basic education should know that science is not about consensus. If it was, you’d still be arguing for the geocentric model of the universe.

Here’s some more science by consensus:

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... Jacobs compiled a sample of 5,502 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions (he reached out to 62,469 biologists and 7,383 participated in the survey, but only 5,502 answered the pertinent questions). The biologists predominantly identified as non-religious (63 percent), liberal (89 percent and 11 percent conservative), Democratic (92 percent), and pro-choice (85 percent, only 15 were pro-life). The sample included biologists who were born in 86 countries around the world.

The findings:
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Overall, 95 percent affirmed the view that human life begins at conception.

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... Jacobs presented the explicit statement, "In developmental biology, fertilization marks the beginning of a human's life since that process produces an organism with a human genome that has begun to develop in the first stage of the human life cycle." Three-quarters (75 percent) of biologists agreed with that statement.

The scientific consensus is that, at the very moment of conception, it’s a human being.  That’s one hell of a consensus, you could easily say it was “an overwhelming scientific consensus”.

I suspect most you “science as consensus” guys are going flip positions and demand a scientific consensus be ignored now.


Wayward Son

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2019, 06:49:32 PM »
I think the difference here is between a consensus about a scientific question and a consensus about a social question.

Scientifically, I can see 95 percent of scientists agreeing that a unique life begins at conception.

But scientifically, they would have no opinion about what rights and responsibilities such a life has at conception.

Because there are things you can physically measure that can make the determination about whether the life is unique.  But there are no physical measurements that can be done to determine how much of the mother's life the zygote has a right to take.

Combine that problem with the chances of the zygote naturally reaching maturity (between 20 to 25 percent IIRC), the threats to the mother's life, and the fact that it may not be viable even after birth, the question is no longer a scientific one.

Yes, life begins at conception.  But when that life is 100 percent dependent on the mother, may not mature anyway, and may cost the mother energy or her life, then whether the zygote has the right to be born or not is not science.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2019, 07:35:15 PM »
Well, in geology, 50 years ago, the "consensus among experts" was that Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift was an outlandish theory.

50 years ago, a geologist advocating for the Bonneville and/or Missoula Flood events would have been laughed out of the room, by the scientific community no less.

Not quite 500 years ago, a certain Italian Astronomer went before a review for his outlandish theory about the Earth revolving around the Sun, rather than the Sun revolving the Earth. People tend to fixate on the Roman Catholic Church aspect of that particular encounter, but what they fail to realize is the people sitting in judgement were "well regarded scientists" in addition to being "men of the cloth."

Those are just examples I can pull off the top of my head, I seem to recall a number of other "comparatively recent" examples of scientific theories leading to proponents being laughed out of rooms by the scientific community they're presenting to. Only for them to ultimately be vindicated decades later, often after the original author had passed from old age.

That there are multiple examples present in the 20th century alone says the Scientific Community is not free from the orthodoxy of men who built careers around other competing theories.

JoshuaD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2019, 08:38:24 PM »
 I'd like to read your answers to my questions in that thread, Crunch, if you're in the mood to write them up.

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2019, 04:14:14 AM »
This all shows a basic misunderstanding of what is meant by "consensus". Yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  It is, however, a goal of the scientific method.

What it is not, and what critics often mistake it for, is some kind of end-state after which dissent is no longer welcomed. It's a handy strawman often used as a crutch by dissenters.

This strawman is often used to argue against taking action based on a given scientific consensus - for example, climate science - because dissenting research is no longer "allowed" due to the consensus.  However, that is not the case. Of course, findings that go against large amounts of previous research will face headwinds in changing conclusions - which is as it should be, for obvious reasons.

The primary driver of the "consensus" strawman, however, is the "democratization" brought on by the internet, where people can find support for just about any pet theory, and can simply avoid dealing with contrary views. Flat Earth theory, anyone?

 

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2019, 04:15:07 AM »
This is how ideas like the land based instrument temperature record being corrupted by urban heat island effects take hold and refuse to die... notwithstanding that numerous analyses of the temperature records completely refute this hypothesis.

Which brings us back to the "consensus" and the scientific method; the Koch brothers (yes, those of the Heartland Institute and numerous conservative causes) funded a working group (BEST) headed by noted skeptic Richard Muller to "prove" that UHIs were responsible for the majority of observed warming in the temperature record. 

The result was two-fold: they confirmed that there was no observable UHI effect on the temperature record, and Muller came to agree that global warming was happening, and was primarily caused by human activities - he effectively became part of the consensus.  That is all that "the consensus" really means.

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2019, 05:40:41 AM »
Quote
People tend to fixate on the Roman Catholic Church aspect of that particular encounter, but what they fail to realize is the people sitting in judgement were "well regarded scientists"
No, they were not.  At least, not what we mean today by scientists.  The scientific method was not even in its infancy at the time - there is a reason that Galileo is known as, among other things, the father of the scientific method - and one of the main reasons is because his methods were completely anathema to previous methodology, such as it was.  Trying to equate the processes by which the Catholic Church protected its hegemony with modern scientists who are trained in the scientific method is disingenuous at best.

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2019, 05:50:32 AM »
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The scientific consensus is that, at the very moment of conception, it’s a human being.
I don't think either of those words mean what you think they mean.

What observations led to the hypothesis?  And how - by what method of induction?  What experiments have been done to test this hypothesis?  What deductions were made based on the hypothesis, and how were they tested?

I'm guessing you know that none of these steps were actually taken, and that this was not a question of science, but was one of belief.

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2019, 09:11:55 AM »
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This strawman is often used to argue against taking action based on a given scientific consensus - for example, climate science ...

This strawman is often used to argue *for* taking action based on a given scientific consensus - for example, climate science.  That’s the fun part of this, it’s easy to flip the argument and use the exact same things you say to contradict you.

You combine the appeal to authority fallacy with appeal to the majority fallacy. In the case of an ideological outcome you like, you think it’s valid. In the case f an out come you dislike, you call it out for what it is (others try to reason it out in the same way for same reasons). You’re being logically inconsistent.


Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2019, 09:14:51 AM »
Quote
People tend to fixate on the Roman Catholic Church aspect of that particular encounter, but what they fail to realize is the people sitting in judgement were "well regarded scientists"
No, they were not.  At least, not what we mean today by scientists.  The scientific method was not even in its infancy at the time - there is a reason that Galileo is known as, among other things, the father of the scientific method - and one of the main reasons is because his methods were completely anathema to previous methodology, such as it was.  Trying to equate the processes by which the Catholic Church protected its hegemony with modern scientists who are trained in the scientific method is disingenuous at best.

No, it’s not. Its the exact same logical fallacy in action.  Trying to say modern scientists are the appeal to authority that really means something is just doubling down on the fallacy.

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2019, 09:16:36 AM »
I'd like to read your answers to my questions in that thread, Crunch, if you're in the mood to write them up.

I will try. It’s a longish response so may not be quick

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2019, 09:32:09 AM »
This all shows a basic misunderstanding of what is meant by "consensus". Yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  It is, however, a goal of the scientific method.

No, it’s not.

The scientific method:

1 Make an observation.
2 Ask a question.
3 Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4 Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5 Test the prediction.
6 Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

Nowhere in there is the step “take a vote”. Science does not use votes to decide what theories are true and which are false.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2019, 10:45:14 AM »
Consensus comes from other people critiquing how well you followed your method. Were your observations accurate? Was your statistical analysis correct? Are your conclusions supported? Can your results be replicated by others?

This is particularly important in climate science, epidemiology, and other fields where you can't have a control or double blind.

Pete at Home

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2019, 08:49:22 PM »
Galileo is a negative example of science by consensus.  The condemnation of mengele’s work is a positive example. In practice, power and money will inevitably Coopt any new source of authority and pay the 30 silver. 

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2019, 04:53:51 AM »
Quote
No, it’s not. Its the exact same logical fallacy in action.
Quote
The scientific method:

1 Make an observation.
2 Ask a question.
3 Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4 Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5 Test the prediction.
6 Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
Within 20 minutes, you managed to contradict yourself 100%.  For any other poster this might be surprising.  For you? Not at all.

Also, you completely missed my point about consensus not being part of the scientific method (hint: by listing out the basics of the scientific method and showing that "consensus" is not part of it, as I explicitly stated, you aren't actually disagreeing with my point)

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2019, 04:58:41 AM »
Oh and Crunch, we all did notice that you didn't actually disagree that the question posed in the opening post was not one of science.

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2019, 09:28:54 AM »
Quote
No, it’s not. Its the exact same logical fallacy in action.
Quote
The scientific method:

1 Make an observation.
2 Ask a question.
3 Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4 Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5 Test the prediction.
6 Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
Within 20 minutes, you managed to contradict yourself 100%.  For any other poster this might be surprising.  For you? Not at all.

Also, you completely missed my point about consensus not being part of the scientific method (hint: by listing out the basics of the scientific method and showing that "consensus" is not part of it, as I explicitly stated, you aren't actually disagreeing with my point)

You clearly missed your point. You said consensus was a goal, that’s what I was addressing. Consensus is not mentioned in this, not once. Not as a step nor as a goal. There is no consensus

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2019, 09:29:16 AM »
Oh and Crunch, we all did notice that you didn't actually disagree that the question posed in the opening post was not one of science.

So? What do interpret this to mean? Go ahead and finish he thought.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 09:32:53 AM by Crunch »

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2019, 12:27:15 PM »
Since induction is not your strong point, let me spell it out to you: the goal of science is to understand the physical world, using specific methodologies.  The goal is to understand it so well (in a particular area of knowledge) that there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis (see cell theory, germ theory, the kinetic theory of gases, etc).

When there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis, do you know what that is called?  It's called consensus.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2019, 01:20:57 PM »
And about Galileo. It was Copernicus who came up with the idea, and it didn't become consensus in part because of incomplete data.

Quote
Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.

It's a much better argument against theocracy, or religion in general, than it is about the danger of consensus.


Pete at Home

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2019, 01:54:50 PM »
And about Galileo. It was Copernicus who came up with the idea, and it didn't become consensus in part because of incomplete data.

Quote
Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.

It's a much better argument against theocracy, or religion in general, than it is about the danger of consensus.

“More convincing” because most people have too much at stake to think of religion as only one variety of consensus limitation.  Confining the issue to “religion” makes the speaker feel safe and immune.

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2019, 02:35:38 PM »
Since induction is not your strong point, let me spell it out to you: the goal of science is to understand the physical world, using specific methodologies.  The goal is to understand it so well (in a particular area of knowledge) that there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis (see cell theory, germ theory, the kinetic theory of gases, etc).

When there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis, do you know what that is called?  It's called consensus.

I hate to say it but...ugh...Crunch is correct on this point. The scientific method has literally nothing to do with achieving a consensus, and I have never seen a single claim in philosophy of science that the goal is to establish beliefs that are beyond dispute. In fact modern theory holds exactly the opposite: that's it is presumed that any current theory will be supplanted by a better one eventually. This goes in parallel with the fact that most day-to-day work requires accepting current theory as an axiom, especially a in lab setting, insofar as it works sufficiently well. And actually I'm not even quite sure it's clear that the goal of science is to "understand the physical world". That is at once too narrow and too broad a claim. Rather, it's the goal of science to test certain hypothesis about how things work, which is a different proposition. And even then we might be more specific and say it's to understand how they work mechanically. This type of exploration may or may not include (or be able to include) determining why things work.

It is true that according to Kuhn the trend is for a powerful theory to gain so many adherents and work so well that it becomes accepted as a popular paradigm, so in historical trends consensus does figure in to the history of science. But such consensus does not occur because we seek consensus, but rather because many people are going to be prone to make use of a theory *that works*. It's like buying good dish soap: we aren't looking to ensure that everyone is buying the same soap; rather, we want one that gets that grease off, and if it does we'll use it. If there's a 'best soap' out there then most people will use it. That is a 'consensus' about it its efficacy, but not anything to do with the point of soap being popular agreement. In this type of historical context, there literally cannot be a consensus of this type (the good type) about a theory that doesn't work, since there is no tested efficacy to sway people. The kind of consensus you seem to be talking about, where getting everyone to agree on something gives it weight, is not science nor was it ever a part of good science. If has, of course, many times been a part of bad science, where "the experts" were wrong to a man. That happens all the time, and has to do with academic trends, money interests, and all shenanigans. That is *not* the kind of consensus that is meant when discussing the acceptance of theories like electromagnetism or germ theory.


DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2019, 03:43:14 PM »
Quote
But such consensus does not occur because we seek consensus, but rather because many people are going to be prone to make use of a theory *that works*
Read what I wrote again - especially the part you literally quoted and bolded... it said nothing about seeking consensus, so why you paraphrased that section as meaning "seeking" is beyond me.
Quote
The kind of consensus you seem to be talking about, where getting everyone to agree on something gives it weight,
And again... you seem to be projecting - where did I write that the more people agreeing, the more weight a hypothesis has?  You should really be careful about putting words into other people's mouths.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 03:46:02 PM by DonaldD »

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2019, 03:50:45 PM »
As an aside, are you ever going to lay out your position and rationale in the other thread, or are you just going to continue taking pot shots from the sides, Fenring?

Pete at Home

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2019, 07:58:45 PM »
Quote
I hate to say it but...ugh...Crunch is correct on this point. The scientific method has literally nothing to do with achieving a consensus, and I have never seen a single claim in philosophy of science that the goal is to establish beliefs that are beyond dispute.


Socrates was murdered by consensus so you can expect that modern day Sophists will us appeals to consensus to appropriate scientific authority while skirting actual scientific method.

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2019, 08:51:12 PM »
Quote
But such consensus does not occur because we seek consensus, but rather because many people are going to be prone to make use of a theory *that works*
Read what I wrote again - especially the part you literally quoted and bolded... it said nothing about seeking consensus, so why you paraphrased that section as meaning "seeking" is beyond me.

I believe I was reading your sentence clearly, but it's possible that what you wrote isn't exactly what you intended to communicate. What you wrote is that *the goal* of science is to understand something so well that it's beyond dispute. "Disputation" is something that only humans do, and it's an act of challenging a claim. Something being "beyond dispute" means no one is challenging the claim, which means there is a consensus. So a rephrase of what you wrote is that the goal is science is to understand the physical world so well that there is a consensus about the result or theory. I don't think you realize how packed full of premises that statement is, one of which is that we're even capable of "solving reality" such that there cannot possibly be any dispute any more about something; another of which is that there is even an endpoint that we could name for a scientific theory; another of which is that everyone agreeing (or failing to dispute, which I admit could be a result of cowardice rather than agreement) is some kind of sign that we've reached said endpoint; etc etc. And I know of no school of thought in the philosophy of science at present that would assume any of these things. I suppose you could postulate a sci-fi setting one million years in the future where we've mastered time and space, like the Q Continuum, and can say that we "know" physics; and at such a time that we'd have achieved 'consensus' about how things work. But that type of scenario is usually not part of a discussion about current science.

Quote
Quote
The kind of consensus you seem to be talking about, where getting everyone to agree on something gives it weight,
And again... you seem to be projecting - where did I write that the more people agreeing, the more weight a hypothesis has?  You should really be careful about putting words into other people's mouths.

I got that idea from your apparent premise above that a full consensus might be taken to be a sign that we've 'completed' an area of science to a point where its findings are beyond dispute. This sort of claim gives enormous weight to consensus of a certain kind. I might have been misreading you, but if so could you explain what you meant if not this?

Quote
As an aside, are you ever going to lay out your position and rationale in the other thread, or are you just going to continue taking pot shots from the sides, Fenring?

Unfortunately I'm only equipped for potshots on this topic. I'm not knowledgeable enough to do much more than comment on form or ask the occasional question. I've read some stuff but I have some idea of the amount of knowledge I'd need to have to speak with any kind of authority on this topic, and I ain't got it.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2019, 11:04:58 PM »
I wonder if anyone has anything more recent than ancient Greece or medieval Italy as an example of consensus views in science leading to murder or house arrest.

A more recent example, quantum theory. Or the expanding universe. Both were initially greeted with skepticism, gradually won people over, and became the new consensus view. All without bloodshed.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2019, 11:58:46 PM »
I wonder if anyone has anything more recent than ancient Greece or medieval Italy as an example of consensus views in science leading to murder or house arrest.

A more recent example, quantum theory. Or the expanding universe. Both were initially greeted with skepticism, gradually won people over, and became the new consensus view. All without bloodshed.

No instead it simply languishes until a sufficient number of the current departmental figure heads and what not retire or die of other (usually natural) causes.  So now things creep along at generational levels of speed unless someone happens to find a "smoking gun" that simply cannot be ignored.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2019, 12:10:19 AM »
Also for an interesting thing that may challenge climate science in general as more (peer reviewed) deep sea data gathering starts to happen.

A suggestion that the (Multi-)Decadeal Oscillations in the Oceans might have a significant geothermal component. Don't confuse that as being the same thing as Volcanic Eruptions. It could be something more mundane like a very large "shallow hotspot" in a multitude of regions scattered across the world's ocean surface. Some of the few climate models that experimented with increased values for oceanic geothermal warming found evidence to suggest that could have "significant impacts" on ocean "overturning" circulatory flows. Logically, it makes sense too.

Further, most of the deep ocean is unexplored beyond rudimentary sonar surveys. We simply don't know what's going on down there. Further bolstering this, is as their data gathering continues to improve in the deep ocean, it seems they keep having the revise their estimate as to how much geothermal warming is going on, and the revisions keep increasing the value.

And as a potentially related item, we do have that whole "unusual behavior" for the Magnetic North Pole going on, so there could be something going on within the earth's mantle helping contribute more than slightly to the warming effect that is being observed. :P

Another postulate related to that, but not properly connected, is a few other weather events(El Nino, La nina) could potentially have a geothermal component to it as well. But I'm a lot more dubious of that one.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2019, 12:16:01 AM »
I wonder if anyone has anything more recent than ancient Greece or medieval Italy as an example of consensus views in science leading to murder or house arrest.

A more recent example, quantum theory. Or the expanding universe. Both were initially greeted with skepticism, gradually won people over, and became the new consensus view. All without bloodshed.

No instead it simply languishes until a sufficient number of the current departmental figure heads and what not retire or die of other (usually natural) causes.  So now things creep along at generational levels of speed unless someone happens to find a "smoking gun" that simply cannot be ignored.

So you think that hundreds of studies, and decades of theory should be overturned by a couple of contradictory studies? So that we can move quickly.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2019, 02:34:35 AM »
That's the fun of Science.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity doesn't contradict Newton's laws. It supplements them.

What you're taking issue with in this case, as it regards to climate science, or more particularly Climate Modeling, is the idea that the models may be wrong due to incomplete data.

Yes, "it's the best available" but when the "best available" is making guesses, educated as they may be, don't be surprised when the models get overturned in the event that some of those "unknown values" become "known values" or at least, better known.

Climate is a choatic system built on top of several other chaotic systems. Several off which we know enough about to know we've barely scratched the surface.

So be prepared for "supplementary information" that doesn't even need "new theories" to change outcomes. Just the data by itself could be enough.

And the problem with the Global Warming research as it is, would be that most efforts are focused on the surface and up. Very little of it is looking down, except for some limited research into heat absorption from the top few hundred feet and how it may be working its way into deeper water. Wouldn't that be a kick in the teeth if a significant amount of the warming that was being experienced was not coming from above, but from below? More than 2/3rds of the Earth's surface is under water, plenty of opportunity for (deep water) "hot spots" to add their own inputs into the system.

I mean heck, this was something I hadn't even considered until I just recently ran across a mention of it. But this goes back a long-standing refrain about the models: The confidence that many people place in the models has a decent chance of being misplaced.

And speaking of:

Quote
No, it’s not. Its the exact same logical fallacy in action.
Quote
The scientific method:

1 Make an observation.
2 Ask a question.
3 Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4 Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5 Test the prediction.
6 Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
Within 20 minutes, you managed to contradict yourself 100%.  For any other poster this might be surprising.  For you? Not at all.

Also, you completely missed my point about consensus not being part of the scientific method (hint: by listing out the basics of the scientific method and showing that "consensus" is not part of it, as I explicitly stated, you aren't actually disagreeing with my point)


That's a problem with the models to date. Sure some have come close. Most have been wildly off the mark, almost universally all of which have run warm compared to what we've seen. (Test failed - Step 5) But instead they keep doubling down on the models being authoritative, and many AGW types have also fouled at step 3- "Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation." Because everything now proves that climate change is real. Never mind the matter of most of their "proofs" being directly comparable to events that happened in many of those same areas in decades past. Or that other such events could be accounted for in regional models through the simple variable of land use change. Nope, it's global warming that's at fault.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 02:43:51 AM by TheDeamon »

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2019, 08:50:42 AM »
So if consensus as science is a problem, shouldn't we see this across the board? Near as I can tell, this and similar arguments are made exclusively with respect to highly politicized climate science.

ScottF

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #32 on: July 29, 2019, 09:33:00 AM »
So if consensus as science is a problem, shouldn't we see this across the board? Near as I can tell, this and similar arguments are made exclusively with respect to highly politicized climate science.

I think this is because climate science uniquely positions it's early-stage findings with large and highly impactful socio-economic transformation.

A set of prominent new theories around planetary movement, that also relied on speculative models but *didn't* come paired with disruptive change prescriptions, wouldn't see the same skeptical passion from laypeople.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 09:36:47 AM by ScottF »

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #33 on: July 29, 2019, 10:40:08 AM »
A more recent example, quantum theory. Or the expanding universe. Both were initially greeted with skepticism, gradually won people over, and became the new consensus view. All without bloodshed.

It's funny you mention these particular things, because in both cases (quantum, and cosmology) there is not any kind of consensus at the moment, and in fact views of physicists are extremely splintered on both topics and have been for some time. Part of the reason for this is that the lack of being able to employ a theory in practice takes away coming together due to the utility of a theory and leaves everyone to agree or disagree about how well it seems to fit the data in the abstract.

In the case of quantum one big question is how seriously to take the Copenhagen interpretation, or whether other theories (like pilot wave, or wormholes, or various entanglement theories, or holographic principle) aren't better ways to inspect the data. In fact in this particular field the theories are so divergent that it's sort of become vogue to propose outlandish but cool sounding theories, almost as if the field has covertly become a sci-fi convention. And this is quite a break from the historic trend in other fields where a predominating paradign does indeed win out. In the case of cosmology it is by no means agreed upon by everyone that the 'expanding universe' is well understood; and there is even some question about what "expanding even means". So yes, the data of expansion seems to be agreed upon, however even then one can ask whether it's expansion or 'conspansion' (the measuring stick changing). But beyond that you get into the whole dark energy/dark matter/how does gravity work anyhow debacle and frankly not only isn't there a consensus there but actually there isn't even a prominent theory at all to speak. You might say they're in the dark about it to a surprising degree.

But really these sorts of details are required when inspecting the field, and when discussing consensus there are so many other variables that need taking into account when referring to a consensus and trying to glean meaning from that.

Wayward Son

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2019, 11:46:02 AM »
This all shows a basic misunderstanding of what is meant by "consensus". Yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  It is, however, a goal of the scientific method.

No, it’s not.

The scientific method:

1 Make an observation.
2 Ask a question.
3 Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4 Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5 Test the prediction.
6 Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

Nowhere in there is the step “take a vote”. Science does not use votes to decide what theories are true and which are false.

What you're missing here, Crunch, is step 6: "use the results."

How do you know which results to use?

Let's say you have different, contradictory results to an experiment by two different researchers, or even by a whole slew of researchers?  Which results do you use, or do you throw them both out?  But what if some of them are liars?  What if some of them did the experiment badly?  What if there is a statistical component of the experiment, and some of them are outliers?  How do you know which ones to believe?

Obviously, you look closely at the experiments and decide which ones are better, right?  Can anyone suggest a better method?

But then, who makes that determination??  Who are you going to trust to be as unbiased as possible?  Who will be the jury?

The current approach is to let everyone make the determination, giving more weight to those who are experts in the fields.  After all, they have more to lose if they are wrong: they can lose reputation, and they can hobble themselves by believing incorrect models, which will sabotage any research they do using those models.  (If you believe the Earth is flat, any predictions based on that idea will probably come crashing down. :) )

But if everyone is making the determination, how can any of us know what is established as true and what is still undecided?  There will always be contrarians who will dispute any finding (e.g. Flat Earthers).  So how can we know what are the best theories?

One word: consensus.

If you have a vast majority of knowledgeable people agree on a certain theory, who will stake their reputations on it, and base their research on it, then it is a much higher probability that it is true than by any other method that I can imagine.  You have a group of people who know the subject--who are constantly testing the subject and trying to pry more information from the subject, who will delve even deeper into the subject to figure out why their predictions are wrong--agreeing on basics that have served them well in the past and present.  The ones who believe in theories that are true will more often make progress in their experiments and models.  Those who don't will won't make as much progress, if at all.

And, oddly enough, people like to be successful in their fields. :)

So consensus means two things: the jury of the most of the knowledgeable people agree that the theory is well-tested, and that it is being shown to be useful in further fruitful research.

Can they be wrong?  Of course.  But they are right more often than not, and certainly more often than any other method you can think of.

The best part is that, as research continues, it tends to weed out those theories that don't work.  Take TheDeamon's list of overturned theories above.  How did those theories overcome the old consensus?  By the accumulation of data and predictions being confirmed.  But then, when did we, as non-experts, know that the new theories were correct?  When the consensus of scientists agreed they were.  When they realized that the theories were better than the old ones, and would yield better results.

So, yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  But it is the best way to know which directions will probably yield further knowledge, and which directions probably won't.  Because of the opinions of those who are the most invested in finding that knowledge and have tried (or seen others try) the less-fruitful directions.

Wayward Son

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #35 on: July 29, 2019, 11:55:39 AM »
Which brings us back to original question: AGW versus "beginning of human life."

AGW consensus is based on the fact that other theories about the current increase in Earth's temperature have no yielded good results, as determined by those who are studying the field and actually want their theories to match the measured facts as closely as possible.  Certainly there are other avenues that may yield good, or even better, results.  But so far, one one has shown a study that the vast majority of climatologist believe is a good direction to pursue, except for the consensus opinion.

The consensus among biologists also agree that the beginning of human life is at conception.  But what is not agreed, what is not measurable, is how much we should value that beginning of human life.

Do four cells trump the rights of the mother?  Do those four cells mean that she has no say about how the pregnancy should proceed?  Does that forming of human life mean that the mother has no say over what happens to her body, and whether is might kill her or not?

What measurements would you suggest to answer these question?  What experiments will help us determine the correct answers?  And to what degree of certainty?  What will be the error bars of these experiments? ;)

When you are asking, "To what degree is the current warming trend attributable to CO2 increases in our atmosphere," that is a scientific questions that a consensus of scientists can provide a fair good answer.  When you are asking, "To what degree should we value the life of a developing human over its mother," that is not a scientific question that does not have a scientific answer.

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #36 on: July 29, 2019, 12:10:46 PM »
I think this is proving to be a worthy topic of discussion, because it seems there is some basic divergence even on the topic of what constitutes the proper approach to talking about science. It's hard to come to an understanding about interpretation (or finally data) when even the purpose of the discussion isn't agreed upon.

Obviously, you look closely at the experiments and decide which ones are better, right?  Can anyone suggest a better method?

But then, who makes that determination??  Who are you going to trust to be as unbiased as possible?  Who will be the jury?

This is the weird part of this sort of approach to discussion science: where did the idea of a "jury" come into it? There is no jury in science, and therefore the answer to your question is "you don't need to trust anyone" because science doesn't work based on trust. In fact the best science eliminates the human factor as much as possible, so that 'agreement' or 'compliance' become ideally irrelevant when the functionality of a theory speaks for itself.

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The current approach is to let everyone make the determination, giving more weight to those who are experts in the fields.  After all, they have more to lose if they are wrong: they can lose reputation, and they can hobble themselves by believing incorrect models, which will sabotage any research they do using those models.  (If you believe the Earth is flat, any predictions based on that idea will probably come crashing down. :) )

This is a really strange assertion. There is no such thing as "the current approach". Science is not some team sport where everyone has to agree on the rules beforehand in order to play. There is literally no need to make some over-arching determination of which theor(ies) are better in some kind of vote, and in any case there is no unification to speak of among experts in terms of them 'signing on' to the same club where members must subscribe to the same beliefs. The way you describe things sound a lot more to me like dogmatic religion than scientific work.

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There will always be contrarians who will dispute any finding (e.g. Flat Earthers).  So how can we know what are the best theories?

One word: consensus.

You'll know because experiments are repeatable that are based on those theories. And you'll know because people are making money off of it. You do know that there are no channels in the fields to establish "consensus", right? Physicists don't have polls passed around all over the world where they have to scratch in "agree" or "disagree" on various propositions. The only reason we talk about consensus in climate science is because it's been journalistically turned into a public and political fiasco. By virtue of it being political people speak of consensus, because agreement is fundamentally a political end; but certainly not a scientific one.

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So consensus means two things: the jury of the most of the knowledgeable people agree that the theory is well-tested, and that it is being shown to be useful in further fruitful research.

There is no such thing as a jury of this type. Peer review covers methodology for publication purposes, and other than that there is no general oversight over broad theories. As far as 'well-tested' goes, typically in areas of research different teams will try to reproduce interesting results independently to see if they're repeatable. More teams succeeding in this definitely lends credence to either the method or maybe a theory that led to the method.

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Can they be wrong?  Of course.  But they are right more often than not, and certainly more often than any other method you can think of.

You are making scientific research sound like playing the stock market! This is exactly the sort of thing that is said of stock experts, "they're right more often than the average person." As an aside, statistics seem to suggest it's more likely that stock experts are no better than a random number generator is, but let's leave that aside.

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So, yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  But it is the best way to know which directions will probably yield further knowledge, and which directions probably won't.  Because of the opinions of those who are the most invested in finding that knowledge and have tried (or seen others try) the less-fruitful directions.

Here you seem to be talking about some kind of efficiency calculation, where the 'likely long-term success' of a given line of research can be determined by 'the experts.' Unless you're suggesting invoking a brand new branch of science philosophy, something like "probabilistic study of research future" (which currently doesn't exist), may I assume you're rather talking more about what we sometimes call 'mainstream' thought? The funny thing is that if Kuhn is going to be taken seriously at all then we have to suppose that the mainstream understanding of which research is going in the right direction has always been wrong, without exception. If it was right we'd never have had all of these scientific revolutions.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2019, 01:06:28 PM »
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Physicists don't have polls passed around all over the world where they have to scratch in "agree" or "disagree" on various propositions.

Hmm.

article - Science News

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Science is not a democracy. Nature’s laws are not subject to the whims of popular vote. A scientific theory succeeds by providing logical explanations for puzzling phenomena and making correct predictions about the outcomes of new experiments. It doesn’t matter how many scientists believed in the theory beforehand (or even afterward, for that matter).

In fact, revolutionary new theories are seldom very popular. As Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, once noted, sometimes a theory doesn’t get widely accepted until its opponents die. Nevertheless, in certain scientific matters it’s worth knowing what most experts think. Sometimes the math is clear, and experimental results indisputable, but their implications are charged with ideological controversy. Mainstream expert judgment on such matters usually offers a better path to wisdom than wishful thinking based on philosophical predisposition.

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It’s curious. It has been more than 80 years since the mathematical framework of quantum mechanics was formulated. It has been about three decades since the first modern experiments confirmed the most outrageous consequences of quantum math. Yet physicists still argue about it, some contending that the onetime consensus interpretation (named for Copenhagen, where the Danish physicist Niels Bohr developed it), should be abandoned. But apparently the Copenhagen interpretation still gets more support from experts than any of the alternatives.

...

Einstein rejected these ideas, proclaiming that God doesn’t play dice and that the moon exists whether or not a mouse is looking at it. But he didn’t have much of a case. At a conference of quantum physicists (plus a few philosophers and mathematicians) held last year, 64 percent of 33 respondents to a questionnaire declared that Einstein was wrong. None said he was correct. A few suggested he might turn out to be right someday, and others said “we’ll just have to wait and see.”

I think what you mean to say is that CNN isn't reporting the results of polls of physicists or their consensus views, not that they don't exist.

It is interesting to say how certain you need to be in order to take an action based on any science.

There was a consensus among Manhattan project scientists that a chain reaction would not take place causing widespread destruction by igniting the atmosphere. Not all of them were convinced, though most considered the scenario improbable. So they went ahead and set one off. Revisited later with the fusion bomb.

People buy flood insurance based on the 100 year floodplain predictions from FEMA. They are constantly modified, and also often out of date. They are still used to set NFIP rates, and for community disaster planning. Large hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Irma blow these predictions *ahem* out of the water.

Sometimes, indeed, we have to make weighty decisions based on incomplete data, shaky premises and potential risk/reward.

Just like when scientists investigated cholesterol, there was fierce debate about whether this was a proximate cause or not. Some waited until the science firmed up. The ones that adopted a low fat diet had much better outcomes rather than waiting to see if the threat was real.

Cholesterol controversy

A relevant comment on the site from a cholesterol denier:

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It is up to each of us to decide when a question is settled, not the supporter of one position, even if it be a majority position. "Scientific consensus" should really mean consensus, very broad and very widespread, and when contrary views are still being published in peer-reviewed journals, it is obvious that the debate is not "over" or "past its time." We need much better for medicine to become truly "evidence-based."

I'm not sure about the motivation of people who want to argue against cholesterol's impact on arteriosclerosis, but it takes all kinds. It seems most commenters on that thread are debating the use of statins to control cholesterol levels.

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2019, 02:11:40 PM »
I think what you mean to say is that CNN isn't reporting the results of polls of physicists or their consensus views, not that they don't exist.

The contents of the article seem to more or less agree with what I said, but the matter is indeed complex enough that one paragraph about it won't fully describe anything properly.

ETA - I forgot to mention that the poll mentioned in the article about the Copenhagen interpretation certainly is a poll, but what I was talking about above is a poll taken by a scientific group to determine what the community thinks as a group. I was not talking about taking a poll for journalistic purposes in order to write articles about it, which of course may happen. But journalism is not really part of the scientific process as such and is therefore a side matter. When I used the word "poll" what I meant was that there is no over-arching infrastructure uniting scientists under a single banner wherein 'their beliefs' can be treated as a single entity. There is no way in which a science journal's poll about quantum interpretation is going to play into a physicist's work. Like, he's going to read it and say "Gosh, that many people subscribe to Copenhagen, I guess I'd better roll over and go along with it!" Although on a purely social level I do think there may be a certain extent of actual mockery at 'fringe theorists' on certain topics. Even Hawking had his share of people calling him a kook over his baby universes stuff that bordered on sci-fi.

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There was a consensus among Manhattan project scientists that a chain reaction would not take place causing widespread destruction by igniting the atmosphere. Not all of them were convinced, though most considered the scenario improbable. So they went ahead and set one off. Revisited later with the fusion bomb.

This is a very particular case that's somewhat tangential to what we're talking about. They needed multiple people to weigh in because they were creating new science for the purposes of a concrete test, where time was limited and the test potentially dangerous. So prior to conducting tests against their hypothesis they felt they needed to firm up their hypothesis as strongly as possible. All of this falls under the "formulate a hypothesis" part of the scientific process, and has nothing to do with consensus determining which theories over time are the better ones. This was strictly a case of trying to determine if their test would...you know...blow up the world. But 'good science' requires multiple tests, so in this case the team on hand was trying to establish whether it was wise to even do this test at all.

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Sometimes, indeed, we have to make weighty decisions based on incomplete data, shaky premises and potential risk/reward.

I agree with you that on a time-sensitive basis there isn't the luxury to sit around waiting for the data to be conclusive. The "Krypton scenario" presents a problem where we have to choose between taking drastic action versus doing nothing and having the sun explode, and even worse, looking like dolts to alien children reading comics about us.

Overall your point seems to be that the opinions of the scientific community should matter even when we're not sure. That's true, to an extent. Your cholesterol example is also a funny one because the "eliminate fats" trend began as a result of a conspiracy of lobbyists to push to a high-carb diet, which became the prevailing wisdom in health science for a while (you may remember the famous food pyramid, whose contents were a result of deception). It would have been very counterintuitive for someone back then (in the 80's) to consider that various health problems might well link more closely to the GI index and carb intake than to fat intake. I mean, for basically a few decades the entire populace was being led by the nose wrongly by 'the experts' on this front. This particular issue wasn't about cholesterol per se, but that's going to be directly impacted by the fats vs carbs choice in your diet. And don't even get me started on how many times in my lifetime it's flopped between "eggs will give you a heart attack" and "eggs are a great source of good cholesterol".
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 02:25:56 PM by Fenring »

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #39 on: July 29, 2019, 02:25:20 PM »
This particular issue wasn't about cholesterol per se, but that's going to be directly impacted by the fats vs carbs choice in your diet. And don't even get me started on how many times in my lifetime it's flopped between "eggs will give you a heart attack" and "eggs are a great source of good cholesterol".

No doubt. Same with recommendations to avoid sodium - which still lurk around despite only 25% of us apparently having any adverse reaction to high sodium. I have mild hypertension, and my doctor never even messed around with salt.

But if you lowered your salt intake and avoided eggs, it really didn't hurt you at all. It might mean that your food was less enjoyable, as you stopped delighting in the joy of eggs benedict seasoned properly.

You can, of course, simply ignore everything. That's an option. With diet, however, you're only going to affect yourself and perhaps your loved ones when you die prematurely. When you burn up fossil fuels, you're harming asthmatics and perhaps everyone living in a coastal area. Or not, but this is the possibility.

The Manhattan debate was, "if we do some things, we might be doing harm we're not sure about".

The climate debate is, "if we don't do some things, we might be doing harm we're not sure about".

Granted, the time frame and potential harm are nowhere similar.

Fenring

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #40 on: July 29, 2019, 02:31:56 PM »
The Manhattan debate was, "if we do some things, we might be doing harm we're not sure about".

The climate debate is, "if we don't do some things, we might be doing harm we're not sure about".

Granted, the time frame and potential harm are nowhere similar.

That, and the 'test case' exists for one and not the other. When dropping the [why I learned to love the] bomb the atmosphere was either going to ignite or it wasn't. Case closed. That's a pretty conclusive test, which as it turns out would be repeated many times without the atmosphere having a cascading reaction. And it still might someday! But so far it seems this doesn't happen.

With the climate situation, there is first of all not even a concrete test on the table such as constructing and dropping a bomb. Second of all, even if in an expanded timeframe the climate does go to hell, you do not have a concrete test-based result to say that it definitely happened because of X. In the bomb case you'd know: the atmosphere is not igniting when not dropping the bomb (control case), and when you drop it there is ignition, ergo dropping the bomb caused the cascade. There is no control case in the climate scenario, therefore you cannot even realiably backtrace why the disaster definitely happened because there was no controlled event to point to that 'did it.' That difference is a huge deal, because repeatability requires narrowing down test conditions to an incredible degree.

And I sympathize with the Krypton scenario. As a kid growing up I had the full force of the "HOW COULD THEY NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT" feeling when seeing Krypton blow up. I get it.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2019, 02:47:08 PM »
But then, who makes that determination??  Who are you going to trust to be as unbiased as possible?  Who will be the jury?

The current approach is to let everyone make the determination, giving more weight to those who are experts in the fields.  After all, they have more to lose if they are wrong: they can lose reputation, and they can hobble themselves by believing incorrect models, which will sabotage any research they do using those models.  (If you believe the Earth is flat, any predictions based on that idea will probably come crashing down. :) )

But if everyone is making the determination, how can any of us know what is established as true and what is still undecided?  There will always be contrarians who will dispute any finding (e.g. Flat Earthers).  So how can we know what are the best theories?

One word: consensus.

If you have a vast majority of knowledgeable people agree on a certain theory, who will stake their reputations on it, and base their research on it, then it is a much higher probability that it is true than by any other method that I can imagine.  You have a group of people who know the subject--who are constantly testing the subject and trying to pry more information from the subject, who will delve even deeper into the subject to figure out why their predictions are wrong--agreeing on basics that have served them well in the past and present.  The ones who believe in theories that are true will more often make progress in their experiments and models.  Those who don't will won't make as much progress, if at all.

And, oddly enough, people like to be successful in their fields. :)

So what happens to the person who stakes their reputation on a claim, builds up a considerable amount of prestige pushing that particular claim. Only to start encountering information which contradicts their claims?

People like to be successful in their fields after all, and don't want to look like abject failures after all.

Which isn't to mention all the fun to be had when people are designing tests to confirm what they're seeking to confirm.

Crunch

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2019, 03:51:41 PM »
Since induction is not your strong point, let me spell it out to you: the goal of science is to understand the physical world, using specific methodologies.  The goal is to understand it so well (in a particular area of knowledge) that there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis (see cell theory, germ theory, the kinetic theory of gases, etc).

When there is no longer any significant dispute as to the truth of a particular hypothesis, do you know what that is called?  It's called consensus.

I live that you double and triple down on this.

Wayward Son

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2019, 04:10:10 PM »
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There is no jury in science, and therefore the answer to your question is "you don't need to trust anyone" because science doesn't work based on trust. In fact the best science eliminates the human factor as much as possible, so that 'agreement' or 'compliance' become ideally irrelevant when the functionality of a theory speaks for itself.

Yes, the best science eliminates the human factor as much as possible.  But the problem is that it can't be eliminated. :)

Most (many?) experiments are repeated.  But once they have been repeated enough times, they are accepted as fact by most scientists--a consensus of scientists, if you will.  There will still be some holdouts.  But overall, almost all scientists trust that it is true.  Not because they have performed the experiment itself, or tested it directly, but because it has been tested by others and has withstood all secondary tests over time.  If you don't trust other scientists to have performed the experiments correctly and have come to usable conclusions, then you cannot make any progress in science.  You will spend all your time confirming what everyone else has done before. :(

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Science is not some team sport where everyone has to agree on the rules beforehand in order to play. There is literally no need to make some over-arching determination of which theor(ies) are better in some kind of vote, and in any case there is no unification to speak of among experts in terms of them 'signing on' to the same club where members must subscribe to the same beliefs. The way you describe things sound a lot more to me like dogmatic religion than scientific work.

No, there is no vote, no "signing on," no club membership.  And yet scientific consensus exists.  Over 90 percent of climatologists believe that humans are affecting Earth's climate.  We know this is true, in spite of there being no vote.

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You'll know because experiments are repeatable that are based on those theories. And you'll know because people are making money off of it. You do know that there are no channels in the fields to establish "consensus", right? Physicists don't have polls passed around all over the world where they have to scratch in "agree" or "disagree" on various propositions. The only reason we talk about consensus in climate science is because it's been journalistically turned into a public and political fiasco. By virtue of it being political people speak of consensus, because agreement is fundamentally a political end; but certainly not a scientific one.

Nonsense.  Can you tell me with a straight face that there is no consensus on Maxwell's Equations?  On Relativity?  On the Big Bang?  Can you tell me that less than 90 percent of all scientists for which these are relevant to their fields don't believe these?  If you can't, you acknowledge there is a consensus, even if there is no voting.

They vote with their experiments.  They vote with their assumptions.  They vote with the basis of reality that they conceptualize to design and perform their experiments and studies.  We don't need no stinkin' poll... :)

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Peer review covers methodology for publication purposes, and other than that there is no general oversight over broad theories. As far as 'well-tested' goes, typically in areas of research different teams will try to reproduce interesting results independently to see if they're repeatable. More teams succeeding in this definitely lends credence to either the method or maybe a theory that led to the method.

Eventually there comes a point, though, where teams don't try to reproduce results, when peer review doesn't question an assumption.  They take them as a given.  That is what I mean by a consensus.

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Here you seem to be talking about some kind of efficiency calculation, where the 'likely long-term success' of a given line of research can be determined by 'the experts.' Unless you're suggesting invoking a brand new branch of science philosophy, something like "probabilistic study of research future" (which currently doesn't exist), may I assume you're rather talking more about what we sometimes call 'mainstream' thought? The funny thing is that if Kuhn is going to be taken seriously at all then we have to suppose that the mainstream understanding of which research is going in the right direction has always been wrong, without exception. If it was right we'd never have had all of these scientific revolutions.

I'm not talking about an efficiency calculation.  I'm talking about scientists who decide what they believe is true, and using that as a jumping-off point for further research.

Which means that even Kuhn's revolutionaries have a consensus view about aspects of the universe.  How could Einstein have come up with Relativity without the consensus understanding of Maxwell's Equations?  Without Maxwell's adding the speed of light to Ampere's law, there would have been no puzzle for Einstein to solve with Relativity.

Wayward Son

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2019, 04:22:45 PM »
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So what happens to the person who stakes their reputation on a claim, builds up a considerable amount of prestige pushing that particular claim. Only to start encountering information which contradicts their claims?

People like to be successful in their fields after all, and don't want to look like abject failures after all.

Which isn't to mention all the fun to be had when people are designing tests to confirm what they're seeking to confirm.

When that happens, their experiments (and those of their students) start to fail.

It's like that one guy who spent $40,000 on a rocket to prove that the Earth is flat.  You know what happened?  It went up thousands of feet, and he didn't see the edge of the Earth.  He felt cheated, because he preformed this experiment and it didn't prove what he wanted it to prove.  He wanted his money back. :D

When you have a bad assumption, eventually it will show.  Other scientists will devise an experiment to isolate the incorrect assumption. Of course, the ones who hold the bad assumption will try to figure out alternative explanations for the inconsistent results.  But over time, the correction idea should win out.

It may take a long time for the truth to win out.  But the contradictions will be there, sitting like a toad on a log, sticking out its tongue, until a new consensus is reached, which should be closer to the "truth" than before.

DonaldD

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #45 on: July 30, 2019, 03:23:59 AM »
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And the problem with the Global Warming research as it is, would be that most efforts are focused on the surface and up. Very little of it is looking down, except for some limited research into heat absorption from the top few hundred feet and how it may be working its way into deeper water. Wouldn't that be a kick in the teeth if a significant amount of the warming that was being experienced was not coming from above, but from below? More than 2/3rds of the Earth's surface is under water, plenty of opportunity for (deep water) "hot spots" to add their own inputs into the system.
You think this is "the problem"?  The increase in anthropogenic forcings since the industrial revolution is on the order of 20 times the total steady energy flow from the Earth's interior. This energy flow is very well understood - that it is new to you just means you are not somebody who dedicates their career to studying the relevant areas of research. To put it plainly, the Earth could double it's steady state energy output and it would have little effect on the Earth's energy budget - but we would absolutely notice that doubling, and no such event has occurred.
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That's a problem with the models to date. Sure some have come close. Most have been wildly off the mark, almost universally all of which have run warm compared to what we've seen. (Test failed - Step 5)
I find this claim interesting, since your primary basis for disbelieving AGW (on the other thread) is the effect of urban heat islands on the temperature record.  Yet it has been 10 years since several studies were done on the effects of UHI on the temperature record, and those studies showed unequivocally that there was no effect - one study of which was done by a noted skeptic, funded by noted skeptics, and which caused said noted skeptic to change his mind and who now supports the idea that climate change is real and is being caused by humans (see Muller/Koch brother/BEST).  And yet, knowing that UHI effects on the temp record have been shown to be negligible, and given that was your primary reason given for disbelieving AGW, does that not give you pause? I mean, here we have an hypothesis (UHI is polluting temp record) we have a test, and the hypothesis was shown to be incorrect by several different researchers...

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #46 on: July 30, 2019, 12:31:45 PM »
UHI was an easy "off-hand grab" and only one factor among many(mostly in regards to data contamination). I see you ignored my other commentary on land use change and impact on albedo as well.

That isn't just isolated to UHI. That's replacing yellowed/dry prairie grasses(higher reflectivity) with nice, rich, dark green fields of Corn, Alfalfa, and other crops(more heat absorption). Or simply green lawns. (Which in turn release more moisture to the atmosphere, which in turn helps fuel more rain/storm events)

Another item previously brought up in this forum by me, IIRC, as it relates to albedo is forestry management as well. Where the favored trees for replanting are ones that loggers tend to want to regrow as they grow faster/have better yields on eventual harvest. Their leaves also often are darker in color than what the native mix of trees in those areas were previously. Again, lower heat reflectivity, more heat absorption.

The bigger thing on mentioning UHI though was to point at it "contaminating" the data sets that have been used to produce evidence of warming in many locations, and the UHI encroached upon the reporting stations that were being used.

And speaking of heat islands, renewables are now known to have heat islands of their own, solar being the worst offender of the bunch. So while technically not a UHI, it's the same ball game, just different team playing.

TheDeamon

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #47 on: July 30, 2019, 12:54:05 PM »
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And the problem with the Global Warming research as it is, would be that most efforts are focused on the surface and up. Very little of it is looking down, except for some limited research into heat absorption from the top few hundred feet and how it may be working its way into deeper water. Wouldn't that be a kick in the teeth if a significant amount of the warming that was being experienced was not coming from above, but from below? More than 2/3rds of the Earth's surface is under water, plenty of opportunity for (deep water) "hot spots" to add their own inputs into the system.
You think this is "the problem"?  The increase in anthropogenic forcings since the industrial revolution is on the order of 20 times the total steady energy flow from the Earth's interior. This energy flow is very well understood - that it is new to you just means you are not somebody who dedicates their career to studying the relevant areas of research. To put it plainly, the Earth could double it's steady state energy output and it would have little effect on the Earth's energy budget - but we would absolutely notice that doubling, and no such event has occurred.

Too bad that the geological record doesn't reliably reflect the idea that energy flow from the earth's interior happens at "a steady state" that doesn't change. It varies, it just normally happens on very long time scales and as such is hard to pin down, especially when nobody is able to directly monitor it. And when you're dealing with a "global instrument record" that only dates back to the 1980's in general, and cannot cover deep water anomalies, we have an interesting conundrum revolving around lack of direct data and loads of "implied data" because of it. But that's par for the course on a number of things they're modeling in those climate models. They don't understand the systems involved, they decide on a constant to approximate what they think that value may be, and run with that. So yeah, we're supposed to trust this model of multiple overlapping chaotic systems where several of the choatic systems involved are amazingly orderly and constant?

This also ignores the climate models own suggestion to the overturning circulations may be more sensitive to geothermal heating than previously believed, and when you cycle back to much of the warming is isolated to the Northern Hemisphere, you may not be talking about a huge amount of energy budget being needed all said. A giant hotspot acting up in the Atlantic Ocean could possibly account for a lot of what is witnessed... Now I wonder why such a "hot zones" could possibly exist in the Atlantic Ocean, and I wonder if there is any paleo-climate evidence that might suggest it's done so in the past...

We could have some very significant under-ocean "hotspots" that operate on multi-decadal time-scales (much like those oscillations in the Pacific and Atlantic) and the reason they're being missed is because they haven't (appreciably) changes states since the satellite record began being global in the 1980's. So what we understand as "normal" for Earth's geothermal forcings may in fact not be normal at all. And of course, we're back to that other matter, that as they study the deep ocean and learn more, the value they're using for geothermal keeps going up. Yes, they made an educated guess, but it seems they low-balled it, and only time will tell by how much.

TheDrake

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #48 on: July 30, 2019, 01:03:42 PM »
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We could have some very significant under-ocean "hotspots" that operate on multi-decadal time-scales (much like those oscillations in the Pacific and Atlantic) and the reason they're being missed is because they haven't (appreciably) changes states since the satellite record began being global in the 1980's. So what we understand as "normal" for Earth's geothermal forcings may in fact not be normal at all. And of course, we're back to that other matter, that as they study the deep ocean and learn more, the value they're using for geothermal keeps going up. Yes, they made an educated guess, but it seems they low-balled it, and only time will tell by how much.

I think that's the plot from Pacific Rim, not a legitimate scientific hypothesis.

Seriati

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Re: Consensus as science
« Reply #49 on: July 30, 2019, 01:16:41 PM »
I think the difference here is between a consensus about a scientific question and a consensus about a social question.

It's not though.  Consensus is about facts not questions.  In the case of "when life begins" it's just a definitional fact.   In the case of AGW it's actually two linked facts, one of which is data driven (1) Earth is warming, and the other of which is "established" by process of elimination (2) people are the primary cause.

Earth is Warming.  I guaranty we don't know Earth's current temperature, not on the surface, not in the atmosphere generally, not from the surface to the edge of space, and certainly not in the entire volume thereof.  What I can't know is how accurate our estimates are and what the real margin of error is (the calculated margin is nonsense). 

I guaranty we don't know what Earth's temperature was in any of the those volumes as a historical matter (and some are completely impossible to have measured given the way we indirectly measure historical temperatures).  What I can't know is the margin of error on the estimates, or whether the indirect measurements we do are less accurate than the direct ones we are attempting now, or even if they are more accurate.  It's literally possible that the indirect historical measures actually encode more relevant data than the real time measures, of course it's literally possible they're completely noise.

I guaranty, the way we have built the models using micro data research is heavily biased towards that which we easily understand, can get too or have researched, which is a heavy bias.  What I can't know is what else is out there, or if we by random chance have pieces of it correct.

Putting that aside, let's assume that we are in fact warming (and there are plenty of people that make reasonable cases this is not the case, and others who make nutty cases), then that leads to the question of what's causing it.

Caused by People.  That's our second "consensus" item.  It's caused by people.  This by the way is almost completely reliant on a single correlation.  As the human population's technology and pollution have increased the "measurements" we are able to do appear to have increased.  That's it.  There's no experiment that confirms it.  So how do we get from correlation to causation?  Well honestly we can't.

However, we can approach the limit by eliminating other potential causes (again assuming we are even correct about the temperature).  As with any purely observational Science, we become more certain of a theory by eliminating other potential causes as a source.  And that's the whole lot of what is going on.  If the correlation breaks the theory  falls apart (which is why things like a "pause," a medieval warm period, and historically far higher carbon concentrations at lower temperatures are so damaging that they have to explained away).

Modelling though?  Total red herring, and literally not a science experiment.  It generates zero data.  It runs zero experiments.  It settles zero factual questions.  What it may be good for is generating hypothesis, and if we get tuned enough correctly making predictions.  I personally don't believe it's close to there yet, but reasonable people can disagree.

Why is it dangerous to treat this "consensus" as meaningful?  Well mostly because we only know of a correlation and have not shown a causative effect.  That means that contrary evidence will either "break" the model completely, or lead to "narrative explanations" of things that altered the course (whether these are actual refinements, or literally just covering for a broken hypothesis is in the eye of the beholder).  If it's just a false correlation, and we implement ridiculous and damaging policies, they will (a) do no good, and (b) be credited with any correlative change.

So if we do nothing, and nothing happens.  Proof it was a mere correlation.  If on the other hand we completely rearrange the world, destroy all economies and kill have the population, and nothing happens.  Proof we "saved" the world.

On the flip, if there is a causation and we do nothing it gets worse.  But if we "do something" and it's the wrong thing it will also get worse and maybe much worse (which is why I'm so opposed to international treaties that punish the most efficient producers).

But let's not kid ourselves.  Consensus on AGW is literally consensus on a hypothesis, and literally one that's incapable of being tested.

This all shows a basic misunderstanding of what is meant by "consensus". Yes, consensus is not part of the scientific method.  It is, however, a goal of the scientific method.

I think others have addressed this, but there's no truth to this statement.

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What it is not, and what critics often mistake it for, is some kind of end-state after which dissent is no longer welcomed. It's a handy strawman often used as a crutch by dissenters.

Is it?  What are you using it for?  It appears to be to try and bolster a hypothesis that can not be tested by asserting only a crazy person wouldn't be convinced because it's a "consensus" of Scientists.  Again, most of the scientists involved are now statisticians not experimental.  GIGO applies to everything they do, though I'm not asserting that what they are putting in is garbage, it's just a fact that they are running logical models that can not generate a new result.  If the actual environmental conditions are not an option of the model then the computer can not output them.

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This strawman is often used to argue against taking action based on a given scientific consensus - for example, climate science - because dissenting research is no longer "allowed" due to the consensus.  However, that is not the case. Of course, findings that go against large amounts of previous research will face headwinds in changing conclusions - which is as it should be, for obvious reasons.

And your strawman is often used to avoid explaining why implementing policies that would harm the environment is something we must do on an emergency basis "for the environment."

It's not a strawman to acknowledge that climate science is not experimental.

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The primary driver of the "consensus" strawman, however, is the "democratization" brought on by the internet, where people can find support for just about any pet theory, and can simply avoid dealing with contrary views. Flat Earth theory, anyone?

The primary driver for the "consensus" strawman is political motivation to try and tag unpopular and highly damaging policies as "above legitimate question."  It's been noted above, you don't find the same "consensus" hammer arguments being used where they aren't being used as an appeal to authority in a political debate.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 01:21:30 PM by Seriati »