Following the COP21 Paris Climate Conference last week, wherein, as Rich Lowery writes, an agreement was reached on the agreement — and not much else — I was reminded of a speech by author Michael Crichton (you may know him as the writer of Jurassic Park, but he was also a graduate of medical school and a rather accomplished researcher, so he was arguably a legitimate scientist in his own right) gave on the danger of “consensus” scientific inquiry and results. That is to say, believing something is true because everyone says it is. Crichton is much more eloquent in his speech, remarkably given at CalTech way back in 2003 and titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming”:
I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. 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.