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PostPosted: March 10th, 2015, 7:34 am
by Buzznerd123

Re: New google health results

PostPosted: March 10th, 2015, 8:54 am
by SecretAgentMan
I always enjoyed reading the works of Michael Crichton. He gave a speech at the California Institute of Technology in January 2003 where he talked about consensus in science and I thought it was worth sharing here as it is relevant. Google wants to rank search results based on a "Knowledge Vault" which the article refers to as "the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet." This sounds like they are ranking pages based on a consensus of science to me...

Michael Crichton's speech excerpt:

“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. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
“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. 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.”
[Crichton gave a number of examples where the scientific consensus was completely wrong for many years.]
“… Finally, 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.”