Talk:Scientific community

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Classic case of quotation out of context[edit]

If you read the whole thing[1] you will arrive at the following:

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.

If you still think that it is legit and NPOV to introduce the quotation then also please add mine so the article reads thus,

Criticism of the notion of "scientific consensus"
Michael Crichton argued against appeals to the "scientific community" or "consensus of scientists" in the Caltech Michelin Lecture entitled "Aliens Cause Global Warming" (meant to be a serious lecture with a catchy title), 17 January 2003:
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.
In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let's review a few cases.
And shall we go on? The examples can be multiplied endlessly. Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theory. Saccharine, margarine, repressed memory, fiber and colon cancer, hormone replacement therapy … the list of consensus errors goes on and on.
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.
Support of the notion of "scientific consensus"
Michael Crichton argued against appeals to the "scientific community" or "consensus of scientists" in the Caltech Michelin Lecture entitled "Aliens Cause Global Warming" (meant to be a serious lecture with a catchy title) only when invoked in situations where the science is not solid enough, 17 January 2003:
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.

--LexCorp 20:03, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You are missing the point of the quote. Crichton is saying that we should not talk of "consensus". The last paragraph (which was already in the quote anyway) is not justifying consensus, but pointing out that the only time people do talk of "consensus" is where it's not legitimate to do so. To put it another way, if you want to speak of "consensus" at all, the correct place would be where the science is rock solid, but it is instead used where the science is not rock solid. Philip J. Rayment 01:45, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I DON'T agree that this is a NPOV. It clearly objects to a well recognised and stablished method and DOES NOT provide any supporting evidence for his claims. Therefore it has to be considered a point of view and NOT a fact. Following the guidelines of the Wikipedia, I'm removing the quote. Askewmind 00:13, Feb 21, 2005 (UTC)

The NPOV policy requires that POVs be attributed (as this is) rather than be presented as fact, not that they be left out. I have reinstated the quote. Philip J. Rayment 01:45, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Doesn't belong. The very same quote was recently added to scientific consensus by user: Ungtss - a creationist chap who has a definite anti-science bias. The Crichton stuff has been extensively discussed there. Part of my comment from that talk: The Crichton quote is a bit much (seems to be everyone's favorite around here :-) - yes he is a good writer of fiction and yes, he did give a speech with a doozey of a title, but his credentials in science are nowhere near to the proportion of fame he has both here and in the real world. So ... find more real scientist criticisms. As Crichton states and as is noted in consensus science: consensus science is not science. It is basically a hi-jacking of science for political or activist purposes. Let's discuss what the scientific community is - not what it is not. And definitely not what anti-science POV types want to falsely portray it as. -Vsmith 02:17, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If some of those reasons had been provided to start with, I probably would not have reinstated the quote. But the main reasoning provided was POV (which is an invalid reason to reject it; it was really a case of it being a POV that some editors didn't like). And I reckon that you throw the term "anti-science" around a bit too readily. Philip J. Rayment 05:34, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

How big is the "community"?[edit]

Hi there. Over at places like intelligent design we occasionally get into mini-revert wars where a statement like "... is judged as pseudoscience by the scientific community" is altered to "... is judged as pseudoscience by most of the scientific community" (emphasis added). My reading of "scientific community" is that it's not necessarily 100% of scientists out there, but is probably > 90%. I don't think the latter edit of the statement is a useful characterisation of what the "scientific community" is (not least because "most" is a bit of a weasle word).

I notice that there's nothing in the article at the moment which might expand on this point (or something like it). Possibly because it's not worth making. Anyway, before I make any edits, I thought I'd canvas for views (both on the item I raise and whether it's worth including in the first place). Ideally, I'd like the scientific community page to make it clear what statements like "the scientific community says ..." mean.

Cheers, --Plumbago 09:32, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

P.S. One of these revert wars is currently taking place at Michael Behe.

Not too surprisingly I think that "the community" consists of the majority of people active in a field, especially those who are publishing, citing others work, being cited, participating in conferences and workshops... It's neither the totality of workers active in a field. In addition, "rejection" (as per ID) relates not so much to an active rejection, but to the passive rejection of not citing work in a field, and not incorporating [some set of ideas] into their science. Guettarda 20:16, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I like this notion of "passive rejection". I'd not thought of expressing it that way before, but it's nicely accurate. It also somewhat counters the idea that there's some vast scientific conspiracy against the likes of ID. I'll have a think about this and see if I can come up with some way of wording this into the main article. Don't hold your breath though!  :) Cheers, --Plumbago 13:53, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I think that there needs to be some care here. Certainly the most ardent supporters of intelligent design are not bona-fide members of the scientific community. Indeed, most of them are guilty of what Judge Jones refered to as "wanting to change the ground rules", but there may be a minority who while not looking to the supernatural are none-the-less positing that certain thing may represent the result of being designed. Certainly we can now "design" organisms, so why not someone else?
That point aside, may I suggest that the statement in question be reworded to "There is a broad consensus within the scientific community (and near unaniminty in the areas of the biological sciences) that intelligent design (ID) is pseudoscience." Because of tenure and the like, there must be some people in various educational institiutions who have decided to endorse intelligent design and who cannot now be dislodged. However, many of these scientists are not biologists anyway.
In other words, as I see it both versions are correct: For the scientific community as a whole, ID is pseudoscience. However, for the scientific communiity as a set of individuals, it is also true that most (but not all) of then see ID as pseudoscience. I hope that my suggested edit will permit the individual side to be focussed on while emphasizing the extent to which ID is frowned on. --EMS | Talk 17:07, 13 January 2006 (UTC)


Self-taught scientist have historically been at odds with the scientific community (such as Oliver Heaviside). J. D. Redding

Home scientists are at odds with University schooled & employed scientists BECAUSE; They DO NOT have a clear means of communication between them. A place where- funded scientists & home scientists alike can share and argue theory and hypothesis. EX: Home scientists are consistent in having- MORE QUESTIONS. (This is a fairly easy theory to disprove?)Yodahungry (talk) 14:45, 7 March 2009 (UTC)


I cut the pseudoscience para. PS isn't much of a concern for the scientific community. For most sci disciplines the question doesn't arise at all. It doesn't deserve this much space in the article, and probably doesn't deserve mention at all. Its also wrong: the overwhelming determiner of science is publication in reputable journals. For ref, the paras are:

Historical and present-day scientists have used a variety of methods for determining who was inside or outside the scientific community, which is often required for determining what fields of investigation at all are labeled as being "science". Fields of knowledge which purport to be scientific, but are judged to be outside the norms of the scientific community, are labeled as "pseudoscience". The scientific method implicitly necessitates the existence of the scientific community, wherein the processes of peer review and reproducibility are undertaken.
It is the scientific community that recognizes and supports the current consensus within the field: the reigning paradigm, and which properly resists change until repeated and substantial evidence demands a paradigm shift, according to the theory of scientific change put forward by Thomas Kuhn. According to Kuhn, new communities establish themselves around new paradigms by developing their own terminology, sense of history, and sense of problems to be solved (and those to be ignored).

William M. Connolley 18:56, 17 January 2006 (UTC).

I'll stop editing this as WMC has removed meaningful content ... (again as in other articles). J. D. Redding

Scientific communities of practice?[edit]

Erm, what on Earth is this paragraph about? Sounds like someone's just puffing up the reputation of some arbitrary study (which, by the way, isn't by Briggs & Souza; it's by Snyder and Briggs; or perhaps "de Souza Briggs"). Having had a glance at this, it's not obviously focused on science, and I can find only a single cite for it in the Web of Science (and that might be incorrect). Anyway, can someone please explain why this work is important before I hack the whole section out? Among other things, it reads suspiciously like OR. --Plumbago 13:58, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Per User_talk:Stevenson-Perez#Your_contributions, I'm hacking the whole section out. -- TedFrank 20:42, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

March 14, 2007 Note to ‘Plumbago’, RE: The scientific communities of practice contribution to Wikipedia's ‘Scientific Community’[edit]

Dear Plumbago,

Thanks for reading the scientific CoP entry in the Wikipedia scientific community section. Thanks for catching the mis-attribution of the Snyder & de Souza Briggs citation: That correction has been effected.

Thanks also for inviting a collegial dialogue on the merits of this material, especially with regard to its potential OR content.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no original research (OR) dimensions in the scientific CoPs contribution, other than the synthesis of sometimes poorly-connected references in the literature on the topic.

For example, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently acknowledged the validity of the scientific communities of practice approach in measuring the net 'value' of NIH-sponsored scientific research discoveries -- through the launching of the new NIH Office of Behavioral & Social Science Research initiative (please see the NIH "Healthier Lives Through Behavioral & Social Sciences Research" Report for an example of their thinking in this regard{ [5] } ).

Many credible elements of the American academic scientific community are also insisting upon an early educational exposure of students to basic scientific communities of practice principles. Examples of ongoing research in this promising area of early childhood education in scientific CoP principles include Northwestern University’s “Bootstrapping a Community of Practice: Learning Science by Doing Projects in a High School Classroom Program” [6].

In addition, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has recently become even more strident in this regard, insisting that the scientific community must actively pursue the creation of more-useful communities of practice in science & technology on a global scale [7]: This new scientific CoP focus by the National Academy of Science falls under its high-priority Science & Technology for Sustainability (STS) Program [8].

I have added these details to the referenced citation, to lessen the chance that other readers might gain the same mis-impression that you did.

I hope that these improvements are satisfactory to you. If you have any further concerns, or if you want to see additional citations of scientific communities of practice references at the ‘Scientific community’ location, please feel free to let me know.

Sincerely, Stevenson-Perez 20:33, 14 March 2007 (UTC)stevenson-perezStevenson-Perez 20:33, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Terminology...Evolution is a "Law", not a "Theory"[edit]

Should evolution be publicly described as a "Scientific Law" or a "Scientific Theory"? I think that both are accurate, but "Scientific Law" would be understood by the general population as a way of communicating what is actually meant by the level of confidence that the current scientific understanding of Evolution is. This is based on an article I read in wired magazine. The link is as follows: -Alex.rosenheim 15:43, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

There is this continuing misunderstanding that somehow a "scientific law" is epistemologically stronger than a "scientific theory". This is plainly not the case. A scientific theory is simply the most accurate and predictive explanation for the sum total of all observations. A scientific law is a succinct statement, based on theory, that offers narrow predictions for very particular sets of observables. Thus the "Laws of Thermodynamics" are based on a broader theory of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. In no sense is there a "higher level of confidence" in them than the theory that they are based on. ScienceApologist 15:50, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Basically one can prove that a theory is valid if one can account for it using the Laws of Thermodynamics (all energy, matter and entropy is accounted for). All sciences become "pure science" as they have mathematical proofs. Thus Physics is a purer science than Biology. The Purest science of all is Mathematics. In the material universe (the subject matter of science) all is goverened by the first, second and third laws of Thermodynamics which is used to account for everything in physical reality: Matter and energy is neither created nor distroyed and the natural flow of order is from high to low (Entropy). The Laws are what we know to be true. They are what MUST be used in science to be sure we're doing "Science" and not theorizing or hypothesisizing. The laws are integral to proving anything is a physical reality. Thus the theory of evolution cannot not be used to prove anything. It is a theory. As most of Biology, including the Theory of evolution (as it has been applied to just about any field you can imagine) has no mathematical basis yet, these are not considered pure sciences. As a study such as Biology has more and more mathematical basis it becomes a purer science. If one were to use Theory to validate theory, well... we're just creating myths.

Darwinzadunce (talk) 02:29, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Could we have a proper definition for the word 'science' according to the scientific community as a whole, on this page? (talk) 07:33, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I agree with you. There should be a definition for the word 'science'. The word science should have to do something with "knowing things as they are". Current scientists may be very proud of their knowledge and advancement, but what about the important unanswered questions in life? Origin of life, purpose of life, reason for misery and suffering, and death? can the scientific community answer these questions? Consider the following: (Extracts from a book by an author who was well aware of the scientists' "scientific method")

The living entity is ignorant of his origin. He does not know why this material world was created, why others are working in this material world and what the ultimate source of this manifestation is. No one knows the answers to these questions, and this is called ignorance. By researching into the origin of life, important scientists are finding some chemical compositions or cellular combinations, but actually no one knows the original source of life within this material world. No philosopher, scientist or politician actually knows wherefrom we have come, why we are here struggling so hard for existence and where we will go. Generally people are of the opinion that we are all here accidentally and that as soon as these bodies are finished all our dramatic activities will be finished and we will become zero. Such scientists and philosophers are impersonalists and voidists. There are so many scientists, philosophers and big leaders, but they do not know wherefrom they have come, nor do they know why they are busy within this material world to obtain a position of so-called happiness. In this material world we have many nice facilities for living, but we are so foolish that we do not ask who has made this world habitable for us and has arranged it so nicely. Everything is functioning in order, but people foolishly think that they are produced by chance in this material world and that after death they will become zero. - (talk) 16:51, 21 March 2014 (UTC)


I think that the word Magisterium would be appropriate when talking about the scientific community, in this article, in other articles and in other writings and publications, because of the consensus approach within scientific circles that often mirrors that of closed communities (cf Consensus Patrum). I think that this was Paul Feyerabend's fundamental epistemological criticism on the pretensions of modern science, namely that of constituting a scientific society by using the same kind of social control tools as that of religion. Feyerabend compares Science to a Church or Community and cynically says that the only reason that there have been conflicts between Church and Science is because both of them are structured like Churches. [2] ADM (talk) 16:20, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

And it is. Scientific 'communities' often operate through public funding, depending on the importance of the material researched, and thus have specific political guidelines to abide by or their funding is pulled. This is one of the reasons why independent researchers are so important to the scientific method -- they provide mainstream research with competition from a less politically motivated environment. If there's no checks and balances among the scientific ranks and those outside the mainstream, it would quickly balloon into a scientific totalitarianism with a monopoly on reality by the elite, where any challenges will be shunned as heresy ('pseudoscience') and the challengers as heretics ('pseudoscientist'). Both are modern forms of excommunication. The old clergy wore black robes, the new clergy wears white robes. This was the same criticism of Freud's psychoanalysis concerning fascism -- both share the same premises. Thus, popular science with disregard toward individual researchers, regardless of their findings, inevitably, result in your (and above) cited material. This, I believe, is what Mr. Gould as well as Mr. Crichton were getting at, and rightfully so. Those in the mainstream need to speak out against deception. If something is true, it's true, and needs no consensus. This is good science. If it does (to be true), it's politics. This is bad science. 'Scientific community' appeals for the sake of authority, and not their accumulated evidence, is bad science. It simply does not follow. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:33, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

How does the scientific community establish using scientific method that the majority of the members today, who "form" the scientific community are not self-centered rogues, rascals and scoundrels? How do they defend themselves? How can the community say that society is advancing (not superficially) by using the scientific method? - (talk) 16:46, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

How does today's scientific community using scientific methodology define the following terms? 1) cheater / cheating 2) rogue 3) scoundrel 3) Scientism 4)Consciousness 5)Keeping general populace in darkness and ignorance in the name of scientific methodology 6)Trying to avoid the real questions of life: why are there miseries and suffering?, why is there death?, real purpose of life - (talk) 16:52, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

meaningless sentence re Vienna Circle[edit]

Hi everyone,

This article has the following sentence:

The Vienna Circle, for instance, had a paramount (i.e. symbolic) influence on the semiotic regime represented by the Scientific Community in Europe.

I have the following comments/questions:

  1. If one thing has a paramount influence on another, how can its influence be merely symbolic?
  2. What is a "semiotic regime"? Why is its article redlinked?
  3. Why are the words "Scientific" and "Community" wikilinked? Why are they capitalized?

--Kevinkor2 (talk) 22:28, 25 September 2010 (UTC) (: hehe, and why did Wikipedia log me out before I made this comment? :)

Dead Link?[edit]

Link number 1 may or may not be working. Weknreven i susej eht Talk• Follow 11:31, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

Fool's Paradise[edit]