Scientific consensus

From ArticleWorld

Scientific consensus is the process by which the conclusions, theories, descriptions and [assessment]]s put forward by scientists or scientific institutions come to be accepted by the scientific community at large. Consensus is achieved through peer review, including publications, and conferences. While generally there is widespread consensus, the scientific community sometimes needs to be polled to determine the majority opinion.

The philosophy of science holds scientific consensus to be as crucial as the rest scientific method. Experimentation and elimination of unacceptable margin of error are bolstered by peer review in order to eliminate substantial doubt about a piece of research. This is held to be necessary because theories cannot actually be proven, only disproven, or subject to substantial doubt.

However, consensus is far from unproblematic, and perceived consensus or its lack in a few aspects of a theory is often used to sway debate on matter of public policy and religious doctrine, such as global warming, intelligent design, the legal status of homosexuality, among others. Karl Popper suggested that all experimentation should be aimed at falsifiability, since its opposite, irrefutable proof, was an impossibility. Thomas Kuhn, writing about paradigm shfits and scientific revolutions, pointed to the human nature component in all scientific undertakings and assessments, and his assertion that sometimes the passage of time was the only sure way for one theory to be worn down by opposition and replaced by another.