Margaret Thatcher in a lecture at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in the early nineties said, "To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies. So it's something in which no one believes and to which no one objects."
It is, as it were, the absence of leadership.
Then Michael Crichton said in a lecture entitled "Aliens Cause Global Warming" given at the California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA on January 17, 2003:
"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.
"...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."
What I love about this quote is that so often the defense of evolution is ... consensus! "The majority of scientists today agree that this is not a theory, but a fact." In fact, I think that Crichton himself used that exact justification in Prey, the novel I read a few months ago. And, in an additional failure of his criterion for true science, I don't believe that evolution has ever been "reproduced," observed in progress or anything else "scientific" beyond a cataloguing of the similarities of phenoypes among organisms.
The Bible doesn't have much support for consensus as a concept either ... Caleb and Joshua said they could take the land, while the other ten spies and all the Jews disagreed, screaming all night in fear of the giants at Kadesh Barnea; later, the majority of the Jews rejected the Lord as their king and asked for a human king like other nations (so the Lord gave them Saul); then, later still, the Jewish army was freaking out over Goliath and the consensus was that no one could stand against him. Elijah was definitely outnumbered by a consensus of the 400 prophets of Ba'al. And of course, it was consensus that sent Jesus to the cross...
Just some food for thought...