Poll? Consensus?

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Fri Oct 13 21:11:03 EDT 2000

Developing or determining the consensus among scientists is a very 
common and valid scientific practice. It's done all the time for a 
variety of purposes. It is usually done by meetings, workshops, or 
conference calls. In such formats contradictory data from different 
studies or conflicting interpretations of data are discussed. The areas 
of consensus and areas of difference are identified and most importantly 
areas of uncertainty which would influence opinions and require 
additional research are identified. That is an integral and essential 
part of the scientific process. 
	Not everyone likes science or the scientific process, but it 
works well most of the time. However, there are at least TWO critical 
elements which cannot be accomplished on a list server such as this one: 

The credentials of the scientists must be clear to all (hence their 
expertise and its limits must be known)

There must be no conflicts of interest (indeed when instances arise 
where we do have a conflict of interest, we recuse ourselves from the 

M. Gochfeld

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