For people with stock market experience, "consensus" is not something that usually is a strong buy signal. Here are some interesting examples – two from Enron showing how fragile a "consensus" can be, one from a geologist surveyed in one of the surveys supposedly showing a consensus among scientists.
These two quotes are from Kurt Eichenwald’s Conspiracy of Fools, which is a terrific read. (A certain House Committee played a role in this investigation.)
The next morning just after ten, Skilling stood beside Lay as a photographer snapped their pictures for an article in Fortune. They were more than happy to participate; already that year, in its annual rankings, Fortune had hailed Enron as America’s best-managed company, knocking General Electric from the number-one perch. (p.227)
After months of effort, Karen Denne from Enron’s public relations office landed the big fish: CFO magazine had selected Fastow as one of the year’s best chief financial officers. (p. 260)”Lay opened his briefcase and pulled out the latest issue of CFO magazine, glacing at the cover. The Finest in Finance. Lay smiled to himself. He found the table of contents, looking for Fastow’s name. Beneath it were the words: How Enron financed its amazing transformation from pipelines to piping hot. Lay turned to the article, “When Andrew S Fastow, the 37-year old CFO of Enron Corp. boasts that “our story is one of a kind’ he’s not kidding" it began”. Fastow was obviously as creative and sharp as Lay and Enron’s board of directors had come to believe” (p. 267)
Here’s a comment from a geologist:
I’m a geologist and have worked in and out of paleontology for the last 20 odd years. So I’m a ‘scientist’.
Is global warming real or not? Darn if i know but I do know that most of the so-called science is indeed ‘junk science’.
A few years ago a survey was circulated in our department. There were questions on climate change…emissions, etc. There were 8 of us surveyed and all in paleontology. Sounds nice BUT ‘our opinions’? None of us work in climatology…all have to listen to the weather forecast to know if it’s going to rain…’our opinions’? why would our opinion carry weight one way or the other?
I can tell you all about the intricate relationship of certain past lifeforms but I wouldn’t know which end of a climate chart on global warming is ‘up’. But sure enough, I keep reading these statiastics about ‘x’ number of scientists agree that global warming is due to …and blah, blah, blah. How the heck do these scientists know anything? I sure don’t and my colleagues don’t.