The late Michael Crichton, MD, author, film producer, put it this way:
“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”
(From a talk at the California Institute of Technology on January 17, 2003, printed in Three Speeches by Michael Crichton, SPPI Commentary & Essay Series, 2009.)
Max Planck, one of the fathers, with Albert Einstein, of modern physics, put it this way:
“New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.”
(Address on the 25th anniversary of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft, January 1936, as quoted in Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany, 1993).