In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Peter Vickers (University of Durham) will give a talk on “The Institute for Ascertaining Scientific Consensus, or, How to Measure Scientific Community Opinion and Influence People“.
The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 27th of March 2023. To join the seminar, please contact email@example.com for the location or Zoom invitation.
Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.
A solid, international scientific consensus is the best signal humanity ever gets that a specific scientific statement articulates an “established scientific fact”. It is thus surprising that there currently exists no good way to measure the strength of scientific consensus regarding a specific statement of interest. Indeed, scientists themselves don’t know when a claim can be called a ‘fact’ (as Ernst Mayr used to complain, and as one IPCC author recently complained). A good method for quickly, efficiently assessing mass scientific opinion is urgently needed, especially given the rise in ‘fake news’ and misleading information in the public sphere. Perhaps most significantly of all, recent studies have demonstrated the power of expert-community consensus information to correct misconceptions of laypersons, and, crucially, impact upon relevant actions of those laypersons (such as getting vaccinated against COVID-19). The fledgling ‘Institute for Ascertaining Scientific Consensus’, or ‘IASC’, is now operating out of Durham (UK), and seeks to become humanity’s premier means for measuring scientific community opinion. It consists of an international hub-and-spoke network, currently with 31 institutions involved. In May 2023 it will take action for the first time, surveying 20,000 scientists from 12 different countries. This will be humanity’s first ever serious survey of international scientific community opinion, regarding a specific statement of interest
Peter Vickers is Professor of Philosophy of Science, and Co-Director of the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) at the University of Durham, UK. His research interests include social epistemology and the relationships between scientific evidence, facts, and truth. Vickers’s first book, Understanding Inconsistent Science, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. His new book, also by Oxford, is Identifying Future-Proof Science.