It seems to be climate change day over at the ever-worthwhile internet digest Boing-Boing. Guest blogger Charles Pratt quite knowingly opened a can of worms this morning with a series of posts on "Climatic Heresy", that is to say questioning "the interdisciplinary scientific consensus on the reality of deadly human-caused climate change", as Cory Doctorow puts it in one of a series of refutations. Boing-Boing's ideological eclecticism and tolerance of dissenting views are pretty atypical for the blogosphere.
I'm not going to delve deep into this issue here, as there are far more who write about it far better than I could, but I do want to address again this idea of scientific consensus, which Doctorow expressed so stridently. Firstly, science simply does not work by consensus. To borrow an example from the late Michael Crichton, one would never say "the scientific consensus is that the Sun is about 93 million miles from the Earth". It just sounds wrong, because we know intuitively that science doesn't work that way. Secondly, I can't even fathom the cognitive dissonance of someone who praises great scientific pioneers like Galileo and Copernicus while shouting down all skeptics, saying "we've reached a consensus, the science is settled, no alternative hypotheses are worthy of examination".