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As far as conscilience, trees of knowledge, quantitatively knowing how reliable any piece of information or theory is, isn't it critically important to know, quantitatively, how much 'scientific consensus' there is for the idea?
There is a growing group of people working on a tool to rigorously measure scientific consensus at http://canonizer.com. It is a kind of wiki system with 'camps'. There can be 'camps' that represent various competing theories. People that think any of the various theories are legitimate can work to concisely state and develop the theory. The camps are then like survey questions, and the number of people that join or support each camp give a quantitative measure of how well accepted that theory or idea is compared to competing camps.
In addition to collaboratively developing concise descriptions of the various competing theories, and surveying who is in each 'camp', it is important to know, quantitatively, who are experts in various topics and fields. There is usually quite a difference between what the general population thinks about particular issues and what scientific experts think. At canonizer.com we use tools like peer ranking to quantitatively determine who are trusted experts in the field as judged by their peers. This enables canonizer.com to measure what the consensus is amongst such experts and then to compare this to the consensus of the general population. There are also other reputation information that can be used to measure consensus in various ways such as what is the consensus amongst PhDs, Christians, Atheists, and so on. (See the 'canonizer' side bar at canonizer.com).
We would love to hear what everyone thinks about the importance of this kind of rigorous measurement of scientific consensus, especially in a field such as physchology.
Brent.Allsop 21:54, 7 June 2009 (UTC)