Reason summarized the results as, “Everyone who knows what they’re talking about agrees with me, and everyone who doesn’t wears a tinfoil hat.” It received attention elsewhere, also.

I, for one, found the entire study to be hogwash. The study in question was trying to determine why, and how, the public trusts scientists and experts in their own fields. Here are the major problems with the study, however:

  1. Science isn’t done by consensus. The Yale study worked around several issues where scientists had x% consensus on an issue. Sorry, but that’s not science. Science is about who’s right, and who’s wrong, and about who’s mathematical model can account for the data without getting disproved. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
  2. The studies in question they based their study off of were entirely manufactured political statements. 98% of climatologists agree with global warming? No, they don’t. Perhaps the Yale scientists have taken a look at the news (albeit, not the U.S. news) lately? There was never consensus on anthropogenic global warming – there was always a strong group of climatologists (such as at MIT) who disagreed with those results, and lately the side that believes in AGW has had most of their data invalidated. Something similar can be said about the position they took with gun regulation and crime rates. Sure, scientists disagree on whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. Except that one side of that argument consistently comes out with studies and mathematical models that claim that NH should be more dangerous than D.C., Detroit, or California, because it has less gun regulation – and the other side has massive amounts of empirical evidence from the history of the world where armed societies were more polite, and safer, and unarmed societies have more violence. Clearly, one side in the argument over gun rights has a political objective, and is trying to fit the data to their model, rather than vice-verse.

If the Yale study shows anything, it is that “scientists” are just as subject as anyone else to viewing the world through politics-colored lenses.