Science and Technology Studies


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STS Research Seminar: Professor Peter Vickers

26 April 2023, 3:00 pm–4:30 pm

P Vickers

Join this STS Research Seminar with Professor Peter Vickers

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


University College London
Gower Street

The Institute for Ascertaining Scientific Consensus, or, How to Measure Scientific Community Opinion and Influence People 

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 choices and 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 on a given statement of interest. It consists of a large international hub-and-spoke network, which includes UCL.

Should you wish to register to attend the event, please email: sts@ucl.ac.uk

About the Speaker

Peter Vickers

Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) at University of Durham

His research interests include philosophy of astrobiology, social epistemology, and the relationships between 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.

More about Peter Vickers