Following on from LoE's excellent diary
When a scientific journal publishes a paper the aim has always been to ensure that it is as close to a statement of fact that is possible. The litmus test of all scientific papers is the Peer Review, where the methodology of the experiment, the veracity of the data and the conclusions are subjected to rigorous and robust critique.
Has the scientific method been rigorously adhered to, has the experiment been correctly deigned, has the data been acquired accurately, what are the tolerances for error, and have the conclusions been based solely on the available data.
A peer review can make or break a career, it can be brutal.
All data produced from the process must be repeatable, all observations accurately noted, all deviations and errors in measurement recorded.
Without the peer review there can be no consensus on the veracity of the study, it is at the heart of what we do, it is the acid test of all we write.
If only politics was subjected to the same rigor.
Science is not a popularity contest, it's aim is not to "win" it aims purely to note and explain and should not to be manipulated via belief.
Prove it, is the cry and not, I believe.
And you better be well prepared for the Peer Review.
So when 90% of scientists declare there is global warming this has nothing to do with belief, or gut feelings, this is based upon solid data that has been subjected to impartial analysis.
Without scientific method the results are flawed.
Without peer review the conclusions suspect.
Without either, your work should never be classed as scientific fact, and should not be published.
There have been abuses in the short term, but in the grand scheme of things, accuracy and methodology have won the day.