Bob and Alice disagree regarding subject X.
Alice holds view A regarding subject X.
Bob holds view B regarding subject X.
View A and view B are quite contradictory views. Both can not be true at the same time.
Subject X is of paramount importance, but it is a very complex, technical issue. To fully understand subject X, therefore, you need to study for a long time in a university. Most people who really understand subject X, and have a truly informed opinion, hold doctorate degrees in something related to subject X. Since subject X is so important, many professors have to get together and discuss subject X. Sometimes those professors release public statements regarding subject X.
Those professors all have degrees in things like physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics and engineering.
Bob and Alice haven't studied any of those subjects. Therefore, they don't understand subject X really well. Bob and Alice both agree that neither of them has the proper expertise to hold an informed opinion regarding subject X. All they do is listen to the public statements given by the professors regarding subject X.
Out of the people who have the necessary expertise regarding subject X, 93% hold view A. (Group 1)
The remaining 7% of such people hold view B. (Group 2)
There are thousands of scientists in each group.
Subject X has tremendous political, cultural, historical, financial, religious and diplomatic implications. If view 1 was true, the world would look quite different from what it would like if view 2 was true.
Alice doesn't question Group 2's technical expertise, but she suspects they may (either subconsciously or knowingly)
- Be politically motivated
- Be affected by a conflict of interest
- Be religiously motivated
- Have personal/emotional biases
- Be otherwise unable to think clearly regarding this particular issue, due to the immense implications of the matter
Bob says the same thing about group 1.
During a discussion regarding subject X, Alice says to Bob:
View A is true, because the majority of experts hold view A. Only a minority of experts believe B. It's a fringe view. Therefore, view A is scientifically correct, and view B is incorrect.
Is Alice's argument a form of the logical fallacy called "appeal to authority"? (The authority in this case being the experts in group 1.)
An argument from authority (Latin: argumentum ad verecundiam), also called an appeal to authority, is a logical fallacy that argues that a position is true or more likely to be true because an authority or authorities agree with it.
What about the "consensus fallacy"?
If many believe so, it is so.
Or does the consensus fallacy only apply when the "many" are the majority of a population at large, and not when they are the majority of experts in a certain field?