Jean Goodwin teaches English somewhere in Iowa. She's also written a paper about the "manufacture" of consensus in the IPCC reports on climate change. Its crap, but its a typical variety of crap, and so possibly interesting for that reason. She's essentially bitching that the IPCC shouldn't be make much of the fact that its constituent scientists have achieved consensus over important elements of AGW theory.
From the paper:
What is being done by this complex of features?—this rhetorical form, which I will call a "consensus claim"? One place to begin is by realizing its oddity. After all, we teach our students to recognize and reject ad populum or "bandwagon" appeals. I suspect that it would be hard to find scientists claiming to each other that such & such ought to be believed, because a "consensus of scientists" thus quantified backed it.
This statement is naive, and indicates a real lack of understanding of scientific practice and scientific history. Just to give one example, it is the almost universal consensus among paleontologists that birds are descended from and in fact are dinosaurs. The fact of this "consensus" is brought up occasionally by practitioners in the field, without shame or hesitation. For example, it isn't really unusual to hear it argued that the last few scientists holding out against the consensus are getting old and publishing long-ago refuted arguments in crummier and crummier journals. That's actually considered a salient point against them. I've written about it here; you can see the wikipedia version here. Presumably, for Ms. Goodwin, these are "improper" arguments. But I would suggest its stock in trade across many fields. It is certainly not odd. So if there is a problem with the manufacturing of consensus, it is hardly unique to Climate Science. But I don't think it is a problem; knowing, for example, that the only person advocating a theory is a fringe kook teaching out in nowhere'sville can be extremely useful to deciding how much time to spend figuring out whether their views make sense.
In any case, whatever scientists might be telling their students, arguments from authority are ubiquitous in both science and everyday life. They are neither proper or improper in essence; they are just arguments to be evaluated in context
Now, in Judith Curry's post on the topic, the statement below occurs, and in fact has attracted most of the attention from the deniosphere:
"We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought. If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not. If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern."
But it isn't from the Goodwin paper. Rather, its from an abstract to a paper by Leher which neither Curry nor anyone else has bothered to read because its behind a pay-wall. And because its a fragment, it is possible that the paper as a whole is not quite so silly, but on its own the statement is unmitigated bullshit.
Or, to put it another way: accept it and you would have to reject the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, among other good things within science. This last was an attempt, and a conscious one undertaken over a number of decades, to bind what was known about genetics and what was known about Natural Selection into a single coherent body of knowledge, which became and still is the current consensus (more or less) within evolutionary biology. Forging the synthesis was a thoroughly willed act, which involved recurrent meetings among experts from across relevant fields to build and test the emerging synthesis, from the Tübingen conference in the late 1920s, which ended in failure, to the Princeton conference in the 1940s, where there was found to be almost no disagreement among conference participants.
Nevertheless, according to Mr. Lehrer and by implication Ms. Curry, this "consensus building" activity would have amounted to a conspiracy.