Indeed. GNOME 2 was successful because the changes it brought were informed by methodical, empirical UI studies such as those done by Sun. Those who disliked the GNOME 2 UI changes¹ were thus at odds with clear evidence that the changes were overall better.
GNOME 3 appears to have been informed by the subjective "vision" of a small set of people. Unlike the 1→2 transition, this time there is objective evidence to say transition is an improvement. There is, apparently, no way to tell if the voices of discontent are an unreasonable minority or if they have point.
It's this lack of empirical evidence that is dangerous for GNOME 3, IMHO.
1. Rather than disliking just the initial instability of GNOME 2, though IME GNOME 1 also had its share of stability problems, and GNOME 2 matured stability wise reasonably quickly.