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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Forced "Consensus" is Corrupting Science

This article reminded me of something one of the commenters here posted recently stating something to the effect that "science is not a democratic process". If you have time, check out the linked article. Here is what caught my eye....
"Another case of poor science doing the work of ideology (scientism) is the willingness of the media and cultural organs to defend hard-core Darwinian explanations for everything from bad backs to altruism. The evidence doesn't seem to matter once the "consensus" is adduced. The "consensus" deems that scientific books and reports that challenge Darwin--let alone support intelligent design--may not be read, let alone reviewed...

Behind all the "consensus" controls lie groups of individuals that benefit greatly by hyped priorities--research institutions, especially, including cash-pressed universities in search of federal money. Include trial attorneys who benefit from public fright. Add in, then, the para-political elements in society that want government sanction to run the lives of other people; this includes a large part of the environmental movement, plus the cultural totalitarians who seek government power to implement their social and spending policies. Also include the bureaucracies of government that seek constantly to expand their writ...and staffing levels. Economist Thomas Sowell has termed the alliance "coercive utopians."

To stand up to these trends and strategems is "pro-science", not "anti-science", despite what the consensus mongers contend. If "science" is essentially a propaganda and social scheme looking for complaint, vendable professionals to support it, then over time it will lose its hold on public respect. And that is just what is happening."

And that is just what is happening. Didnt Darwin have a minority viewpoint when his ideas were first proposed? I cannot understand for the life of me that if Intelligent Design arguments have been so thoroughly debunked as some say, then why not debate the subject in public forums where detractors can openly point out any perceived errors in their theories? If I had to speculate, I think it would be because some people cannot deal with the idea that an intelligent designer might have began everything and if that's the case, they would seriously have to reexamine their thinking on a whole host of other issues (Moral, metaphysical, etc) and they are comfortable where they are right now, wrapped up snugly in their own biases and preconceived notions.


SmartLX said...

That's an editorial with links to articles rather than an article itself, though things like that are sometimes called "leading articles".

The reason many scientists do not want to debate anti-evolution ID proponents is the same reason anti-evolution ID proponents do want to debate scientists, and it has nothing to do with who would be expected to win such debates. Those who attend or watch the ones that do happen tend not to be swayed in either direction, even when "perceived errors" are brought up and dealt with.

The reason is that appearing in a formal debate with a member of the ""science"" mainstream (that's me quoting Chapman's quotes) gives the straightforward visual and aural impression that the status of one's position is roughly level with that of the mainstream view. Anti-evo ID proponents think this is true of intelligent design and want to give this impression, but evolutionary biologists do not. By any criteria they use (e.g. peer review, fruitful research, falsifiability), ID has not earned this status and does not deserve to give the public this impression. In the United States, the court decision stating unambiguously that ID is "not science" doesn't help either.

Therefore, the opportunity to rebut ID in person is simply not worth giving ID proponents the PR victory that any formal debate represents to them. So the scientists refuse.

That said, just because scientists are reluctant to participate in formal debates does not mean they don't pursue the larger debate publicly. That's where books like The Greatest Show on Earth, Why Evolution is True, Your Inner Fish and Finding Darwin's God come in. Likewise the blogs by PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, and richarddawkins.net which links to many anti-evolution pieces and advertises books responding to Dawkins.

On the flipside, nobody tried to stop Stephen Meyer from publishing Signature in the Cell, did they? How many DMCA takedown notices are being served on anti-evolution videos on YouTube, compared to pro-evo videos?

In short, how is the expression of contrary views hindered in the slightest by a tendency not to use one of so many methods of engaging opponents?

JD Curtis said...

Thank you for your comment G. I'll post something later.

The Maryland Crustacean said...

"Therefore, the opportunity to rebut ID in person is simply not worth giving ID proponents the PR victory that any formal debate represents to them. So the scientists refuse."

I think you are making J.D.'s point and that of the article, first and foremost by raising the false dichotomy of "scientists" and "ID Proponents", as if the two were mutually exclusive.

The broader point, whether we are talking about a forced scientific consenus on atheism, global warming or whatever is the cause du jour, the idea of "scientists" as the ultimate objective class with no axe to grind in their relentless pursuit of the truth is exposed for the self serving fallacy that it is. Just like every other group of mortals, scintists can be swayed by their own preconceived notions, suppositions, world views and preferences, not to mention by a herd mentality and the desire to get their projects funded or to be tenured in their position.

JD Curtis said...

LX, pardon me.

SmartLX said...


SmartLX said...

Sorry Crustacean, I did mean certain evolutionary biologists in particular. Some anti-evolution ID proponents are indeed scientists, which is how the old Dissent from Darwin list was even possible. (I have to add "anti-evolution" because JD defines "ID proponent" so broadly it includes Ken Miller and Francis Collins.) The editorial paints "science" in quotes as the supposedly oppressive establishment, which contains all of those to whom I referred as scientists in the same spirit.

I don't doubt, incidentally, that many scientists in the areas you mention have an axe to grind against those who challenge the validity of their entire fields. Their funding, their work and the science itself could be jeopardised for what they see as no good reason. That would make me angry, in their place.

There is however a very large distinction between lack of participation in formal debates and lack of actual discussion, let alone the implied censorship.

GCT said...

Does Bruce Chapman think we should debate flat-earthers? How about holocaust deniers? How about geocentrists? If the answer is "No" then why should we debate a bunch of creationists over a question that was settled over 150 years ago?

And, MD Crustacean, I utterly reject your attempt to stereotype all scientists as part of some major conspiracy to promote something they know to be wrong and keeping the creationists out as some sort of sinister plot. That's basically what you are contending here, that scientists know evolution is false, but are lying through their teeth in order to...to do what I have no idea. The massive scale of such a conspiracy makes the idea ridiculous, especially since there are religious scientists that accept evolution due to the overwhelming evidence for it. Face it, evolution is a fact. It happened. What's left is to work out the small details.

JD Curtis said...

Face it, evolution is a fact

Which evoutionary biologists are saying it's a "fact"? Besides the complete sissy a/k/a PZ Myers.

Since it is such a "fact" GCT, perhaps you could provide me to the link that clearly shows, without question, that the predictive models but forward by evolutionary biology rise to the lower standard of the social sciences, nevermind the hard sciences.

GCT said...

It's already been done...multiple times. You refuse to look at the links. The evidence is unassailable. Look at Tiktallik, GAs, homology, the chromosomal fusion event in human history that shows that we are related to other apes (we actually are apes), or the demonstrated and observed instances of speciation that have already been provided to you. It is easy to show these things, and they have been shown to you, but you simply ignore them and then repeat the same line over and over that it should be easy to show you the money. How is your stance at all even close to being intellectually honest? Do you know your 10 commandments, or is it OK to lie if it's for Jesus?

And, BTW, it's pretty well accepted that evolution is a fact, not just by Myers.

Ginx said...

No one is stopping ID supporters or others from speaking about it incessantly, and clearly they do. There is no cover-up or conspiracy or oppression. If that was, it would be wrong.

What is happening is that claims based on philosophical arguments which are unsubstantiated with real-world evidence are being rejected by empirically based fields of science. Alternative theories are free to publish their ideas, and they do so quite often in the appropriate forums.

The fact is, many competing ideas are vying for the attention of scientists when it comes to issues like abiogenesis, but the matter of evolution and natural selection is largely open and shut until new evidence proves otherwise.

SmartLX said...

Which evolutionary biologists are saying it's a "fact"?

Richard Dawkins, JD. He makes a point of saying it all the time.

Certain conspicuous individual predictions are good examples of the theory's predictive power, such as the prediction of one fused chromosome in humans based on great apes (which I think I've brought up before). As for predictive models, those stemming from evolution tend to be used in retrodiction, but they are still used and useful.

JD Curtis said...

Thank you for all of your comments. I've been a bit busy on a public forum as of late.

In response to Dawkinsian logic which states that evolution is a "fact", it has been my experience that Dawkins has no clue concerning the definition of the words "theory" and "fact" as this NY Times article clearly points out.

Also, Vox Day has pointed out that Dawkins (in one of his books), declared evolution to be a "fact" in the beginning of the book with a qualifying statement immediately following his declaration of fact. Throughout the rest of the book he continues to mention that evolution is a "fact" however without the prior qualifying statement.

No one is stopping ID supporters or others from speaking about it incessantly, and clearly they do

So I'll ask you a direct question then G. Was the California Science Center wrong to cancel the screening of Darwin's Dilemma? I believe GCT mentioned that there was a counter argument to the Cambrian question put forward by those that believe in macro-evolution. Couldnt the Science Center have instead presented both sides of the issue and let folks decide for themselves?

What is happening is that claims based on philosophical arguments which are unsubstantiated with real-world evidence are being rejected by empirically based fields of science.

ID proponents are examining the exact same empirical evidence that those who adhere to strictly naturalistic/materialistc causes are.

If one side were entitled to what is exclusively their own set of evidence then there would clearly be a discrepency and I don't think you are saying that, are you? GCT's "open-minded" comparison of ID proponents to flat-earthers, Holocaust deniers and geocentrists proves it. There is no shortage of "evidence" for all 3 of these items that people who believe in either side of the issue could cite. Then the best explanation would rise to the top like fresh cream for all to see.

GCT said...

The best explanation has risen to the top like fresh cream for all to see, only head-in-the-sand creationists like yourself refuse to look and either perpetuate, propagate, or make up false facts, arguments, and "evidence" in order to deny, deny, deny. It's been well documented how creationists will dishonestly quote mine, continue to use arguments that have been empirically and logically shown to be incorrect, and misrepresent the science/empirical results that we have (even after being corrected). Take your hero, Ray Comfort, for example. He still uses his argument that a male has to evolve and find a similarly evolved female, and that's how evolution is supposed to work. It's rubbish, it's incorrect, and he's been told this over and over only he doesn't ever retract or change his story. He simply repeats the lie over and over in order to help keep the masses (like you) in line and in belief.

And, no, ID proponents are not using the exact same empirical evidence, they are doing exactly what the creationists do...why? Because ID is nothing more than warmed-over creationism under a different name. ID is itself, a dishonest attempt to circumvent court bans on teaching creationism in classrooms. You're either ignorant of this fact and being led astray by con artists and liars for Jebus, or you are complicit in it. Which is it?

JD Curtis said...

Outstanding GCT. It just so happens that Dr. Stephen C. Meyer addressed one of his Darwinist critics yesterday and it was published in The Times Online (UK). Why not take a look at it and point out FoR us the errors in Dr. Meyer's logic? Here's a teaser...

Sir, – I’ve been honoured by the recent attention my book Signature in the Cell has received on your Letters page following Thomas Nagel’s selection of it as one of his Books of the Year for 2009 (November 27). Unfortunately, the letters from Stephen Fletcher criticizing Professor Nagel for his choice give no evidence of Dr Fletcher having read the book, or of his comprehending the severity of the central problem facing theories of the origin of life that invoke undirected chemical evolution. In Signature in the Cell, I show that, in the era of modern molecular genetics, explaining the origin of life requires – first and foremost – explaining the origin of the information or digital code present in DNA and RNA.

Link to full article.

SmartLX said...

Even Nicholas Wade, at the end of his NYT article, ends up saying, "Evolution is indeed a historical fact." That's the sense in which Dawkins means it's a fact: it has happened, is still happening and is responsible for the diversity of life on Earth. This is also the sense in which evolution is agreed by the majority to be a fact.

Dawkins laments in the beginning of The Greatest Show on Earth that the word "theory", even in its scientific sense, does not convey that its subject matter is reality. Gravity is a scientific theory too, but if someone said it's a fact that gravity exists, you wouldn't even think about it.

So to convey the reality of evolution which doesn't come across in the scientific definition of "theory", he uses the conventional meaning of "fact" as the best available word, adding all the while that it's not a perfect term. He proposes using the old word "theorum" (rhymes with "decorum") to describe theories accepted as historical and contemporary fact, though only as an exercise in the first chapter.

SmartLX said...

And here's someone who has definitely read SITC and directly addresses Meyer's information argument. It's quite good.

Reynold said...

All I can say is that the Intelligent Design people have had their chance to show actual evidence for their side for some time, and they never buck up, even when they say they will.

Whose fault is that?

By the way, what evidence FOR intelligent design was shown in the movie "Expelled"?

Reynold said...

JD: I see that you're still acting stupid and childish:

Besides the complete sissy a/k/a PZ Myers.

Maybe you should do some research before you beak off.

I believe I asked you once before, just how many of you people is a person supposed to debate before he's no longer a "complete sissy" in your eyes?