Popular Science is shutting down comments. Why? Well I guess because robust debate can be bad for science:
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
Daniel Sarewitz has a post at Nature in which he decries the trend among many scientists of acting as shrill Democrat partisans:
The US scientific community must decide if it wants to be a Democratic interest group or if it wants to reassert its value as an independent national asset. If scientists want to claim that their recommendations are independent of their political beliefs, they ought to be able to show that those recommendations have the support of scientists with conflicting beliefs. Expert panels advising the government on politically divisive issues could strengthen their authority by demonstrating political diversity. The National Academies, as well as many government agencies, already try to balance representation from the academic, non-governmental and private sectors on many science advisory panels; it would be only a small step to be equally explicit about ideological or political diversity. Such information could be given voluntarily.
To connect scientific advice to bipartisanship would benefit political debate. Volatile issues, such as the regulation of environmental and public-health risks, often lead to accusations of ‘junk science’ from opposing sides. Politicians would find it more difficult to attack science endorsed by avowedly bipartisan groups of scientists, and more difficult to justify their policy preferences by scientific claims that were contradicted by bipartisan panels.
Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don’t let him get away from that invaluable “real life.” But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is “the results of modern investigation.” Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Austin L. Hughes at The New Atlantis has a first rate look at science and scientism:
An additional strength of the falsifiability criterion is that it makes possible a clear distinction between science properly speaking and the opinions of scientists on nonscientific subjects. We have seen in recent years a growing tendency to treat as “scientific” anything that scientists say or believe. The debates over stem cell research, for example, have often been described, both within the scientific community and in the mass media, as clashes between science and religion. It is true that many, but by no means all, of the most vocal defenders of embryonic stem cell research were scientists, and that many, but by no means all, of its most vocal opponents were religious. But in fact, there was little science being disputed: the central controversy was between two opposing views on a particular ethical dilemma, neither of which was inherently more scientific than the other. If we confine our definition of the scientific to the falsifiable, we clearly will not conclude that a particular ethical view is dictated by science just because it is the view of a substantial number of scientists. The same logic applies to the judgments of scientists on political, aesthetic, or other nonscientific issues. If a poll shows that a large majority of scientists prefers neutral colors in bathrooms, for example, it does not follow that this preference is “scientific.”
Popper’s falsifiability criterion and similar essentialist definitions of science highlight the distinct but vital roles of both science and philosophy. The definitions show the necessary role of philosophy in undergirding and justifying science — protecting it from its potential for excess and self-devolution by, among other things, proposing clear distinctions between legitimate scientific theories and pseudoscientific theories that masquerade as science.
By contrast to Popper, many thinkers have advanced understandings of philosophy and science that blur such distinctions, resulting in an inflated role for science and an ancillary one for philosophy. In part, philosophers have no one but themselves to blame for the low state to which their discipline has fallen — thanks especially to the logical positivist and analytic strain that has been dominant for about a century in the English-speaking world. Continue reading
As freezing temperatures continue to grip the nation and the world I thought this political cartoon apropos to the many climate change proponents that continue to peddle this pseudoscience.
Which is why I am promoting the possibility of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the Separation of Science and State. The new law would make it possible to separate the radical environmentalists and their socialist allies from imposing their false faith in scientism upon Americans.
The Pagans are coming out of the woodwork, or more properly named, coming out of the ice sculpture.
What is turning into an annual event in Fairbanks, Alaska, a frozen ice sculpture of Al Gore, or what the locals call “Frozen Gore”, was unveiled.
Steve Dean sculpted the two-ton ice block in tribute to Al Gore and his ‘theories’ of man-made Global Warming.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports with my emphases and comments in this truncated article:
This year’s version includes special effects, thanks to a system that pipes the exhaust from a Ford F-350 out of Gore’s open mouth. Compeau [who funded the ice sculpture] will fire up the truck periodically this winter to create the “hot air” effect.
50 years [ago]. The average temperature for 2009 was 27.8 degrees in Fairbanks, about one degree warmer than normal, said Rick Thoman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Last winter, however, was unusually cold in Fairbanks. Temperatures in the winter months of 2008-09 were about 4 degrees below normal, according to National Weather Service figures.
The mocking tribute of Al Gore and the pseudoscience that he uses is cause for concern. We need to start a movement to begin the separation of science and state in order to protect Americans from environmentalist fanatics such as Al Gore.