Re: On scientists

Allan Harvey (
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 08:43:43 -0700

In regard to Glenn's comments on Phil Johnson, Burgy wrote:
>Glenn, you (apparently) have the deep felt belief that "scientists," as a
>general rule, are more to be trusted, are morally superior, are more honest
>and ethical, and, in particular, are less likely to "follow the crowd" than
>other mortals. All this because of our peculiar (no pejorative intended)
>Such a belief may, indeed, be true, for ought I know. I personally have not
>seen sufficient evidence to convince me it is true. My belief is that
>scientists are like other humans, including lawyers and shop owners and
>truck drivers and many others -- fallible beings, some better than other,
>but as an occupation group probably not particularly distinguishable from
>many other groups.
>My impression is that Johnson was simply pointing that out -- but that's
>just my impression.

I can't speak for Glenn, but I don't think most of us who object to
Johnson are claiming any superiority for science or scientists. Most of
us are all too aware of the fallibility and foibles of scientists. My
impression is that it is *Johnson* who paints scientists (at least some
groups of scientists) as different from other groups. In Johnson's
world, scientists (unlike lawyers, truck drivers, etc.) are a
conspiritorial elite, blinded by self-delusion and scheming to suppress
the truth about evolution, AIDS, and who knows what else. At least
that's my impression. And I find that offensive, just as Johnson would
probably be offended by somebody who suggested that lawyers as a group
were all ambulance chasers.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | Phone: (303)497-3555 |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | Fax: (303)497-5224 |
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