Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 06:00:38 EDT

Re: [asa] Expelled and IDI think that there are objective eternal truths in the world. I also think that science is one method of understanding those truths. (I know there are truths that are beyond science, but right now I am just talking about science.)

Science is able to avoid some post modern difficulties because the language of science is mathematics. This makes science reproducible because mathematics is largely objective. The problem is not that there are not truths to discover, or a method to discover them, the problem is that humans are fallible and make errors and incorrect interpretations. Our minds largely operate in a subjective environment. So, even though I cannot answer your question about how ones bias can effect the result of gene sequencing, I am confident that that operation, or any other method, is not as straightforward, or as simple, as you are claiming that it is. The problem is us.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dennis Venema
  To: Jack ; asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:53 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

  Are you saying that short of outright fraud, all scientific data is completely objective? That seems so naive that it is literally incredible.

  No, I am not saying that - I am questioning what is meant by "not objective."

  Yes, bias in medicine is an issue largely because of a lack of ability to completely control one's experiment, making these areas of research more prone to bias. The way that this is dealt with is by repeating trials with ever larger sample sizes, controlling for as many variables as possible, etc - i.e. the scientific method. But realize you are talking to a geneticist / cell biologist. When I sequence a stretch of chromosome in a fruit fly, (using the proper controls) pray tell how might my "biases" influence the results? The sequence is the sequence - unless I have made an error. Same deal for the human and chimp genome projects - yet I've seen YECs waive away the striking identity between our genomes with a vague "well, that data was produced by biased Darwinists." The point I'm trying to make is that the worldview of the person running the sequencing machine is irrelevant - the data won't change if the experiment is done properly. If you disagree, and think that a bias would change things, please explain why.

  The facts are still the facts right? Not only was the data from the study withheld from publication for a couple of years, (obviously Schering-Plough had nothing to gain by publishing it), but there is substantial controversy about what the results actually mean. To find out who says what, all you need to do is follow the money. Bias is inevitable in science just like anything else, scientists are not above this kind of thing.

  Aren't you making my point for me here? This sounds like a case of fraud - if this company withheld data (i.e. didn't publish it, thus it couldn't be examined or repeated by others) but made skewed/misleading advertising claims, then that hardly calls the objectivity of the scientific method into question - this company was not following the scientific method.

  Bias is inevitable in science just like anything else, scientists are not above this kind of thing.

  Yes, individual bias or corporate fraud is an issue - but the scientific method is robust nonetheless because of the premium it places on reproducibility - the data needs to come out the same in the hands of a Christian, Mormon, or atheist, or whatever - or the staff researchers at company A or at their competition - for it to be trusted. Interpretations can change, mechanisms unknown at the time and thus not controlled for may be revealed later, but data, properly collected, is the data.

  dennis

  On 4/23/08 7:06 PM, "Jack" <drsyme@cablespeed.com> wrote:

    Do you really believe this? I cant believe you would say something like this. The data is still the data? Are you saying that short of outright fraud, all scientific data is completely objective? That seems so naive that it is literally incredible. Yes you introduce bias into the results, why do you think that the standard of medical trials is double blinded studies? The scientists have to be blinded too so they dont introduce their bias. I doubt that even in "hard science" things are as simple as the "facts are still the facts", but it is far from the case in medicine.

    Are you familiar with the ENHANCE trial? This was a trial sponsored by Schering-Plough the makers of Vytorin. Vytorin is a combination of ezetimibe/simvastatin. Ezetimibe alone is Zetia. Vytorin is supposed to lower cholesterol, specifically LDL cholesterol through two different mechanisms of action (you have probably seen the commercials," two sources of cholesterol, fettucine alfredo, and your Uncle Alfredo"). The ENHANCE trial was a study to prove that the combination of ezetimibe/simvastatin was better than simvastatin alone in lowering cholesterol levels, and in slowing progression of athersclerotic lesions. But there was no significant difference between the two groups in lowering cholesterol, and in fact the progression of atherosclerotic lesions was greater in the group treated with the combination compared to simvastatin alone but not significantly.

    The facts are still the facts right? Not only was the data from the study withheld from publication for a couple of years, (obviously Schering-Plough had nothing to gain by publishing it), but there is substantial controversy about what the results actually mean. To find out who says what, all you need to do is follow the money. Bias is inevitable in science just like anything else, scientists are not above this kind of thing.

      ----- Original Message -----
       
      From: Dennis Venema <mailto:Dennis.Venema@twu.ca>
       
      To: David Opderbeck <mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com>
       
      Cc: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com> ; georgecooper@sbcglobal.net ; asa@calvin.edu
       
      Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:26 PM
       
      Subject: Re: [asa] Expelled and ID
       

      Hmm. I still don't see your point. Yes, funding, etc can direct research - for example, I do work on diabetes / insulin signaling because I am funded to do so - but does that mean you think that I introduce a bias into my results because of my funding source? Yes, funding can direct the types of experiments that are done, but the data is still the data if it can be reproduced - the quality of the experiments should not be affected. In cases where things were skewed/faked for an agenda the deception comes to light when someone tries to repeat the experiments.

      dennis

      On 4/23/08 5:16 PM, "David Opderbeck" <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:

       

        At the risk of sounding anti-science, which I don't think I am, I don't see how you can gainsay that institutional science is skewed by agendas and viewpoints that aren't always objectively scientific. Institutional science is driven by funding. Funding is allocated by a relatively small, relatively non-diverse segment of both the general public and the scientific community, and the mechanisms and procedures of funding are truly accessible only to an equally small and non-diverse population.
         
        Moreover, in some areas, particularly public health and pharmaceuticals, funding mechanisms are heavily influenced by intellectual property rights, markets, and multinational corporate interests. The data is the data, but the question of which data gets developed -- which research programs get funded -- is heavily influenced by social, cultural and economic factors that may have little to do with scientific merit or the broader pursuit of truth.
         
        (I am not here suggesting that claims of peer review bias against ID advocates have merit. That in particular isn't my bailiwick, but I do believe that peer review is not as objective as it is often made out to be).

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Received on Thu Apr 24 06:02:13 2008

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