Re: [asa] Doubting science

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Thu Dec 03 2009 - 16:43:34 EST

On Wed, 2 Dec 2009, Jon Tandy wrote:

> I'm wondering if there isn't an analogy between the current "Climategate
> scandal" and a few high profile scandals in the evolution debate.  In
> particular, there was the so-called "faking" of moths pinned to trees for
> purposes of photographing samples, when in reality Kettlewell's experiments
> don't show evidence of fraud (and have been duplicated by subsequent
> experiments).  Then there were the fake fossils (Piltdown man, for instance)
> which are still trumpeted by anti-evolutionists as evidence that the whole
> establishment of evolution is similarly fraught with scandal and deceit. 
> Yet despite these appalling examples of moral and ethical failure, there is
> a tremendous amount of evidence from multiple lines of investigation that
> can't be swept away by reference to a few questionable or even falsified
> evidences. 

Another possible analog of the Piltdown hoax was an event a few years ago
when the National Geographic was fooled by a Chinese farmer who had made
some money for himself by putting together parts of two different fossils
and claiming that they were of a single individual. I don't think the
identity or motivation of the Piltdown hoaxer are known, but it does not
appear that in either of the cases I have cited the hoaxer was trying to
advance his own scientific theory. Rather it was a case of scientists too
interested in amassing evidence for their theories so that they were
gullible to such hoaxes.

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

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Received on Thu Dec 3 16:43:50 2009

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