RE: [asa] Doubting science

From: Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net>
Date: Fri Dec 04 2009 - 01:23:53 EST

You don't need to shout Michael ! (I'm sure you read it correctly, but I
said the same as you - there was no fraud in that case. However, I see how
my phrasing of it may have wrongly associated two ideas improperly, without
adequate explanation.) My reason for bringing up the peppered moth is that
this was a case of ALLEGED scientific fraud, which upon investigation turned
out to not be the case - that could indeed turn out to be the case in the
so-called "Climategate", at least with some of the e-mails in question. One
reason to hold out for level headedness and proper investigation before
jumping to conclusions.

 

I did want to reply further to Schwarzwald's comment, " The tendency of some
people who boost evolution and climate change to misrepresent what the
science says, what science can say, and what impact this should have on our
lives. There IS quite a lot of scandal and deceit with regards to
evolution, even if the underlying science is solid."

 

Not having a dog in the race over either AGW or evolution, and personally
hoping that both will one day prove not to be true in the extreme position
advocated by some scientists, I don't have a problem acknowledging that
there is something to what you say about science (i.e. scientists) stating
overconfidently what they presume to "know". As a community of Christians
concerned about science, we ought to be clear about speaking the truth about
what we know versus what we only suppose.

Yet we should also be very concerned about the (apparently) growing distrust
of science, what seems to me a growing anti-establishment attitude among
those who have a particular axe to grind over supposedly conservative
political and philosophical viewpoint. (And believe me, I have a fairly
conservative view myself, although not as much as I used to be, or as much
as most of my friends and relatives.) The ease with which people seem to
dismiss anything scientific that they happen not to be comfortable with (or
accept any unproven assertion), on the basis of Internet rumors, carefully
chosen excerpts, "expert" opinion from those who don't know what they're
talking about - I think those things ought to concern us greatly.

 

For the sake of discussion, getting back to my original post on this
subject, here is a list of similarities I have put together between YEC and
anti-AGW, versus the establishment science.

 

AGW and evolution science:

- Conducted primarily by thousands of professionals around the world,
through careful field work and theoretical analysis, refinement and testing
of hypotheses, etc.

- Published in peer-reviewed scientific publications; results reviewed,
critiqued, replicated and/or contradicted independently by others trained in
the relevant fields.

- Through careful analysis and multiple lines of evidence from various
sub-disciplines and independent researchers, a consensus view has almost
universally been accepted in the various fields of the basic conclusions of
the science (for AGW: the earth is warming substantially in response to
human activity; for evolution: evolution has occurred over the vast
geological ages of the earth).

- (In deference to Schwarzwald's and others' comments) The experts may tend
to overstate what is known versus what is currently theorized. For
evolution: even though the evidence strongly points to it having occurred,
there is so much that isn't known and can't be explained about specific
mechanisms, etc., that the level of confidence in "natural evolution" having
the power to create so much of what we see does seem (to me) more than can
be reasonably justified. I strongly suspect that the same could be said of
AGW, with strong predictions being given but a lot of uncertainty still
existing concerning all the variables and mechanisms involved. (However, as
a non-specialist, it's hard for me to critique on the basis of reason and
evidence.)

- As a group, scientists do seem to tend toward being dismissive of the
minority voices and critics from outside their disciplines. They tend to
dismiss the problems with their theories and emphasize the agreement of data
with theory. Kuhn's paradigm theory points to this as a characteristic
phenomenon.

 

Anti-evolution and Anti-AGW:

- Conducted primarily by those outside the establishment of science, usually
by those not qualified in the relevant fields; however, both groups can
point to at least a handful of "professionals" who do have relevant
qualifications, who dismiss the consensus view.

- Not typically published in professional or scientific journals or subject
to serious peer review, but appeal largely to popular media, Internet blogs,
e-mail propaganda.

- Quick to point out individual data points or alleged anomalies with the
consensus theory, but unable to address the large scale of data in support
of the consensus theory, or to produce carefully researched and verifiable
alternative theories to explain the data.

- They also tend to overstate the strength of their own position and make
unqualified statements as to the foolishness and pending collapse of the
consensus view.

- Dismissive of evidence that contradicts their position.

 

These last two points seem to be held in common by all (or most). And let's
not even talk about how both sides are motivated by their extra-scientific
political and philosophical agendas to hold these antithetical positions.

 

Jon Tandy

 

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Jim Armstrong
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 4:13 PM
To: ASA
Subject: Re: [asa] Doubting science

 

Just to complete the message:
...and those that were frauds were discovered by........and made public
by.............??
Guess what? The (untrusted?) science community.........
JimA [Friend of ASA]

Michael Roberts wrote:

We need to say it LOUD AND CLEAR THAT THERE WAS NO FRAUD OVER THE PEPPERED
MOTHS. (Capitals deliberate as I am shouting.) Those who claim that are
blatant liars or repeating blatant lies.

 

Piltdown was a great hoax - met one of the suspects in his 80s. I wish I had
done it:)

 

To add to them there was an Indian palaeontologist who published lots of
fraudulent papers until he was rumbled by an Australian - typical of an Oz.

 

Scientific fraud is fairly rare

 

Michael

----- Original Message -----

From: Jon Tandy <mailto:tandyland@earthlink.net>

To: 'AmericanScientificAffiliation' <mailto:asa@calvin.edu>

Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 4:46 AM

Subject: [asa] Doubting science

 

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.

 

It seems that an unhealthy anti-science mentality is just perpetuated by the
hysterical or polarizing reactions to such scientific frauds, deplorable
though they may be.

 

 

Jon Tandy

 

 

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Received on Fri Dec 4 01:24:27 2009

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