Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm Not a Scientist, But...

This is darkly funny:

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.

This is the reason why Popular Science (which I don't read) is no longer allowing comments on their new articles; because the big mean "trolls and spammers" are confusing people with their "war on expertise."

Huh, you know, in my experience, genuine trolls are not usually very convincing; they tend to be more in the "swear, swear,out-of-context fact, CAPSLOCK SWEAR, dubious statistics, accusation of racism" department. Intelligent readers can usually pick them out.

No, I don't really buy the "trolls are skewering people's reactions" excuse. I think the above-quoted paragraph gives a much more honest glimpse into their thought process. Simply put, too many peons are questioning their scientific overlords and the overlords (excuse me; 'protectors') don't like it.

The sentence "Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again." is particularly illuminating. It's science. Everything is up for grabs! Science is supposed to be the pursuit of truth, wherever it may lead. The history of science is simply stiff with venerable theories and long-held consensueses  being overturned by mavericks who dared to question the establishment (Copernicus, Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, etc.). In fact, it's practically the definition of a great scientific achievement that it undermines the "bedrock scientific doctrine" of the time.

If more and more people are questioning the doctrines of Darwinian Evolution and Anthropomorphic Global Warming, maybe that means scientists should take a more critical view of those subjects instead of just blissfully going along with the established consensus. Maybe, instead of complaining about how persecuted they are, they should take a step back and ask themselves "okay, do the observed facts actually still support these theories and why?" Wouldn't that be both more apt to convince skeptics and more, well, scientific than just trying to shut out opposition?

That's the big difference between religious and scientific doctrine: religious doctrine is revealed, so the basic 'facts,' so to speak, never change: Scripture says what it says and no one has the authority to make it say anything different. Scientific doctrine is based entirely on observation, meaning that it only holds as long as the observed facts coincide with it. This makes them more bluntly demonstrable (i.e. you can observe water boiling at 100 degrees in a way you can't observe the Eucharist turning into the Body and Blood of Our Lord), but it also makes them more vulnerable to change (since the law "water always boils at 100 degrees" only holds good as long as no one observes it boiling at 80 degrees).

Scientific theories, especially comparatively recent ones like evolution and global warming, are always subject to change; every scientific theory is always one experiment away from obselescence. I would think that a magazine supposedly dedicated to the advancement of science would understand this.

Vivat Christus Rex!

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