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Inference Review did NOT set out to make a fool of cosmologist Adam Becker

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It’s not a job that needs doing, the editors say.

First, background: Recently, an online science mag, Undark, published a rather nasty little attack on Inference Review, an online journal devoted to publishing carefully argued and sourced opinion, whether popular or not. It published an article by Michael Denton on Darwinism’s problems (yes, yes, at #TwitterforScience!, that’s a no-no). As Becker tells it, when Inference Review contacted him about a possible assignment, he found:

Several articles on the site argued against the theory of evolution, for example, and at least one dismissed the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming. Later, through tax documents and interviews, I would learn that all of Inference’s funding came from a surprising source: Peter Thiel. Since Inference’s start, Thiel, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, has donated at least $1.7 million to the outlet.Adam Becker, “Junk Science or the Real Thing? ‘Inference’ Publishes Both.” at Undark

So Inference Review allows dissenting opinion and Peter (PayPal) Thiel made money in the new economy. Which proves what, exactly?

Becker goes on at length, editorializing against Inference Review, which he is compelled neither to read nor support through his tax funds. Then he finds some mediocrities marketing snobbery (you have nothing else to market maybe?) to quote:

In May, Robert Dunn, an ecologist at North Carolina State University, wrote a book review for the publication. When I asked Dunn if he knew about Inference’s record on evolution, he said no, calling the revelation a “rather horrifying surprise.” Monica Green, a historian of medicine at Arizona State University who wrote for Inference, was similarly unaware of both the outlet’s publication history and funding. “I had not heard that Inference is a journal with a history of publishing articles” arguing against evolution, she said. Adam Becker, “Junk Science or the Real Thing? ‘Inference’ Publishes Both.” at Undark

Hello? Darwin’s world is collapsing around us, snowflakes. See Suzan Mazur’s new book Darwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology and the Dissent from Darwinism list now topping 1000 career scientists. And these are unrelated events we heard about just this week, never mind all the others of the last two decades.

The question now isn’t so much whether “evolution” happened as, What, exactly, happened?

Sure, we got here somehow but the old science stories aren’t holding up anymore. Sorry, Darwin cult. We didn’t do this to you. Blame genome mapping, for one.

If Inference Review is publishing on that topic and Undark wouldn’t dare do so—but publishes a rather stupid attack on Inference Review instead—that tells us something about which publication is worth spending time on.

Anyway, it turns out that Nobelist Sheldon Lee Glashow, a physicist associated with Inference Review, published a less-than-flattering review of Becker’s What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (Basic Books, 2018) there. A motive?

Inference Review responded to Becker and it’s fun reading. One senses mathematician David Berlinski’s shadow in the background. Wade through Becker’s whining first, to get the context, but here’s the gist of the response:

Inference commissioned Sheldon Glashow to review Becker’s book in the spring of 2018, well before Becker was known to Inference. The idea that we would require the services of a Nobel Laureate in order to make a fool of Becker is absurd. Becker is capable of doing that quite by himself. More.

While we are on the topic anyway: Here are Columbia mathematician Peter Woit’s reservations about Becker’s book and Becker’s reply.

Note: Becker has come up on our screen a few times recently, mainly disparaging falsification as a theory in science:

See also: If quantum mechanics were a researcher, she’d be fired

Is The Search For Meaning In Quantum Physics A Form Of Religion? (cf Adam Becker)

Laszlo Bencze On The Current Campaign Against Karl Popper’s Falsification Criterion For Science

Does A “Fetish For Falsification And Observation” Hold Back Science?


The difficult birth of science’s assisted suicide: The multiverse

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One Reply to “Inference Review did NOT set out to make a fool of cosmologist Adam Becker

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmm, just re-read Sheldon Lee Glashow, Nobel Laureate’s, devastating review of Becker’s book,,

    Not So Real – Sheldon Lee Glashow

    And now seeing Becker’s refusal to publish a rebuttal in Inference…Reminded me of “That awkward moment when you can’t back up all that pre-fight trash you talked.”

    Overconfident Boxer Gets His A## Handed To Him

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