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Why is “science” better than “anti-science” anyway?

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ASA 2012
Here's ASA 2012

Re Caroline Crocker’s “Has the American Scientific Affiliation Forgotten Their Stated Identity:

Well, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Consider eugenics:

Pro:

In 1911, it editorialized about “The Science of Breeding Better Men”:

The proper attitude to be taken toward the perpetuation of poor types is that which has been attributed to [Thomas] Huxley. “We are sorry for you,” he is reported to have said; “we will do our best for you (and in so doing we elevate ourselves, since mercy blesses him that gives and him that takes), but we deny you the right to parentage. You may live, but you must not propagate.”

Con:

The only really big institution that did not endorse eugenics was the Roman Catholic Church, and that fact was widely cited as incontrovertible evidence of the Church’s “anti-science” backwardness.

Who was right in the end? Who was right? More.

“… science” has a restricted meaning in the view of many journalists. It means, for example, the truth of human-caused global warming, the necessity of human embryonic stem cell research, and the view that human mind is indistinguishable from the chimpanzee mind. “Anti-science” means, by contrast, doubt about human influence on global warming compared with the Sun’s cycles, confidence that adult stem cells (especially the patient’s own cells) work well, and doubt that chimpanzees really think like people.

As we start hearing the spin on what Crocker has reported here, keep this in mind: If the best they’ve got is, “Your view is ‘anti-science,’” smell a rat.

Incidentally, it wasn’t especial sanctity that prevented the Catholic Church’s involvement (when most other churches did cave) in eugenics; rather, antiquity. The Church knew that the most reliable, most ancient prejudice in society is that the rabble are too numerous and that they’re the reason everything is going downhill. That prejudice is usually wrong, occasionally right, but in no way a guide to decision-making. And calling it science is no help at all.

Neither, probably, were the prejudices aired at the ASA meeting.

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One Reply to “Why is “science” better than “anti-science” anyway?

  1. 1
    wateron1 says:

    Hey there,

    Ive been trying to stick up for ID and show some cited research by you guys. If you don’t mind, and have the time, can you give me a good come back for the smoke screen below, in quotes. Was asking this person for empirical evidence for Neodarwinsim, and was hit by this:

    “Hmmmm ever hear of oil and coal? Where do you think so many organic beings ended up? Why do you think they call these things “fossil fuels?” This is what we get instead of fossils in most situations.

    The depth you ignorance appears limitless. You will never be able to put together a complete chain of transitional forms for every species alive today because of the difficulty of providing every step in the chain of evolution. However, there are some that are very well defined. Go look for horses or elephants as two interesting examples.

    Why do you think the creatures that were alive millions of years ago are mostly extinct today? Why are there no fossils of say a red breasted robin at the same time we had dragon flies nearly 3 feet long? The reasons are simple – these species did not exist at the same time. Moreover, species like extremely large insects could *NOT* exist today because of changes in our atmosphere that occurred over time.

    How do you explain species arriving and disappearing in the fossil record? Is the designer continually introducing new species and taking some away? Simple logic says one of two things must be true: 1. creation must be a continuous process for which species are created and some are destroyed. 2. There must be some mechanism of biological change that allows species to change and adapt to environmental changes. The strongest evidence is for door #2.

    The *MODERN* theory of evolutionary biology does not hinge on a complete fossil record. *MODERN* evolutionary biology includes biochemistry, genetics, comparative morphology at the molecular and gross levels, and orders of magnitude more fossils than were available to Darwin. Go research retroviral markers in human DNA, chromosomal merging in human chromosome 2, pseudo gene sequences, etc.

    What you need to do is read a few books about science that were written without a political or social agenda in mind. Start with Wikipedia and pull up some references. The best cure for ignorance is better information”

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