Ross Pomeroy, writing at RealClearScience, tells us that his holy book is Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World (1997). He offers eight commandments of Sagan (1934–1996) with supporting comments from him, including
Thou shalt demand evidence for claims to knowledge.
“If it were widely understood that claims to knowledge require adequate evidence before they can be accepted, there would be no room for pseudoscience.” More.
That sounds nice but it is breathtakingly naive. What is and isn’t adequate evidence is always a matter in dispute. Many in science believe strongly that there must be extraterrestrial intelligences out there, to say nothing of a multiverse, yet there is no evidence for either. And does that matter to them? There is lots of evidence for the fine-tuning of our universe for life and that doesn’t matter either — except as a jumping off point for claims about a multiverse (because if there isn’t a multiverse, we would need to conclude that our universe really is fine-tuned). And the situation is the same in science all the way down.
For reference, here are the original Ten Commandments, the jumping off point for the basic idea.
Added: Here’s an item from Salvo on science writer Chris Mooney’s religious adoration of Sagan:
If Sagan is Allah, then his messenger just might be Chris Mooney, a science journalist whose recent book with Sheril Kirshenbaum, Unscientific America: How Science Illiteracy Threatens our Future (Basic Books, 2009), mentions the astronomer’s name no fewer than 60 times.
Though Mooney might claim otherwise, Unscientific America appears based upon the premise that “science literacy” requires full assent to the “consensus” on controversial topics like evolution, embryonic stem-cell research, and global warming. It’s not even clear whether scientific literacy demands an understanding of science, provided that one endorses all the proper policy positions.
By redefining scientific literacy from an understanding of science into wholesale capitulation to the “consensus,” true scientific literacy—including the right to debate and dissent—is left in the dust. More.
Debate? Dissent? Who are they?
My own impression is that Sagan was a charismatic airhead, nowhere in the league of his first wife, Lynn Margulis. (O’Leary for News)
See also: Question for multiverse theorists: To what can science appeal, if not evidence?