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First Things has noticed science is broken

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Yes, even First Things.

From software engineer William A. Wilson at First Things:

If science was unprepared for the influx of careerists, it was even less prepared for the blossoming of the Cult of Science. The Cult is related to the phenomenon described as “scientism”; both have a tendency to treat the body of scientific knowledge as a holy book or an a-religious revelation that offers simple and decisive resolutions to deep questions. But it adds to this a pinch of glib frivolity and a dash of unembarrassed ignorance. Its rhetorical tics include a forced enthusiasm (a search on Twitter for the hashtag “#sciencedancing” speaks volumes) and a penchant for profanity. Here in Silicon Valley, one can scarcely go a day without seeing a t-shirt reading “Science: It works, b—es!” The hero of the recent popular movie The Martian boasts that he will “science the sh— out of” a situation. One of the largest groups on Facebook is titled “I f—ing love Science!” (a name which, combined with the group’s penchant for posting scarcely any actual scientific material but a lot of pictures of natural phenomena, has prompted more than one actual scientist of my acquaintance to mutter under her breath, “What you truly love is pictures”). Some of the Cult’s leaders like to play dress-up as scientists—Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are two particularly prominent examples— but hardly any of them have contributed any research results of note. Rather, Cult leadership trends heavily in the direction of educators, popularizers, and journalists.More.

Curiously, News first learned about I f—ing love Science! at a writers’ conference, where an attendee wondered why it wasn’t one of our regular sources here.

Hmmm. ScienceDaily, Phys.org, Eurekalert, etc., have their failings, to be sure. But readers can go here for themselves if they think “I Love… ” would be any improvement. If you do, stay there. In the age of scientism, most people will.

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8 Replies to “First Things has noticed science is broken

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    I think its about sampling.
    They are looking at the cool accomplishments by man affecting everything and they are saying its due to SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY.
    This is poor sampling.
    its really due people who have applied intelligence to conclusions.
    Yet more have failed. One could say SCIENCE has done mostly flops.
    Yet that is science TOO.
    They should be LOVING people. Not science.
    Its the conclusions they are impressed with and are giving, poor sampling, credit to this thing called science.

    Yes. They separate scientific accomplishment from peoples accomplishment based on intelligence.
    There is no science. Its just a methodology, at best, that kicks in when people are figuring things out.

    They are loving CONCLUSIONS really. They imagine these conclusions come from science. They don’t any more the majoprity of wrong conclusions come from science.
    Its just thinking people being right or wrong.
    Creationism is right . Evolutionism is wrong.
    Don’t blame science. Blame the people.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Zachriel says:

    William A. Wilson: The problem with ­science is that so much of it simply isn’t.

    The discussion about false positives in science is an important issue, one that is being addressed — by science!

    William A. Wilson: The hero of the recent popular movie The Martian boasts that he will “science the sh— out of” a situation.

    Great line!

    William A. Wilson: Some of the Cult’s leaders like to play dress-up as scientists—Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are two particularly prominent examples— but hardly any of them have contributed any research results of note.

    Science education is a different skill set than science, however, Tyson has had many scientific papers published in cosmology; while his mentor, Sagan, published extensively. On the other hand, Nye is an engineer — just like Wilson.
    http://www.haydenplanetarium.o.....e#research

    William A. Wilson: When cultural trends attempt to render science a sort of religion-less clericalism, scientists are apt to forget that they are made of the same crooked timber as the rest of humanity and will necessarily imperil the work that they do.

    The examples provided, “Science: It works, b—es!” “I f—ing love Science!”, don’t support ‘clericalism’. Most scientists are well-aware of the limitations of human science.

    The process of scientific advancement is far from monotonic. While recent examination of false positives is a wake-up call for the scientific community, the answer is better science, not less science.

    The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be. — Douglas Adams

  4. 4
    jimmontg says:

    Zachriel I wouldn’t use Sagan as an example of a good scientist, he was more of a popularizer of some science and some nonsense for political gain and policy change. Him and Paul Ehrlich’s Nuclear Winter malthusian lie based on no known science and only 3 years after a real scientific study that said such things were unknown. They made up the TTAPS equation out of unknowables and predicted a 5000 megaton exchange would cool the temperature by 35C. All known volcanic eruptions never changed by more than 2C and the ice ages changed global temps by 10C. They ignored real science for personal gain or glory and that is still an issue today.
    “A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a “year without a summer,” and endangering crops around the world. Sagan stressed this outcome was so likely that “it should affect the war plans.” None of it happened.”

    Look who is part of the AGW crowd it’s our old friend Paul Ehrlich. I am not impressed by the science of Sagan and now Tyson. They are just repeaters of somebody else’s research. Nye and Ehrlich are just low life bandwagon money/attention grabbers. Remember Ehrlich and his Population Bomb and New Ice Age lies? Media savvy science mongers do not impress me. Nye is nothing but an attention grabber with a fascist’s heart. At least Sagan never said that people that disagreed with his pet theories should go to jail. The world of science is acquiring a bad image thanks to such media “scientists”.

  5. 5
    jimmontg says:

    Here’s some good quotes from the late climate skeptic Michael Crichton speech titled, “Aliens Caused Global Warming”.

    “What, then, can we say were the lessons of Nuclear Winter? I believe the lesson was that with a catchy name, a strong policy position and an aggressive media campaign, nobody will dare to criticize the science, and in short order, a terminally weak thesis will be established as fact.

    After that, any criticism becomes beside the point. The war is already over without a shot being fired. That was the lesson, and we had a textbook application soon afterward, with second hand smoke.

    In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was “responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults,” and that it ” impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of people.” In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.)

    Furthermore, since there was no statistical association at the 95% confidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified second-hand smoke as a Group-A Carcinogen.

    This was openly fraudulent science, but it formed the basis for bans on smoking in restaurants, offices, and airports. California banned public smoking in 1995. Soon, no claim was too extreme. By 1998, the Christian Science Monitor was saying that “Second-hand smoke is the nation’s third-leading preventable cause of death.” The American Cancer Society announced that 53,000 people died each year of second-hand smoke. The evidence for this claim is nonexistent.

    In 1998, a Federal judge held that the EPA had acted improperly, had “committed to a conclusion before research had begun”, and had “disregarded information and made findings on selective information.”

    The reaction of Carol Browner, head of the EPA was: “We stand by our science; there’s wide agreement. The American people certainly recognize that exposure to second hand smoke brings a whole host of health problems.”

    Again, note how the claim of consensus trumps science. In this case, it isn’t even a consensus of scientists that Browner evokes! It’s the consensus of the American people.

    Meanwhile, ever-larger studies failed to confirm any association. A large, seven-country WHO study in 1998 found no association. Nor have well-controlled subsequent studies, to my knowledge. Yet we now read, for example, that second-hand smoke is a cause of breast cancer. At this point you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke.

    As with nuclear winter, bad science is used to promote what most people would consider good policy. I certainly think it is. I don’t want people smoking around me. So who will speak out against banning second-hand smoke? Nobody, and if you do, you’ll be branded a shill of RJ Reynolds. A big tobacco flunky. But the truth is that we now have a social policy supported by the grossest of superstitions.

    And we’ve given the EPA a bad lesson in how to behave in the future. We’ve told them that cheating is the way to succeed.”

    All of that speech at Caltech was spot on and whatever you want to say about Crichton’s personal beliefs is irrelevant. I am so tired of the ad hominem and straw man tactics and it has become so old that I can’t believe they still keep doing it and they wonder why such a large segment of the population doesn’t believe their propaganda..

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    jimmontg: I wouldn’t use Sagan as an example of a good scientist

    Sagan published more than 600 research papers, including important work in planetology, so it would be wrong to suggest he hadn’t “contributed any research results of note”.

  7. 7
    jimmontg says:

    Zach; How much of Sagan’s research was affected by personal and political persuasions. You see it works both ways. Scientist’s research that isn’t appropo are looked at the same way I am looking at Sagan. Most of his published works were as I outlined above. He believed in the SETI religion too. If I am not mistaken, Tyson does as well.

    It is sort of like the astrobiologists. What exactly do they have to study? NO Thing or not anything except conjecture. The assertion of UFO sightings being the work of Angels and demons is just as plausible. If UFOs were what as what Sagan and others have surmised , we would have proof that the government could not hide. I have seen UFOs and if I postulate that they are actually demons I must ask where is your evidence to refute my assertions? Welcome to 21st century scientific methodology. There may be much truth, but how is a reader of a non scientific and political savvy background supposed to discern the difference?

    I have to wonder how much “settled” science is a religion.

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    jimmontg: How much of Sagan’s research was affected by personal and political persuasions. You see it works both ways.

    Don’t know. How was Sagan’s hypothesis concerning the atmosphere of Venus related to politics?

    jimmontg: Most of his published works were as I outlined above.

    You don’t seem to have actually looked at his research papers, as opposed to his popular works.

    jimmontg: It is sort of like the astrobiologists. What exactly do they have to study? NO Thing or not anything except conjecture.

    Sorta like scientists who theorized about exoplanets.

    Exoplanets were hypothesized by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century (before that, Aristarchus of Samos had hypothesized in the 3rd century BCE that stars were suns). Since then, the existence of exoplanets has been supported by theories of star and planet formation, and evidence that the process is on-going in nebula. However, the first exoplanets weren’t directly detected until 1992. Does that mean scientists were making an incredibly lucky guess, or did they have valid reasons for their hypothesis?

    jimmontg: If UFOs were what as what Sagan and others have surmised

    Sagan didn’t think the evidence that UFOs were of intelligent extraterrestrial origin to be convincing.

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