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Science Politics

The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science 962

G3ckoG33k writes "Fact-free science is not a joke; it is very much on the move, and it is quite possibly the most dangerous movement in centuries, for the entirety of mankind. One can say it began as counter-movement to Karl Popper's ground-breaking proposals in the early 20th century, which insisted that statements purporting to describe the reality should be made falsifiable. A few decades later, some critics of Popper said that statements need peer acceptance, which then makes also natural science a social phenomenon. Even later, in 1996, professor Alan Sokal submitted a famous article ridiculing the entire anti-science movement. Now New York Times has an article describing the latest chilling acts of the socially relativistic, postmodern loons. It is a chilling read, and they may be swinging both the political left and right. Have they been successful in transforming the world yet? How would we know?"
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The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science

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  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday March 07, 2011 @09:46AM (#35405212) Homepage

    For what it's worth, string theory is firmly in "hypothesis" range, and even string theorists acknowledge that. The question, if it is a complete mental masturbation or not, is kind of undecided, but judging by the number of people involved and effect on anything practical, it's not important at this point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @09:58AM (#35405380)

    Professor David Nutt uses science in a paper against prohibition of drugs, and is fired the next day. Article from 2009 [guardian.co.uk]
    Popular opinion and straw men are the new trusted sources of facts, guys! Science and statistical analysis are for fringe nutjobs and quacks!

  • by dyshexic (1535987) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:20AM (#35405608)
    popper's analysis of science is weak. It's based in the idea that their are 'facts' and that these facts are truths. If we accept certain axioms such as that we are not living in 'the matrix' etc then we can all agree that yes the sun is 'above' the earth, that planes fly, that this conversation is happening on server somewhere. Anybody who understands anything about the philosophy of science will understand and accept these things. The issue with popper is that he fails to recognise that the creation of scientific truth is a human endeavour and thus subject to human flaws, a far better analysis of the production of science is produced by Bruno Latour in Science in action - see Google books http://is.gd/07KejQ [is.gd] Perhaps the OP should widen their circle of scholarship before making such muddle-headed comments PS Sokal may have got a paper published in social text, but various scientific journals have accepted papers from people that show they are equally as gullible to accepting papers devoid of logic or proof. The problem with peer review is that it is peer review: ideas that are only acceptable to ones peers will be published. Challenges to the current orthodoxy typically have to be publicised through journals outside the mainstream view
  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:22AM (#35405646)

    Well, evolution is just a theory, just like general relativity. You're doing exactly what you accuse others of doing. Science isn't really about true or false; Newtonian physics is an accurate description/model of reality, up to a certain point.

    Theories are tools for making sense of the world. Equating the theory with reality is probably a bad thing to do, given the process. Theories tend to be simplified models - which by definition aren't reality.

    "The theory of evolution is true" is a statement of belief. "The theory of evolution seems to account for the different variations of life" is probably a more accurate (or maybe a more careful and precise) way of presenting it.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:23AM (#35405662)

    Not to mention the linked article clearly aligns Republicans with fact-free science by providing several examples of Republicans' actions and statements.

    I'm sure there are some on the Democratic side, but by affiliation, theirs are fewer.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:25AM (#35405708)

    it's like believing that the earth is flat, which was widely held by even scientists centuries ago.

    No, it wasn't. That's a fallacy.

    "There never was a period of 'flat earth darkness' among scholars (regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth's roundness as an established fact of cosmology." -- Stephen Jay Gould

    Reference: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/WS06/pmo/eng/Gould-FlatEarth.pdf [fu-berlin.de]

  • by Maritz (1829006) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:12AM (#35406408)

    I first heard about this in Richard Dawkin's book "The Greatest Show On Earth". A very impressive E. Coli experiment that pretty much shows evolution in action, specifically strains of bacteria evolving the ability to digest a citrate that their ancestors were previously unable to.

    E Coli Long-Term Evolution Experiment [wikipedia.org]

  • by Cwix (1671282) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:13AM (#35406410)

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/old/3772.pdf [nrel.gov]

    Its an older study but the first I found on google. I'm sure there are much better sources out there though. Page 33 of the pdf shows a chart I think boils it all down.

    NREL is part of the DOE btw.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:33AM (#35406730) Journal

    Didn't you used to call yourself commodore128_lurv or something? It would be odd to see two commodore aficionados who are also ultra right wing climate change denialists on the same board. Why'd you change your name to something almost identical?

  • by CycleMan (638982) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:48AM (#35407010)
    Perhaps we need two words: one for small-scale evolutionary change due to a shift in the frequency of two competing genes (light versus dark moths) and one for global descent of all living things from non-living things. Your cross-pollination (lantana is a great choice here) demonstrates the former very nicely but does nothing to prove the latter, which is the point of contention. It is too bad that speakers of the English language in its sloppiness uses one word for these two very different things, the micro and the macro.
  • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:19PM (#35407500)

    God does not exist because you can't prove it and the ONUS OF PROOF IS ON YOU.

    As an open minded skeptic, I do want to point out that our ability to provide proof (for or against) God's existence has absolutely no bearing God's existence. As scientists we like to assume the null hypothesis until it is disproved. That's just good science. But simply because we make the assumption doesn't make it true.

  • by witherstaff (713820) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:29PM (#35407668) Homepage

    Actually 'climate change' was created by republican political consultants in the Bush era to sound less scary [wikipedia.org], not because of some nefarious scheme by climate scientists.

    “Climate change” is politically correct nonsense [algorelied.com], but Republican pollster Frank Luntz and George W. Bush are to blame, not Al Gore. Luntz sold the phrase to Bush: “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming.” While “global warming” has catastrophic connotations attached, “climate change” suggests a more controllable challenge. Bush agreed. Republican political appointees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where I was a biologist, forced scientists to always use “climate change” instead of the accurate and alarming “global warming.”

A good supervisor can step on your toes without messing up your shine.