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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 BCoates ( 512464 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:45AM (#35405198)

    I love how the article is equally fact-free, but makes sure to include several opinion polls.

  • by orphiuchus ( 1146483 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:54AM (#35405320)

    Why the hell does this article quote a literature professor on the topic of the quality of scientific research? How the fuck would he know?

  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:00AM (#35405408) Journal
    That's the whole idea of the scientific process, though, in that being wrong drives change. The fact that we've "so often been wrong" I think proves the process works: someone publishes a paper, others peer review it and find it ok but with a few nagging yellow flags, other independent labs perform the same experiment and publish different results, consensus breaks down and alternate, more feasible theories are produced instead. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Also, as a student in research who only just had his first-ever paper accepted and published, I'd have to say your blanket statement about the "most powerful clique" ensuring their papers get published and "no one else"s is patently false. There are always going to be bad apples in research, just like any other field, but that doesn't make the whole process broken.
  • by orphiuchus ( 1146483 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:14AM (#35405538)

    Excellent point. Its funny how anyone who goes against Global Warming is instantly labeled as a perpetrator of "Bad Science", yet a lot of the initial politically funded and motivated research has turned out to be complete garbage.

    I tend to believe that if the early research and consensus had been left to the scientists, and politicians like Al Gore had stayed out of it, it wouldn't be a political issue at all by this point.

    When politics gets involved in science it ruins both.

    Its just like rock music and religion.

  • but we can attribute those periods to natural phenomenon not as influential during out current warming trend, while we can also show evidence that man made phenomenon are most likely the cause of the current trend which is rising MUCH faster than the ones you cited.
  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:21AM (#35405634)
    This whole topic pisses me off. The non-science idiots who try to pervert science with their armchair observations polluted with religion are ruining this country.

    We need science policy based on fact - not fantasy. This creationist crap is what leads to bad policies for the country as a whole too and impacts global warming and energy policy just as much as science funding.

    Keep the nut jobs out of science.
  • by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:23AM (#35405666)

    Gravity is also a theory...

    And it's a wrong one, too! What we experience as "gravity" is nothing more than the Flying Spaghetti Monster pushing down on us.

  • by rjames13 ( 1178191 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:32AM (#35405816)

    This kind of ignorance is dangerous and baffling. It's not as if he's arguing against anthropogenic global warming using science. Hell, maybe he believes in global warming and that it really is man-made. But he refuses to accept what will happen because the Bible says otherwise. What. The. Fuck.

    He actually misunderstands the scripture he references. God says "never again will I curse the earth because of man...". This entirely precludes man himself doing it.

  • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:33AM (#35405818)

    Because of the only two available explanation -- evolutions and divine intervention

    And why do you assume there are only two available explanations? What if neither is correct, but some alternative is? And the two are not necessarily in complete conflict... so, what if parts of both are correct?

    Sigh... (not directed at parent post) this is one of the subjects on Slashdot where people can completely lose their claimed open-mindedness. From the other side, it probably seems as though the people here are just as ignorant and closed-minded because they believe anything from a person labeled "scientist" as true and inerrant. So it's like faith, but it's faith in the works and claims of people.

  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:36AM (#35405876)

    Short version of TFA: "Republicans are anti-science because many of them don't believe empirical data that goes against their world-view and doesn't pander to their folklore addicted, anti-intellectual base."

    With that, I admit I am a Republican. I can't help it if my party left me.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:59AM (#35406174) Homepage Journal

    That could be because the debate has been decided. People who keep it up are doing it for political reasons, not scientific ones. When is the last time some global warming critic brought new facts to the table?

    We get new information daily, we get contrary information daily, we get supportive information daily,

    Where is it? If the critics have so much new information, then where is it? For the information to be "new" in any non-trivial sense, it would have to be of a kind that does not fit the current models. Everything else is just the same old boring stuff. The 1505th confirmation of a theory doesn't qualify as "new" anymore.

  • by Shadowmist ( 57488 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:02PM (#35406208)

    Call it what it is: religion. And no, that does not exclude the "Left".

    If you see this as only religous blowback, you're having a serious underestimation as to what's at stake for the climate deniers. To accept idea of human-influenced climate change threathens the economic foundations of powerful economic interests who would have thier applecarts severely upset by the changes we'd have to make if we started taking our carbon footprint more seriously as a civilisation. Humans have a profound capability for self-denial that is hardly limited to matters of religion.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:32PM (#35406722)

    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.

    The problem is the agenda of the people discounting evolution. It is not about just finding loopholes in evolutionary theory (scientists welcome that, it makes the theory stronger or just kills it if it's wrong), it's about pushing a completely different agenda to non-scientific folks with no basis in science or those with agendas themselves(politicians). Intelligent design is not even a theory, it's like someone claiming that we're living under the Matrix, there's really no way to find out if we are. Science does not even come into the picture, and even theories from scientists like the 'String theory' have been called out for making wild claims with no evidence.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!