An Explanation about Science

Science is an empirical enterprise and thus it works through the examination of the material universe and all that exists within it. Through detailed observation, experimentation, debate, and tentativeness, science advances one step at a time through producing more and more detailed and accurate portrayals of what exists in the universe. And it is precisely because of the principles of peer review and the willingness to reconsider long accepted ideas that errors made in science can be corrected and new findings revealed and confirmed that overthrow long accepted theories.

The problem arises when certain people, adhering to extremist dogmas whether of religion or political ideology, find the findings of modern science in conflict with their beliefs. They could do the seemingly obvious thing of abandoning or modifying their beliefs to fit the evidence that all can see. Sadly, some do not. Instead, they make claims that oppose the scientific consensus, and then to explain why most in the scientific community do not accept these claims, they make additional claims of a conspiracy theory that seems to involve a great many people, which is itself unlikely in the extreme.

There is nothing wrong with proposing alternative hypotheses to explain phenomenon in the universe, and we must encourage this as much as possible for science to advance. But what must not be allowed is the assertion as dogma of anything that claims to be scientific but has never been tested through the long and slow process of peer review and subsequent examination by independent observers.

The arrogance of those who would deny the value of scientific processes, often by those who themselves have little understanding of how science works, just illustrates the incredible power of the Dunning–Kruger effect, as described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect  We must understand that such is the danger of these attitudes that they should not be tolerated for long once they are fully exposed for what they really are.

Examples of a such unscientific and pseudo-scientific dogmas are Creationism, Global Warming Denialism, AIDS Denialism, and anti-Vaccinationism. Often, these stem from legitimate problems with a procedure, such as faulty vaccinations discovered to occationally cause problems in children, and are exaggerated far beyond rational bounds and turned into an absolute (“Vaccinations should no longer be given to children at all because a few became autistic a few months after their injections!”).  We must remember that the ONLY way for anything to advance in science is by the accumulation of empirical data, and repeated testing through peer review. Nothing else will ever suffice, because no other method has ever been consistently shown to work at revealing facts.

4 thoughts on “An Explanation about Science

  1. You are conflating Dunning-Kruger with scientific questioning on topics where there are most definitely two sides to the evidence. Vaccination opposition has risen as a distrust of authority as much as anything, whereas “denying” global warming is a ridiculous description of qualified scientists who ask for -and never receive- reliable raw data on what is being claimed.

    It’s important to note that no one sane “denies” climate fluctuation. What is being denied is the succession of PR company styled buzzwordisms such as “catastrophic manmade global warming” “CO2 caused climate change” and so on. Hardly Dunning-Kruger to note the snake oil salesmen behind THEM, is it? Especially when if anything Dunning-Kruger applies much more congruently to the bureaucratic scum, talking head media luvvies and other talentless and unqualified dog and pony show purveyors who support the global warming hysteria.

    (Dale Husband: That’s a lot of loaded rhetoric, but it does not impress me. The only thing I have ever given a damn about on such issues is EVIDENCE. And both anti-vaxxers and global warming denialists have consistently failed to produce any that would conclusively support their claims, being content instead to distort the facts according to their extremist bigotry. In short you are delusional just like some people are about religion. Stop thinking like a religious or political extremist, with that “distrust of authority” crap. Science should never be based on authority alone, and indeed it is not. Rather, authority in science results from an idea becoming credible after it is repeatedly tested, not because some supreme leader says something must be true.)

    • “a ridiculous description of qualified scientists who ask for -and never receive- reliable raw data on what is being claimed.”

      You did not give any specific examples, and indeed you would have to clarify what it would mean to be “qualified”. Would you claim to be such a person? And what would you consider “reliable raw data”?

      “…applies much more congruently to the bureaucratic scum, talking head media luvvies and other talentless and unqualified dog and pony show purveyors who support the global warming hysteria.”

      Like Al Gore? Spare me those personal attacks, it is a classic fallacy. If there is evidence to debunk the greenhouse gas properties of carbon dioxide or that this gas is not produced in large amounts by the burning of fossil fuels, let’s see it. But don’t make an @$$ of yourself again like this!

  2. Pingback: Dunning–Kruger effect: survival of the loudest in corporate America | AnthroVenture

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