Kirk Durston is posting again at the DI's Evolution News and Views website. He's the guy I posted about when he tried, like so many others, to sell the idea that macro and micro evolution are different ("Micro-Macro re-dux"). He didn't say anything new, other than complain because there was no precise definition for macro-evolution . . . . which makes sense to me since it's an artificial distinction invented by scared Creationists.
Anyway, this time around Kirk is going to tell us what bad science really is and what current scientific theories he considers 'bad'. He asks the question "Should We Have Faith in Science?" I see it as a very simple question, with a very easy answer, "Yes!".
One of my issues is that he doesn't seem to be addressing Science, but Scientists. Here is a quote:
"I am increasingly appalled and even shocked at what passes for science. It has become a mix of good science, bad science, creative story-telling, science fiction, scientism (atheism dressed up as science), citation-bias, huge media announcements followed by quiet retractions, massaging the data, exaggeration for funding purposes, and outright fraud all rolled up together. In some disciplines, the problem has become so rampant that the "good science" part is drowning in a mess of everything else."Before getting into it, I do have to ask why he had to define 'scientism' this way? It's not the accepted definitioin of the term. What does atheism have to do with science anyway? Science does not address the issue of a deity and never will. But I will say Kirk had to define it this way because it's another one of those made-up relationships that the DI uses to try and convince people they are an issue. While I have never seem atheism dressed up as science, I have often seen people dress up their theology and call it science. After all, that's what Creation Science was in the past and Intelligent Design is today.
But in his post, where is Kirk's issue with Science? What he's complaining about is scientists, at least some of them. I have news for Kirk, scientists are human beings and when you look at any collective group of humans some of them mess up. Kirk, if you disagree, I would like you to remember how many issues there have been in recent years with various theists, like Swaggart, Haggard, or a large collection of priests? I guess if we want to follow Kirk's thinking we should ask why anyone has any faith in religion, right?
What's interesting about Science is that is a self-correcting activity. Think about it, science works, the explanations match the available evidence and when they can no longer do that, they get discarded. That's the concept of being self-correcting. When it doesn't work it gets kicked to the curb. The road to an accepted scientific theory is littered with ideas and explanations that failed at some point. Some of the possible reasons include Kirk's little diatribe. When scientists are guilty of anything Kirk doesn't seem to like, their ideas end up among the discarded. There is a level of actual scientific support required before ideas move forward, something ID proponents can't seem to reach.
Now a question for Kirk, who determines the viability of scientific ideas? Yes, the ideas one day may become a hypothesis and maybe reach the level of a scientific theory. Who uncovers poor methodology like Cold Fusion; hoaxes like Piltdown Man, or mis-classifications like Nebraska man? Who, Kirk, you? No! It's not people at places like the 'Discovery Institute', 'Answers in Genesis', or the poorly named 'Institute for Creation Research'. It's scientists following scientific methodology, determining the viability and validity of ideas and discovering problems. Ideas that fail to measure up fall to the wayside by scientists, not pseudo-scientists. It's how science works and how science has created so much!
OK, a brief discussion on faith. Now when I say faith, I am not talking some blind sort of faith reserved for people like . . . well . . . little kennie ham. When you look at someone like kennie, you realize that his faith absolutely blinds him to the world around him. He builds monuments to his belief set, always using other people's money. Think about it, do the majority of theists, even the majority of Christians, agree with the story kennie is busy selling down in Kentucky? Not in the least. To most, he's just someone to laugh at.
Faith in science is something that we have have had for many years. It's not blind faith, but more something called 'acceptance'. We accept the things science has accomplished for us. Science took us to the moon, science developed the theories we use in our everyday life, including the communication platform many of us are currently using. It's science that is behind the automobile, the airplane, television . . . imagine how long that list of scientific accomplishments would be if we tried to list them all. We accept the science, which was developed, lest we forget, by scientists. If you go back in history and study any of the developments we take for granted today. We will see ideas that didn't work out, we will often see some examples of the very things Kirk is complaining about. Like I said, we accept science, not everything that occurs along the way, but we do end up accepting it . . . because it works!
Science isn't perfect, scientists aren't perfect, but the bottom line is simple. We accept what works! Now Kirk's little post was really a preview. He's next going to start telling us all the problems with various scientific theories. I wonder which one he'll start with first. You can probably guess which one I think he'll start. I wonder how long it will take him to bring up Piltdown Man?
Since Kirk is going to come down on science, maybe he can shed some light on what creationism has ever really accomplished? Aside from holding back science for centuries, pandering to people's fears, and trying to ruin science education. What advances can you place at creationism's feet? Nothing comes to mind to me, maybe Kirk has some better ideas of the incredible accomplishments of creationism. I know some folks like to point to famous people who believed in one deity or another in the past who put forth some amazing science. But what part of their science is based on their religious beliefs? What part of any theory is 'and here is where God did his magic'? None that I can find.
So, yes we do have and should have faith in science, but unlike the absolutism of theology, we accept the things that work and ask scientists to keep working on the things that don't measure up. It's their work that will eventually pan out to workable and useful ideas, or toss ideas by the wayside. When scientists are guilty of the sins Kirk here lists, then they should be held accountable by science! Anyone remember Hwang Woo-suk? He got busted after a series of fabricated experiments dealing with cloning. Have you heard about him lately? I didn't think so!
Not all discredited scientists fade so quickly, take the case of Andrew Wakefield, he was the one whose fraudulent work started the anti-vaccination movement. Science dealt with him, but non-scientists who seem to be looking for someone or something to blame autism on have kept his foolish ideas alive -- much to the detriment on children suffering from easily preventable diseases. But again, science has been dealing with such issues long before Kirk dreamed up his little whine.
It's not people like Kirk who will be uncovering bad science, but other scientists. When they do, action gets taken. Can Kirk say the same of his religious brethren? How many years did pedophile priests get away with their activity? And who is the blame for that? Not scientists!