Skewed Views of Science

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h9XntsSEro]

HT: James McGrath at Exploring Our Matrix.

5 Comments

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5 Responses to Skewed Views of Science

  1. Thank you, Mike. I must have missed this over at James’s site (which one must read several times a day to keep up with!!) So I am grateful for your repost.

  2. Michael

    Mike, I’ve enjoyed perusing your sight, and have watched this video a couple of times now. The clever graphics do much to lift an argument that is less impressive than the creator’s video producing skills.

    The video makes waves about preemptive rejection of scientific theories, but incorrectly assumes that any and all opposition to evolutionary theory must be made from a position of ignorance. This in itself is a preemptive rejection of all who disagree with evolutionary theory. It would seem that in any field there comes a point where we must wed ourselves to a position until death do part, but insofar as we find ourselves wed to different partners, we shouldn’t assume that everyone else’s marriage is a thoughtless union and then chide them for their fidelity. Are scientists the only one’s who think, and therefore the only ones justified in their dogma?

    This video promotes the idea that religion is an emotional bias affecting ones ability to deal with facts because facts somehow destroy cherished beliefs or because one fears the consequences accepting such facts might bring. Here we see 2 tired old lines of thinking: (1) religion and science are incompatible and (2) any opposition to evolution must be because of a hidden religious bias (which has already been deemed an ignorant position)

    Most telling was the graphic depicting a machine that compares “Understanding of theory” with “Prejudices/objections.” When “serious study” is fed into the machine, the understanding meter moves from “poor” to “good” while the prejudices/objections meter moves from “many” to “none.” What groupthink! The narrator goes on to say that if you’re not engaged in study, you’re not serious about your position. Given just that statement, I could whole-heartedly agree. However, “serious study” is tantamount to “questionless compliance” in this situation.

    But my 2 favorite graphics are in the latter half of this presentation. One depicts Adam, Eve, and a serpent around a tree as the narrator speaks of the guilt and fearmongers who seek to keep everyone in intellectual darkness. Why is it that every attack on evolution must come from the religious fanatic? The second graphic depicts a man in a room with locked doors and walls that are ever encroaching upon him. This represents the “restricted and unchanging zone of comprehension” of those who censure what the speaker calls “aspects of reality you’re unwilling or unable to deal with.” Is it not the major players of the scientific community today who keep the doors shut to alternative views? Are they not the ones refusing to address reality on any plane other than scientific materialism?

    I couldn’t believe the statement I heard toward the end of the video: “You can’t pick and choose with science.” Picking and choosing is exactly what science is about (this is especially funny given that the word intelligence has roots meaning “to choose between”)! Science is not an all or none game. It is an absurd notion that the same scientific endeavor that gives us evolutionary theory is the same scientific endeavor that launches Voyager missions to Neptune. Despite what the graphic would have one believe, not everything in science’s cart is a good apple. It is not the case now, nor has it ever been the case historically.

    Frustrating… this video represent an elitism that I fear is rife in scientific circles today.

  3. Michael,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. And many apologies for my tardy reply.

    It would seem that in any field there comes a point where we must wed ourselves to a position until death do part

    This is true. And I believe that the study of the process by which biological changes occur over time has reached that "tipping point." This is not to say that we fully understand the mechanisms by which evolutionary change occurs, but that we recognize the overarching process within which those mechanisms work.

    Are scientists the only one’s who think, and therefore the only ones justified in their dogma?

    Generally speaking, scientists (defined as those who are actually observing certain processes in action, examining evidence of their action in the past, and/or make future predictions based on the study of those processes) are the only one's qualified to hold a particular dogma regarding those processes.

    Here we see 2 tired old lines of thinking: (1) religion and science are incompatible

    In some cases, this is true. Young-earth creationism, for example. In an evolutionary creationist paradigm, they are complimentary. But I certainly don't endorse everything this video claims.

    and (2) any opposition to evolution must be because of a hidden religious bias

    Again, in most cases, this is true. I know of very few objectors to evolutionary theory who are not members of the three great monotheistic religions. that group is extremely small.

    When “serious study” is fed into the machine, the understanding meter moves from “poor” to “good” while the prejudices/objections meter moves from “many” to “none.” What groupthink!

    I have to agree with you on this one. But notice that the needle never pegged to "none." 😉

    On to part 2 of my response (thanks to comment size limitations) …

  4. Part 2 …

    The narrator goes on to say that if you’re not engaged in study, you’re not serious about your position.

    At the risk of judging myself, I have to agree with this (as do you, to an extent). I see this phenomena in all areas of society, from religion to economics to politics. If one doesn't take the time to understand a particular issue to an extent wherein the individual can make a well-informed decision, then he or she must claim ignorance and has no right to be dogmatic about his or her position. There is much in life of which I'm ignorant, and I will readily admit this. In those areas in which I have great interest, of course, I take the time to correct those knowledge deficiencies. Those who scream, "Dogma!", yet have no basis for holding that position delude themselves into believing themselves to have made a well-informed decision … even if that position is correct! Believing something to be true for the right reasons is always to be preferred over those who believe something to be true yet have no idea why it is so.

    Why is it that every attack on evolution must come from the religious fanatic?

    Stereotypes exist for obvious reasons. In this case, a vast majority of attacks against evolution do come from religious individuals who feel that the evolution violates the very foundation of their religious beliefs. Is this not so?

    The second graphic depicts a man in a room with locked doors and walls that are ever encroaching upon him. This represents the “restricted and unchanging zone of comprehension” of those who censure what the speaker calls “aspects of reality you’re unwilling or unable to deal with.” Is it not the major players of the scientific community today who keep the doors shut to alternative views? Are they not the ones refusing to address reality on any plane other than scientific materialism?

    I fully understand your concerns here. But what alternative views (that can be scientifically examined) are there for evolution? At what point do we close the door on alternative views? At what point do we stop considering Intelligent Falling in favor of the Theory of Gravity? At what point do we stop considering a flat Earth (described quite often in the Bible) in favor of a spherical Earth?

    I couldn’t believe the statement I heard toward the end of the video: “You can’t pick and choose with science.”

    Yeah, that one struck me as a little "over the top" as well. I suspect the creator of the video meant that you can't pick and choose facts.

    Again, thanks for your comments. (I truly hope to respond much quicker the next time around. 1 down, 63 to go …)

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