Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » September 2005 » Re-Writing Those Rules for Science...

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09/10/2005: Re-Writing Those Rules for Science...

TPMCafe was hosting Rep Rush Holt (Research scientist and a member of the House Education Committee), who wrote this piece on teaching I.D.:

“I was appalled when President Bush signaled his support for the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside evolution in public K-12 science classes. Though I respect and consistently protect the rights of persons of faith and the curricula of religious schools, public school science classes are not the place to teach concepts that cannot be backed up by evidence and tested experimentally.

Science, by definition, is a method of learning about the physical universe by asking questions in a way that they can be answered empirically and verifiably. If a question cannot be framed so that the answer is testable by looking at physical evidence and by allowing other people to repeat and replicate one's test, then it is not science. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study. Intelligent design offers no way to investigate design scientifically. Intelligent design explains complicated phenomena of the natural world by involving a designer. This way of thinking says things behave the way they do because God makes them behave that way. This treads not into science but into the realm of faith. A prominent physicist, W. Pauli, used to say about such a theory "It is not even wrong". There is no testable hypothesis or prediction for Intelligent Design.

Colloquially, a theory is an idea. Scientifically, a theory is an accepted synthesis of a large body of knowledge, consisting of well-tested hypotheses, laws, and scientific facts, which concurrently describe and connect natural phenomena. There are actually very few theories in science, including atomic theory, the theory of gravity, the theory of evolution, and the theory of the standard model of particle physics. Without the ability to test the hypotheses of Intelligent Design, it cannot be considered a theory in the scientific sense…”

But that IS the Point. These I.D. and Creationism Folks want to rewrite the definition of “SCIENCE” altogether and the rules for such inquiry, testing, falsifiability, etc..

And the insanity is that apparently some percentage of the US population thinks these criteria are *acceptable* for scientific study or fails to understand the gravity of the issue at hand in suggesting that this be taught in public schools in the science classroom. (Not a philosophy class where it *might* be an appropriate discussion.)

And as Rep. Holt points out:

"So who cares? What difference does it make if schools spend time on unscientific ideas? This raises the role of science education in the United States. A scientifically literate nation would not permit Intelligent Design to be presented and treated as a scientific theory. Science education is necessary for all students, especially for those who are not going to become professional scientists. We must not lose the important American characteristic - hard, practical thinking…

And click on the “more” button” for yet some additional Vitriolic Double Standards.

So, when you follow the stringent requirement of scientific inquiry and Peer Review processes – the Religious Righties GO nuts trying to insinuate politics into the background.
“A research article about when fetuses feel pain is sparking a heated debate over the nexus between science and politics and what information authors should disclose to scientific journals.

"The standard for disclosure in medical and scientific journals is not your politics. There's no obligation to tell people what your mind-set is ... as long as the data is sound and gathered objectively," said Dr. Alan Leff, a University of Chicago pulmonologist and editor of the Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society.
Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, the journal's editor-in-chief, said she wasn't concerned by Drey's failure to indicate she performed abortions. "That's part of [an obstetrician's] scope of practice. They don't have to reveal that."
A Roman Catholic who opposes abortion, DeAngelis said she has been swamped this week with critical e-mails about the fetal-pain study from "people with no medical background, no science background, religious fanatics, people who are mean-spirited." She stressed that the report was reviewed by several outside experts and thoroughly examined by her own staff.

"It is a peer-reviewed article," DeAngelis said. "They are not reporting their own findings. It's a review article based on what's in the literature. ... The references are there. Anybody who doubts the veracity can go to the original article and say they misinterpreted it."

That is the way science is supposed to work, said Arthur Caplan, chair of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

"As a scientist, if you think I'm wrong, you probe my data, question my findings and do a critical study--not point your finger and talk about my politics," Caplan said.”

Conversely, when all you have is Political Connections, lacking even the basics of following the stringent requirement of scientific inquiry and Peer Review processes -- the Religious Righties whine “FOUL” about the *politics* as the background, not the facts of the criticism.

Over at EvolutionBlog there is great piece about O'Reilly Just Keeps Topping Himself:

About the supposed “intellectual harassment of Richard Steinberg (Federal Scientist & Editor):
”…However, a number of outside groups and individuals began writing e- mails, letters of protests, phoning the museum, phoning my employer, demanding my ouster for this. Apparently, there was an unstated rule that you do not accept a manuscript for per {sic} review that counters Darwinism, or seriously counters Darwinism.

And furthermore, I was a gatekeeper. I allowed the paper to be peer reviewed and furthermore, I committed the terribly sin of allowing it to be published.

And so the retaliation that followed took the form of the spreading of misinformation, such that, you know, my degrees were in religion and philosophy, not in science, that there was actually no per {sic} review, that I had accepted money under the table. That I...

the retaliation occurred in concert. It was between the officials of the Smithsonian Institution, curators, various administrators and the National Center for Science and Education, based in Oakland, California.

They — they orchestrated, for example, at least the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) orchestrated a repudiation of the article, actually helped the repudiation to be drafted. That is a statement of retraction. And then turned around and cited it on their web site as evidence, not so much evidence, but allowed them to strongly insinuate editorial malfeasance on my part.

They aided in drafting, for example, a statement by the council that oversees publication of the journal to suggest that somehow I had broken the rules…”

Karen on 09.10.05 @ 01:23 PM CST

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