“Overselling Science” at Chicago Boyz

Shannon Love has an interesting post entitled “Overselling Science” over at Chicago Boyz. I suspect her history may be a little shaky, but she makes some good points. Excerpts:

The problem with polling “scientists” is that there is a wide divergence in the predictive power of different fields of study that we lump together as “science”.

“Scientists” definitely come in a wide assortment of shapes, sizes, and credibilities. There’s nothing magical about “science.” It’s just a way of getting at the truth. The term “scientific” has been so oversold it’s almost meaningless. Think “scientific Marxism/Leninism.”

Non-predictive sciences are highly vulnerable to social and political fads and scientists often get swept up in them. For example, a hundred years ago you would have found a wider agreement on the validity of eugenics than we see today on global warming.

I’ll buy the comment about social and political fads. Environmental scientists are having a particularly tough time of it these days. It doesn’t help their credibility when they shoot themselves in the foot, as they did when Bjorn Lomborg published the “Skeptical Environmentalist.” It would certainly be a travesty to call the abject creatures who sat on the so-called Danish Committee of Scientific Dishonesty, a kangaroo court of politically motivated hacks who smeared Lomborg and declared his book “dishonest,” by any name as honorable as “scientist.”

However, I doubt that there was ever such “wide agreement” on eugenics. It just wasn’t politically incorrect to discuss it before the Third Reich. Intellectual heavyweights spoke out on both sides of the issue, and there was no lack of them on the “con” as well as the “pro” side. Maybe one of these days I’ll post some examples.

Imperial German militarism, Marxism, communism, fascism, eugenics, etc. were all based on this flawed model (orthogenesis) of evolution which the vast majority of scientists of the day nevertheless pushed onto the public as settled science.

Hmm, I thought they were all invented by Sarah Palin.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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