Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ideologically Driven "Science"

The recent revelation of the e-mails between top global warming scientists revealing their suppression and manipulation of data that would challenge the theory of human-caused global warming (click here) has, I think, deeper implications for the scientific community. The scandal brings to light the dirty little secret of "peer-reviewed" science. This method, which so many hold up as the infallible means of discovering truth, has been shown to be susceptible to deception and manipulation. But how!? With scientists reviewing and scrutinizing each others work, there should be no way false conclusions would go unchecked. However, as we see here, ideologies can become so ensconced within the scientific community that they can become a kind of sacred cow, and questioning them makes the skeptic of the "mainstream" scientific conclusion a knuckle dragging doofus. How dare we question the scientific consensus?

When a theory becomes the foregone conclusion among scientists that something is the way they say it is, data can be manipulated, cherry-picked, and misinterpreted (purposely or otherwise) to arrive at the scientist's presupposition. For example, in one case scientists purposely selected three trees that supported their presupposition out of a group of many others.1 This ensured that the data they presented would lead to the conclusion they wanted, and their peers missed or ignored it.

I think you can see the parallels within other areas of science, such as biology, that have accepted a specific explanations and will castigate anyone who questions the status quo. This is evident in the vitriol aimed at those who would promote Intelligent Design as an alternative to neo-Darwinism.

Why does the scientific community become so committed to certain positions? I have a few speculations:
  1. Monetary: The scientists who follow the status quo are the ones who get the grant money. It becomes essential to their livelihood to support the "consensus".
  2. Political: There are those who want to advance a political ideology, and scientific conclusions sometimes fuel political decisions that lead to more government control.
  3. Theological: Some scientists and philosophers are so committed to the belief that there is no God, that they will do anything to advance that idea and bring others into the same line of thought
I think those behind these scams are anything but scientists. They are nothing but ideologues who are more interested in their own interests than in truth. The media is ignoring it because they don't want to threaten what they believe, but they should be out hounding the people who have propagated these lies. I hope this wakes people up and causes them to question these scientists rather than just accepting everything they say because they have the label scientist.

1 Andrew Orlowski, Treemometers: A new scientific scandal, If a peer review fails in the woods..., http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/29/yamal_scandal/

6 comments:

ExPatMatt said...

Boss,


How's it going? Good Thanksgiving?

I note that you missed a potential speculation to add to the three you presented;

4. Scientific: The current, accumulated lines of evidence point to the stated position being the most accurate description of the particular natural phenomena in question

That would be a pretty good reason to hold to a specific position on a scientific issue, wouldn't it?

Also, what climatologists discuss in their internal emails has no bearing on what the data in other fields of scientific study has to say.

Or should we reject the teachings of Islamic clerics because Kent Hovind is a tax dodger?

(PS. we should reject the teachings of Islamic clerics, but not for that reason!)

bossmanham said...

ExPat,

How's it going? Good Thanksgiving?

Yeah, thanks for asking. I hope yours was as well.

I note that you missed a potential speculation to add to the three you presented;

But this is one of my points. I do not believe that evidence justifies belief in Common Descent. The facts that supposedly support it are just as easily supportive of a competing explanation.

It all comes back to the philosophical presuppositions one has, not the evidence. The evidence doesn't go that far.

Also, what climatologists discuss in their internal emails has no bearing on what the data in other fields of scientific study has to say.

It does say something about the scientific community as a whole, however. The hiding and ignoring of data, even in peer reviewed journals, can extend to all fields of science and therefore give justification to questioning the purported conclusions.

Or should we reject the teachings of Islamic clerics because Kent Hovind is a tax dodger?

This isn't even the same thing, because Kent Hovind and Islamic clerics use completely different methods of coming to conclusions. Scientists all use the peer review system.

we should reject the teachings of Islamic clerics, but not for that reason

I agree.

ExPatMatt said...

Boss,

"But this is one of my points. I do not believe that evidence justifies belief in Common Descent".

That's fair enough. You're quite free not to believe it. However, the vast majority of the experts in the field do accept it. I know that appealing to the majority is a logical fallacy, but when that many experts, from so many different backgrounds all agree on a concept, then the likelihood of that concept being correct has to be considered to be quite high, right?

"The facts that supposedly support it are just as easily supportive of a competing explanation".

Such as?

"Or should we reject the teachings of Islamic clerics because Kent Hovind is a tax dodger?".

"This isn't even the same thing, because Kent Hovind and Islamic clerics use completely different methods of coming to conclusions. Scientists all use the peer review system".

I was under the impression that both Kent and the cleric drew their conclusions based on their respective faith-based interpretation of their holy books.

Castigating all scientists for using the scientific method is no different to castigating all religious people for using faith-driven 'discernment' when interpreting their holy texts, is it?

Cheers,

bossmanham said...

However, the vast majority of the experts in the field do accept it.

That's their prerogative. But since "[o]nly 10 percent of NAS scientists believed in God or immortality, with those figures dropping to 5 percent among biologists," (http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/25430833/Evolution-Religion-and-Free-Will) that would seem to support my 3rd speculation; that it is a philosophical presupposition that fuels the conclusions reached, not the evidence.

Such as?

Intelligent design.

I was under the impression that both Kent and the cleric drew their conclusions based on their respective faith-based interpretation of their holy books

Yes, one being the Bible, the other the Koran.

Castigating all scientists for using the scientific method is no different to castigating all religious people for using faith-driven 'discernment' when interpreting their holy texts, is it?

My intention was not to castigate all scientists or even the peer reviewing method, but to show that it is also susceptible to manipulation and misinterpretation.

God bless

ExPatMatt said...

Boss,

"That's their prerogative. But since "[o]nly 10 percent of NAS scientists believed in God or immortality, with those figures dropping to 5 percent among biologists," (LINK) that would seem to support my 3rd speculation; that it is a philosophical presupposition that fuels the conclusions reached, not the evidence".

That's pretty interesting. However, from the same link;

"Viewing religion as an evolved sociobiological feature removes all competition between evolution and religion for most respondents".

So if there's no competition, there's no need to allow philosophical presuppositions to trump evidence, is there?

"Intelligent design".

Does ID provide any more of an explanation than 'Goddidit'? DOes it, for example, tell us how the designer produced the designs? Does it provide any measure of predictive power? IN short, is it useful?

"susceptible to manipulation and misinterpretation".

The point of the peer-review process is to remove as much room for either as possible. Of course it's not perfect, but it does a pretty good job, all things considered.

Cheers,

bossmanham said...

So if there's no competition, there's no need to allow philosophical presuppositions to trump evidence, is there?

It's not about any competiton between science and religion, it's about philosophical presuppositions fueling conclusions. Their presupposition of naturalism causes them to think that religion is nothing more than an evolutionary construct. On the other hand, Christian theists insist that it is God who revealed Himself to man. God created us, we didn't create Him. So even in that quote it is evident that philosophical presuppositions fuel these conclusions, not evidence.

Does ID provide any more of an explanation than 'Goddidit'?

There is debate within the ID movement as to how God did it. Some hold to YEC, some to Progressive creationism, and some to theistic evolution. But they all agree that the evidence is against the process being entirely naturalistic.

DOes it, for example, tell us how the designer produced the designs

That's irrelevant to ID. The movement postulates that there is a designer. You don't have to know how the designer did it or even who the designer is to identify the presence of a designer. How and who the designer is is discovered by further study.

The point of the peer-review process is to remove as much room for either as possible

Yes, that is the point.

Of course it's not perfect, but it does a pretty good job, all things considered.

Until the issues I stated enter the equation.