Promoted from the diaries by Neil
Believe it or not, Salon.com has given a conservative the opportunity to fill their space. This weeks question in "Ask a Wingnut" gets to an important topic, one with implications far beyond the scope of the actual words.
On the face of it, the Wingnut author does a good job answering the question: the Conservative record on science is well established. Conservatives most definitely aren't anti-science.
The article doesn't address (it's not the point of the article) the more important issue, which is the liberal tactic of marginalizing anyone who doesn't agree with their perspective (just look at the tone of the question... anti-ALL science, or just anti-BAD science?). The issues raised in the article (stem-cell research and global warming) seem to be at the crux of the anti-science slander from the left. I don't want to deal with the science, there are others better equipped to do that. What interests me is how the left doesn't seem to be willing to even admit that there is another side or any competing science. That's what distinguishes the right from the left.
Let's use Intelligent Design (of which I am a proponent) as an illustration of how the left marginalizes the right by looking at a (somewhat) non-political (read: non-governmental/Washington D.C. issue) .
- I believe the world was created by an Intelligent Being, and I don't believe Darwin (or any other amalgum of scientific theorists) offer as reasonable and scientifically proveable explanation of how the world is.
- I accept that there is a theory of evolution, and that smart, intelligent, educated, honest scientists in the world ascribe to this theory.
- I will also concede that Intelligent Design is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory (an assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture). It has not been observed as a complete process (i.e. we weren't there at creation) so it can not be verified as an observed fact.
I don't have any problem with my children being taught evolution in schools, because school should be the place where children learn to wrestle with ideas. I don't, however, hear the left clamoring for the free exchange of ideas. The very foundation of true science is being open to question your hypothesis. As soon as you stop questioning, or limit the scope of your questions, you stop being a scientist and start being a dogmatist.
To illustrate the point of the differences, I will use today's edition of the Cal State Long Beach's Daily 49er, which just so happens to have an article entitled "Intelligent Design Isn't Smart." A few quotes and some thoughts. First, in paragraph 2:
Intelligent Design attempts to reconcile science with the Biblical creation myths by hypothesizing that each species appeared abruptly with its distinct characteristics.
The language is loaded. The stories in the Bible are "myths" and stand in opposition to science. Intelligent Design is the attempt to reconcile these two opposing entities (science & myth). If you would debate this article, you would not simply be arguing the merits of the evidence, you would be put in the position of having to debate "science" with "myth," and you're not saying myth can speak to science are you? Next, paragraph 3:
The court ruled that the school board violated students’ rights by introducing a religious doctrine into a public school. The U.S. Constitution forbids the government from promoting or prohibiting any religion.
The issue here isn't with the article, but illustrates the left's general position to opposing information. The implication is that the proposition of Intelligent Design is synonymous with religion. My question would be, "what is religion, & what qualifies as religious doctrine?" I contend that evolutionists are as zealous about their religion as creationists, only far more subversive about it. Now to paragraph 4:
I was struck by the passion with which the Evangelical Christians argued that kids should also be taught Intelligent Design as an alternative. They emphasized that evolution was only a theory.
What's the problem with advocating alternative theories in science class? Intelligent Design proponents weren't advocating that Evolution be thrown out of the classroom, only that it be taught in its true scientific context, as a widely held belief with scientifically legitimate alternatives. The I.D.'ers here are reduced to an easily marginalized stereotype (passionate Evangelical Christians). Did the author interview every opponent to discover their religious or philosophical belief's? Is there any chance that an impartial, unbiased scientists would allow room for Intelligent Design?
Scientific theories are not purely speculative, however. Evolution, like the theory of gravitation or the germ theory of disease, is supported by an enormous body of evidence that has withstood repeated testing. Darwin’s theory is foundational to the biological sciences, which would otherwise be incoherent.
His logic breaks down. Just because it is supported by an enormous body of evidence, doesn't mean it's not speculative. The implication here is that there is absolutely no evidence what so ever for intelligent design. Also, simply because it's the foundation of the current biological sciences doesn't make it true. The science of medicine was based on a faulty premise before germ theory. Does that make germ theory was false, only does it mean the whole system was previously built on a faulty assumption? This paragraph works great to marginalize the opposition, but it doesn't do much at all to further the conversation.
So far the author has lumped ID'ers into passionate zealot Evangelicals without a shred or hint of scientific evidence. Is that the case? Has every ID proponent in the world checked their brain at the door? Are only Evolutionists the ones with intellectual rigor and integrity? The next paragraph state (you've noticed so far that every paragraph is represented, right?)
Kenneth Miller of Brown University said, “Not a single observation, not a single experimental result, has ever emerged in 150 years that contradicts the general outlines of the theory of evolution. Any theory that can stand up to 150 years of contentious testing is a pretty darn good theory.”
WOW! There is absolutely no scientific foundation for anything other that Evolution in the world? There's absolutely no problem what so ever with Evolution? Every single scientific data for 150 years has supported the theory? Some people would take exception with Mr. Miller's proposition. The next paragraph reads:
Many Evangelicals also believe there is an ongoing debate in the scientific community on evolution versus Intelligent Design, but this is not the case. Intelligent Design is overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community, so much so that the defense in this case had a hard time finding scientists to testify.
Again, it must be an open and shut case, then. Thre is absolutely no debate in the scientific community about this. There wasn't even a creation scientist to be found. This goes back to the same problems with the above quote.
The rest of the article continues in the same vein. I picked this article, because it was written today (it's recent), it showed up at the top of a google search (it's accessible), and and it's written at a University (it's "intellectually credible").
The point is that it's exactly what the left claims the right is. When the left wants to make head way in a debate (about the climate, stem cells, enhanced interrogation) they follow the same path:
- Create or employ a stereotype/straw man (it's best if it can be linked Evangelicals, the most on the edge of the sanity continuum demographic in the country to be sure)
- Ensure the populus that no right thinking person in the world holds an opposing view to intimidate you by not wanting you to feel uneducated or uninformed
- Assure you that all the evidence everywhere in the world supports their claim (often without presenting any of it themselves)
- resort to name calling
I appreciate Salon.com for running this article and allowing the silliness and small mindedness to be on display. I also appreciate wingnut for taking the issue head on. A few great questions when faced with leftist bullying:
- "What evidence do you have?" Ask them to get specific.
- "Why should I accept your proposition, hypothesis, or evidence?" Why is your proposition or hypothesis better than mine?
- "Who says?" Who supports your theory, and why are they credible? "Everyone" is not a logically acceptable answer to this question.
I have often been made to feel that I have to be on the defensive. I don't mind defending my hypotheses, because I think they are defensible. It's time to stand in the face of this nonsense. Don't employ the same tactics they use, don't run from the debate, just don't let them define the terms and conditions if they're not acceptable. That's science... honest, unbiased conversation based on the information at hand, and that's what liberals seem to have a hard time dealing with.
Crossposted with updates at realityunwound