Eighth Deadly Sin: Denying Science

Science is a cold-hearted bitch, isn’t she? She doesn’t care about our sense of political correctness or our convenience. She doesn’t care about our religions or our cultures. The electron dances around the nucleus irrespective of what the mullah says, the bible commands, or the culture demands.

Tell a mutating DNA that you don’t believe in evolution, and see if it gives a fraction of a fuck. Nature is so selfish, so inconsiderate of our desires, necessities and beliefs. And that’s why science, a quest to find out how nature works, is every bit as ruthless.

We have deluded ourselves with an idea that science is simply an opinion, that can be embraced or rejected based on our own convenience. Evolution not compatible with your faith? Deny evolution. It would be too costly or inconvenient to slow down human-induced climate change? Deny climate-change.

Here are a few questions and concerns I regularly get to hear from our cardinal sinners:


Questioning the scientific experts makes me a free-thinker.

Yes, if “free-thinker” is the Oxford dictionary’s newly approved synonym for “ignorant moron“.

If you’re ever having a minor surgery, say vasectomy under local anaesthesia, you don’t question the doctor’s procedure. “No, no, doc! Cut deeper into the root of my penis. Oh, I don’t believe in anaesthetics. I think that incision needs to be a few inches wider. No need for stitches, I’ll just glue it up when I get back home.”

For the sake of your own genitalia, you remain silent and admit that you, as a non-doctor, are not as skilled or knowledgeable as the doctor who spent many years studying the human anatomy, and performing these  procedures. The only exception where you may challenge and debate this medical expert, is if you’re a doctor yourself and have the same kind of knowledge and experience as he does.

You think scientists are wrong about evolution, global warming, female orgasm, butter or any of the other things you believe aren’t real? Fine. Get a degree in that field of science, procure evidence to support your hypothesis, publish a paper, get it peer reviewed, and once your findings have been confirmed, earn the right to say: “Evolution/Global warming isn’t real!”.

.

So what if I don’t believe in evolution? Why does it bother you?

What bothers me is this silly idea that you’ve latched on to, that your belief is just as worthy as my scientific evidence. That it’s okay to deny scientific information if it’s not appealing to us.

Evolution is the glue that holds all of biology together. What connects microbiology to zoology, and zoology to anthropology. Without it, it all scatters into discrete packets of information. To put it simply, evolution is to biology what gravity is to physics. If you think denying gravity is stupid and worth making fun of, then you understand why denying evolution is stupid and worth making fun of.

.

Why trust science? It keeps changing everyday!

It’s not a weakness that science is consistently refining and updating itself.

Do you deny Earth’s rounded shape because “science changes everyday?” Why not? Have you seen the planet from space yourself? Maybe the physicists are all wrong. Heck, they’ve been wrong before about the Earth’s shape, haven’t they?

Actually, science does not jump randomly from one theory to another. It becomes progressively more accurate with time. For instance, scientists first believed that the Earth was flat, then they said it was perfectly spherical, and finally arrived on the correct oblate spheroid model. Both the flat Earth and spherical Earth theories were false, but not equally so. The spherical earth theory was much more accurate than the flat earth theory. So the scientists did lead the public closer to the truth with it, if not exactly to the truth.

It is possible that with future data, scientists may change their position about the finer details concerning evolution and climate change, just like the original Newtonian dynamics were replaced by Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) by Milgrom. But if you’re hanging on to the hope that these theories themselves will disappear in the future, that’s as likely as the physicists realizing that gravity doesn’t really exist. If you’re rational, you wouldn’t bet on it.

Advertisements
    • F.
    • April 9th, 2012

    Bravo! Beautifully written, with just the right amount of snarkiness.

    • Rashid Malik
    • April 11th, 2012

    I have been doing the battle in defense of science on Facebook and elsewhere for quiet some time now and most of that recently amongst the free-thinking community. It’s a pity that science even needs a defense. Anyway, I accidentally came across your article on Facebook and felt that what I have been trying to do, you have expressed so elegantly and so well. An effort worthy of praise. Thanks for your courage to speak on behalf of the something that means so much to a lot of us!

    • Alan
    • April 11th, 2012

    True science doesn’t deny the existence of unknown forces when effects are apparent. The new ‘religion’ of science denies what it sees as a threat. Faith in science is needed, since we must believe the records and results that are reported by men. Men with their own prejudices and agendas. How often have we been victims of scientific fraud or manipulation? To trust fully in scientists is as naive to trust in religonists.
    So to blindly hail what passes for science as the be all and end all of human wisdom is unwise. Excuse me now please… I need to take my mercury dose today then have some bloodletting done by the doctor. Later I’ll be painting a new image of Plitdown man.

    • Alan,
      The scientific community is not an imperial council simply commanding us what to believe and what not to. Their statements have to be based on observable, measurable and verifiable data.

      When scientists make false claims out of prejudice or to serve their personal agendas, they are immediately shot down by a global network of peers because these claims do not have evidence to back them.

      One cannot possibly claim that 97% of the world’s scientists who claim that global warming is true, are all “prejudiced”, and are all together in a conspiracy to undermine the truth! That would be illogical and utterly paranoid.

      What you’re thinking is scientism, which is a bit different.

    • Big Rizvi
    • April 12th, 2012

    The article-awesome! The picture-classic! The little hint of humor topped with a bit of foul language-priceless!

    • Khawaja
    • May 17th, 2012

    What I read in this article really amazes me. What amazes me more is the fact that, between taking your pet rock for a walk and polishing his toilet seat collection, you actually found the time to write this tirade. It would’ve been wise for you to actually spend some time researching on the topics he’s mentioned before hastily jotting down this dribble.

    Here are just a few examples of your flawed concepts of the world of science. You haughtily claim that gravity is a fact, whereas it is definitely not one. It is, in fact, just a mere theory. And according to some, not even a very good one.

    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p67.htm

    Moving on to another point you raised. You claim that the spherical earth theory was “superior” to the flat earth theory. A few of my well-educated comrades would disagree with you, bringing forth glaring evidence disproving gravity and the “fact” that the Earth is round. Go ahead, go to their forums and see if you can convince them that the plant isn’t indeed flat.

    http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/

    And lastly, you claim, though not explicitly, that global warming is indeed, fact. Please, I implore you to research. A quick 5 minute search yielded this website, that might have some problems with it which I do not know since I am not, and never claimed to be an expert. Notice how they quote links in order to back up their claims.

    http://www.newsmax.com/MarcMorano/Evidence-Global-Warming-Theory/2011/10/24/id/415507

    I noticed something whilst reading the comments section. You told Alan that “97% of the world’s scientists… claim that global warming is true…” I hope it wouldn’t be too much trouble to link the study which showed that 97% of the planet’s scientists agree conclusively on global warming. Over and above that, explain to me how 97% of the scientists in this world, though they have taken specializations in different areas, are able to comment on global warming without raising a few eyebrows. Unlike you, the rest of us do not take our weather report from palaeontologists.

    This article screams of fascist scientism. You seem to be confused. We aren’t living in the Modern era any more, we’ve moved on to the Postmodern era. The more you actually study science, the more you realise how less you actually know, and how everything and anything might just be false; a mere social construct. Don’t be too quick to snub off “free-thinkers.” Some exceptionally intelligent individuals have been free thinkers. Look up George Carlin.

    • All I can honestly say to that is “lolwut”. But I’ll humor you anyway.

      The point of the article is not the the scientists are infallible. It’s that they are at the forefront of the knowledge corresponding to that field, which means they’re less likely to be wrong than those who do not posses the same amount of knowledge.

      For instance, a doctor is more likely to accurately diagnose your condition than your dry-cleaner. There’s a possibility that the doctor could be wrong, but you would still trust his word more than that of your dry-cleaner. If you understand the reason for this trust, you have understood the importance of a scientist’s word relative to that of a non-scientist.

      The spherical earth theory, albeit incorrect, was indeed more accurate than the flat earth theory, This is not a debate, so I won’t bother with it.

      97% of the scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change:
      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/06/scientists-overwhelmingly-believe-in-man-made-climate-change/1

      (the link to the actual study can be found in the article)

      Also, it’s not science that is fascistic, but rather nature which is so. Scientists merely report on how nature works. To fear that scientists would deliberately mislead us by giving false information, is quite irrational. As I said to another commenter, a scientist’s word isn’t a commandment of his own making…it needs to be backed by evidence. If one scientific organization manipulates data to make a false claim, another organization in another part of the world would rubbish the claim by pointing out the lack of evidence. Your idea of science as a papacy simply telling us what to believe and what not to, depicts a fundamental flaw in your understanding of how the global network of scientists works.

      Scientism is rather different. I suggest you look into that. Simply accepting scientific facts isn’t the same as scientism. It’s perfectly valid to question the scientific position, but this position has to be countered with data…not mere opinions and unsubstantiated hypotheses.

        • Khawaja
        • May 17th, 2012

        Clearly you have missed the point I was trying to put across. As you yourself have admitted, science is indeed not infallible. You cannot exactly expect the average person to have in-depth knowledge of a field of science. They do, however, have a right to question those scientists that bring forth new theories, irrespective of their beliefs and reasons.

        You constantly keep giving the example of how one would trust a doctor more than a dry cleaner. I’d honestly trust the dry cleaner as much as I’d trust the doctor, since I, as well as other people in my family, have been advised to undergo operations and such which would have otherwise exasperated the condition, might even have lead to death in a case. What I would do instead is get a second, third or even fourth opinion. If you’ve ever done that, you’d see the stark difference in some doctors’ diagnoses. Who is to say which one is right or wrong? Do I not have a right to question what the doctors are saying? What is the reason doctors try to explain their diagnosis to the a person, who it’s assumed knows barely enough to competently say where food goes in and where it comes out from? So no, I would never take the doctor’s word for it, even if he gives me an explanation which not only makes the most sense, but even matches my thoughts on the subject. In the end though, I’d still go through with it since I have no other choice.

        Again, you have flat out rejected the flat Earth theory. As said before, the people of the flat Earth society are actually educated and continue having debates with their peers, the proponents of the round Earth theory. Even I scoffed at the idea that the Earth might be flat a few months ago. Now I’m just unsure. Perhaps you’d like to see if you could convince them. And yes, they back their claims with evidence. Something that I just noticed, you said that science “becomes progressively more accurate with time. For instance, scientists first believed that the Earth was flat, then they said it was perfectly spherical, and finally arrived on the correct oblate spheroid model.” That is incorrect. Aristotle first came up with the round earth model, after which the flat earth theory arrived.

        I never said that scientists intentionally mislead us. That would be absurd. It’s inconceivable that someone would amass that much knowledge just to play a prank on everyone. Rather I say that what they mostly present are theories, not laws. There is a huge difference between the two. Yes, you say that the theory is backed by evidence. Well that’s the least they’d have to do to get us to give it a second look. You cannot call it a virtue, since without it their theories would be empty words.

        97% of the scientists agreed, in 2010, that global warming was what was affecting this planet’s climate. That does not give anyone the right to get up on the high horse of science and tell us mere mortals what’s what. In the past, I’m not sure when my history is a bit rusty, 100% of the scientists believed that the Earth was flat (I’m not saying they were wrong, just pointing out how what you consider wrong, might be considered right at one point). Furthermore, perhaps in the future it might be discovered that prominent scientific discoveries of this day and age are complete tosh.

        I apologize for my aggressive stance in my prior post, it was just a natural reaction to the snobbish article ridden with mistakes and laughable arguments. Before I treated myself to your other articles, I had gained a sense of the kind person you were. I directly recognised that you were an atheist frustrated by the ignorance of the people which try to shove religion down everyone’s throats and are immune to constructive logic and reasoning. Since I myself am an atheist, I realise where you’re coming from but treating science with such superiority only seems to be familiar to how religion is treated.You misunderstood me when you said there was a flaw in my understanding how the scientific community works. I do not consider science as a papacy, rather it’s the way you’re presenting it. Denying science is the eighth deadly sin? What next, will questioning it become blasphemy?

  1. Khwaja,

    Really? In times of a health crisis, you would go to a dry-cleaner for a prescription or a major surgery? You would actually say to your doctor, “Wait, I’ll go get a second opinion from my dry-cleaner about these drugs you prescribed me.”

    We both know that’s not the case. You would trust the person who has spent five years in medical school, with many more years of experience dealing with the exact same medical conditions, to give you advice on health issues. Not a random person who can’t tell a spleen from a gallbladder.

    And wait, are you actually defending the flat earth theory? And you find MY arguments laughable?

    You’re probably just trolling, so I won’t indulge you further. I will say that the shape of earth is no longer a debate. We’ve been to space…we’ve seen what the Earth looks like. If you fly a plane straight either West or East, you’ll arrive back at the same spot because the earth is round.

    It’s basic science for 3-year olds. I’m sorry I have to be condescending here, but with your glaring lack of scientific information, it’s hard not to be.

    • Khawaja
    • May 18th, 2012

    Are you being intentionally thick or are you just missing the point of my argument due to sheer stupidity? Read closely because your ignorance is getting on my nerves now. You’ve reduced me to capitalize the keywords of my arguments, something I usually avoid.

    When I say I would trust the dry cleaner as much as the doctor, I obviously don’t mean literally, which anyone with grade 5 comprehension skills could infer. That still doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t QUESTION the doctor. Blindly accepting science is akin to blindly accepting religion. What you’re proposing as FACTS and LAWS are mere THEORIES. There’s a difference. Learn it.

    Something I’d like to add here. You’ve mentioned that the scientific process is a self improving one, which irons out any errors due to peer review. Indeed it does, however you must still understand what the study or theory is. Though peer review is an excellent system, it still isn’t flawless or perfect (a mythical concept anyways). Hopefully this is the point you’ve been trying to put across and we can end this nonsensical back and forth.

    On to the flat Earth theory. You obviously haven’t read been to the site which I’ve suggested twice since the plane example you’ve given is easily satisfied by the flat Earth theory as well. Now I’m not saying that the flat Earth theory is correct, but the arguments they put forth; of navigational instruments, physics, geometry and such, all are in accord with reasoning just enough to put doubt in your mind, not to mention a well good time debating with people who, though may be trolling, definitely know what they’re on about. You have to listen to every argument and THINK.

    You laugh at me while providing us with gems like, “If you think denying gravity is stupid and worth making fun of…” Now unless I’m mistaken, it’s as if you’re considering gravity to be a fact; a law. Remember how you said that I have a glaring lack of scientific information? Now go prove gravity? Can’t? Get any scientist alive to prove it. Oh wait, you can’t, since it’s not a law, its a THEORY. Here’s a challenge, if you do that, scientifically (not saying something to the effect of “you’re on the ground jackass”), I’ll step off and concede. Until then, do try to read into what I’m saying. And please spell my name properly, it’s quite frustrating when people do that.

  2. Khwaja,

    Your inability to comprehend the subject is a failure on your part, not mine. The entire discussion has been about the importance of a scientist’s word relative to a non-scientist’s. And you made the embarrassingly ludicrous statement that you would trust your dry-cleaner’s word as much as your doctor’s. In the context of the current discussion, that was utter nonsense even if you meant to say something different. Recognize that.

    Also, this blog is for readers who, at the very least, have the good sense to realize that the shape of the earth is not a debate. There’s no controversy among scientists today whether the earth is round or not, nor is there any debate among regular non-scientists with an iota of common sense.

    The only fact you need to THINK about is that planes going from USA to Japan fly west, instead of east across all of Europe and Asia. They don’t fly off the edge of the Earth into space.

    The very fact that you’re questioning, if not rejecting, the round shape of the earth because of some smartly worded balderdash on a random website is a wailing testament to your scientific illiteracy.

    • Khawaja
    • May 18th, 2012

    Whereas you testifying gravity as a law isn’t similar? The difference is you’re misquoting, whereas I was spot on. But honestly, you’re just going around in circles now. Instead of actually responding to my arguments you seem to have clutched on to this one insignificant sentence I said and blown it way out of context just to try to “win” this argument. If it is indeed so important to you then lets say that you have won, and carry on to a constructive debate without the name-calling and squabbling like children.

    I grasped what the purpose of this article was, yet I was merely adding to it that whether a scientist or non-scientist says something, that still doesn’t devoid you the right questioning him. It is, after all, the essence of critical thinking. Rather the problem I had was the sheer superiority that you displayed flawed concepts with.

    And to put it to rest once and for all, not only do I not believe in the flat Earth theory, but I debate against it. Indeed a fruitless endeavour, yet it’s baffling to see how well those people display scientific acumen and I must admit, it is an enjoyable way to sharpen one’s concepts. Those people aren’t just random trolls either, some have exceptional knowledge in geometry, physics, calculus, geography and such which they use to posit their arguments. And no, as previously assumed, I do not take advise from my dry-cleaner. My toaster is obviously way more experienced in that department. (Joke. I’m pointing it out even though it ruins it, but I feel as if I must).

    PS – Do try to spell my name correctly, I would appreciate that.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: