Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Science Establishment Conclusion

In this conclusion to The Science Establishment, I just want to go over the first four posts in brief. In the first one I touched on some of the seemingly contradictory "findings" coming from our science establishment. The second dealt with the principles involved and the CDC example. The third tried to point out the rise of the Social Theory and Statistics as factors forcing reason out. The fourth was devoted to revealing two results of intellectual sloppiness--the use of the concept "link" in statistics and the practice of using "consensus" as a substitute for proof--as consequences of science becomming an establishment.

The series wasn't meant to be exhaustive. That would require one or two books. There is however, one more point I'd like to make. It is akin to Jeff Foxworthy's "You know you're a redneck when..." It is "You know you're listening to a member of an establishment when:

He calls all those who disagree with him "skeptics", "deniers," "doubters," etc.

He claims his credentials are superior to your credentials,

He claimes he has a "consensus" that support his ideas,

He calls his associations and correlations "links,"

He says his findings are so urgent and catastrophic there is no time to verify them.
Government must act now.

I'm sure my readers could add some I haven't thought of. But these are some of the tactics I disdain the most. To me, a scientist, and a science journal editor, devoted to discovering the truth should be a person who is eager to wear the label of "skeptic" and "doubter" as a badge of honor. He (or she) will live by the motto "Show me the data and I'll believe it."

So what can we do to try and get science redevoted to reason? I would start by getting science out of the hands of government. At the website of the Science and Environment Policy Project (www.SEPP.org) is an article from www.sfgate.com titled "The Unholy Lust of Scietists" which talks about the corruption in science in which the author, David S. Oderberg, suggests:

"For a start, although I distance myself wholly from his anti-rationalism and methodological anarchy, I share the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend's demand for a separation of science and state, or at the very least a radical curtailment of public financial sponsorship of scientific research. How could the millions thrown at scientists be anything other than a veritable inducement to misconduct?"

I agree. I think the CDC should be privatized along with the FDA, USDA and the EPA. Let them function in an advisory capacity much like Underwriters' Laboratories and Consumer Reports. A private CDC would have nothing to gain by wrongly insisting 400,000 people die of obesity every year. That kind of malpractice would eventually cease because it would no longer be encouraged.

In closing I just want to point to another area of human endeavor where reason was forced out long ago--education. Like science, the essence of education is reason, and since the government monopolized it, a rational curriculum was forced out in favor of "progressive education." The disasterous results are obvious.

Just as I support in principle, Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom" on the foreign front, we desperately need a "Forward Strategy of Privatization" on the domestic front.

No comments: