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Science Denial
Yellow head
Last chapter of Science Tales. The summing-up chapter. This is the beta version, so feel free to add comments and corrections.

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"Yeah, but faith gives me more comfort and allows me to believe in what I want to believe, and being right is more important to me than being true."

:/ So how do we confront the realities of the limitations of human behaviour?

Well. I guess by expanding the importance of scientific process into more and more different kinds of media, so that it can be accepted by different kinds of learners and thinkers.

Excellent, excellent. Very nice. This book is going to be really successful when it comes out.

Along similar thematic lines, which I just watched last night with a friend:


This? Is made of all sorts of awesome, both for the content, and your art--the people you draw manage to be incredibly expressive with just a few lines. Can't wait for the book :)

900 deaths a day! I hadn't realised it was that much. Amazing that he was president for 9 years if that was a case, because it's the sort of thing you'd think would be noticed and shown as proof they were wrong. But I know that there are other factors at work over there.

In a lot of the Western World, HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a "gay disease" by a heteronormative public. But elsewhere it's just a sexual contagion, relying primarily on bad sexual and drug use practice, and poor screening of blood donation. I think it speaks volumes that the philosopher Foucault died of an AIDS related problem, while denying that such existed!

But also I think that faith vs science is a false dichotomy. I'm a pagan, but that contradict my following and understanding the the process of science. It's not an either/or situation, but folk confuse "truth" - an emotional validation of a concept - with facts and evidence.

Very nice work! However, using the climate change as an example of the scientific method might not be the best option.

Peer review is not actually a requirement for science and neither is passing the review proof of anything (the second part was properly mentioned). The sole purpose of peer review is to avoid publishing papers with obvious mistakes in them, and to allow for the mistakes to be corrected before published. The real scrutiny only begins once the paper has been published.

For example, most of the - often contradicting - nutritional research you see reported on the media is based on valid peer-reviewed studies. Instead of trying to explain what is wrong myself, I will link to a video where that is done far better than I could: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RXvBveht0

Consensus also has nothing to do with science. Bohr and other old school physicists had major trouble accepting Einstein's relativity theories and Einstein himself wouldn't accept Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Instead, consensus is a tool for those who do not understand the science itself. Policymakers base their decisions on consensus views because they cannot study the research itself.

Consensus views themselves are oftentimes very problematic, especially in smaller fields where the entire field might be formed around some belief (consider e.g. feminist studies).

Who do you accept as an expert on the area? The comic mentions that over 90 % of scientists consider man-made climate change a reality. This figure probably comes from the often quoted study (Doran and Zimmerman 2009) that concluded that 97 % of climate specialists believe in humans having significant contributing factor in changing the global mean temperatures. However if you actually read the paper, you will find that the researches sent their questions to 10257 earth scientists, out of whom 3146 responded. Out of these responses, only 77 were picked using arbitrary criteria and 75 of them had a positive answer on that question. 75/77 is 97 %, the figure widely reported by the media. Out of all the responses only 82 % were positive.

Another thing that should be probably be mentioned is what is a scientific hypothesis. In particular, it needs to explain the existing measurements better than existing theories do and it needs to be falsifiable (testable). A hypothesis (or a computer simulation) is not useful by itself because it could simply be adjusted to match the existing measurements. It turns into a theory only after the predictive power is shown by new measurements.

Absolutely fantastic Darryl! I can't wait to have the whole book!

Thanks Jess. When you coming to the UK?

whenever my money comes rolling in. Someday...someday...

The example of President Mbeki is an interesting one. It's incredibly effective inasmuch as he's probably not well known here, and the fact that his term was so recent and that there's STILL a crisis going on make it a shocking thing to learn. There have been a whole host of other HIV/AIDS deniers going back to the early 80s, and readers may take offense a the singling out of a black man, especially when the "good guy" scientists that we see portrayed in this segment are white westerners. I don't know the racial balance of examples in the rest of your book and even if I did, I would not advocate that you change it for balance only, but it is something to think about.

I love your wook and I look forward to seeing this in its entirely. I really appreciated your prior piece on vaccination paranoia.

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