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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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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.

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