Remember when we were encouraged to believe that scientists are all smart’n'stuff?

No, you kids stop laughing. This is before your time, I know, but in the olden days we children sat spellbound around our fires as the elders told us wondrous tales of a fabulous “scientific method” through which wise men would bring progress and enlightenment to our world.

The idea – and I’m working from memory here, because of course nobody tells such tales anymore – is that in the olden days scientists didn’t just decide what they wanted people to believe and then think up statistics to support those conclusions, the way they do now. Rather they formed “hypotheses,” which they then attempted to support or disprove with actual “evidence.”

It sounded really good and sold a lot of white lab coats, but in the end the scientists learned the same thing their predecessors the shamans and soothsayers could have told them: Our masters don’t pay for righteous uncertainty. They already know what they want the truth to be, and unless you want to explore all those exciting opportunities in ditch-digging you’ll discover it for them.

And so they do. And they do, and they do, and no matter how widely the ‘settled science’ wanders from observable fact, they’ll keep right on howling it.

Just how much more crime can we expect? Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warming projections, Ranson calculated that from 2010 to 2099, climate change will “cause” an additional “22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft” in the United States.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Remember when we were encouraged to believe that scientists are all smart’n'stuff?

  1. You may well have already figured this out by now, but your link seems to be as malformed as the advertised content behind it. :-)

  2. Joel says:

    Woops! Fixed.

    (I always mean to test the links. Don’t good intentions count for anything?)

  3. Dan says:

    If you have any audience left you can tell of time when accountants could be trusted to report on financial statements truthfully.

  4. I certainly remember that now-quaint notion of “scientific method” too. Which is why I still can’t get over the term “settled science”. The very concept of “settled” science is like dividing by zero. (Which, I suppose, explains fully why Master loves it so very very much.)

    There’s a book I fairly regularly re-read to my now-five-year-old daughter, called “Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics”. In general it does a really good job at distilling the method into kid-friendly nuggets. What’s amazing here is to line those up against the state of science today.

    According to the book, if someone makes a claim that you’re supposed to believe, you should:

    #1: Check It Out: You know, actually look into the matter yourself. Is the claim consistent or does it shift around? Are the people making the claim invested in the question, or the answer? Things like that.

    Modern Science: None shall question. If you try to figure it out for yourself, you are a denier and a heretic. Line on the left, one cross each.

    #2: Do It Again: If your conclusion is right, you should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same result.

    Modern Science: Repeat the experiment only until you reach the “settled science” conclusion, then immediately stop and move on to something else. Any further dithering is evidence of denial. Line on the left, one cross each.

    #3: Try To Prove It Wrong: If your conclusion is right, then you shouldn’t be able to prove it wrong–and the harder you try to prove it wrong, and fail, the more solid your confidence is in your conclusion.

    Modern Science: Wait, what, someone is trying to prove us wrong? The hell with the line and the cross, send in the drones. Onward, settled-science soldiers!

  5. jim says:

    Joel: :)

    Kevin: I think most folks would agree Einstein was a pretty good scientist. And we know he’s the guy who said: “Nothing can ever prove me right; one experiment can prove me wrong.” Give me a few climate scientists who operate like that and I’ll start taking them seriously.

  6. Buck. says:

    I was kinda laughing that the co-founder of Greenpeace says he sees no evidence of anthropogenic climate change.

  7. Mr Galt says:

    I’m a working scientist who has worked for many years with other scientists, and what I’ve seen happen to the discipline is nauseating. Most are oblivious to any fact that doesn’t support their personal agenda, which in the final analysis is the same agenda of most people – money, power, and personal aggrandizement. No one can even *think* about getting any grant money unless their proposal has something to do with “climate change” or “green energy”. They are uniformly anti-religion and anti-God, which is OK unless it’s because you don’t want the competition to your own secular religion. They are high priests of the death cult of Socialism, with their own articles of faith, Gods, saints, and myths.

    P.S. Anyone, and I mean anyone that claims “the science is settled” is no scientist – I don’t care how many diplomas they have hanging on their walls. If Mr. Newton’s Law of Gravity is still up for debate, by God so is “global warming”.

To the stake with the heretic!