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|—Charles Sanders Peirce, pro-science|
“”It's scientifically impossible for the bumblebee to fly; but the bumblebee, being unaware of these scientific facts, flies anyways.
|—Mike Huckabee, anti-science|
If a position or theory is pro-science (aka "science"), as opposed to anti-science, it will follow the scientific method, be potentially refutable, peer-reviewable, reproducible, and open to change if the position comes in conflict with observed fact. An anti-science position will violate one or more of these thresholds, in addition to likely being incoherent. In other words -- is it science?
Anti-science positions are promoted especially when political ideology and/or religious dogma conflict with actual science. While it is highly likely that anti-science positions are the result of ideological positions, it is important to note that holding a particular ideological position does not automatically make an individual guilty of being anti-science, or vice versa.
Common anti-science targets include evolution, global warming,, GMOs, and various forms of medicine, although other sciences that conflict with the anti-science ideology are often targeted as well.
While it is frequently associated with conservative political positions, vaccine denialism, alternative medicine (particularly of the Eastern or herbal-based variety), the entire organic food movement, chemophobia, and opposition to a lot of genetic research is associated with the left.
 Examples of anti-science tactics
“”Get your facts first, and then you can distort them at your leisure.
Anti-science proponents often attack science through:
- Attempts to discredit the scientists themselves. Examples include claims that Galileo was a heretic and that Charles Darwin was a racist.
- Attempts to discredit scientific objectivity by claiming that the motivation to research a subject is biased. Examples include claims that evolution is a religion and that global warming research is motivated by a desire for more government regulation.
- Attempts to discredit scientific results because it's imagined they they have bad consequences. Examples include claims that the theory of relativity will lead to moral relativism and that Darwinism led to Social Darwinism and Hitler.
- Attempts to use flawed arguments, such as argumentum ad populum, to "prove" a position correct or incorrect regardless of its scientific basis or lack therof. Examples include the Oregon Petition and A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.
- Attempts to replace science backed by evidence (a.k.a. "science") with pseudoscience. Examples include creation science and Lysenkoism.
- Attempts to label scientific ideas as conspiracy theories. An example is the idea that global warming is a conspiracy theory.
- Attempts to couch anti-science positions in reassuring code words in order to appear less distortive of science. Examples include "intelligent design" or "alternative medicine".
- Outright denial -- because if you can't disprove something, just deny that it exists. Examples include germ theory denialism, HIV denial, or discounting transitional forms.
- And the all-time favorite, attempts to obfuscate observed facts.
 Examples of anti-science proponents
|—Pastor Peter LaRuffa|
- Creationists often attack science because it contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible on how old the Earth is, whether a global flood or massive-scale series of comet collisions occurred, how modern species were created instantaneously or designed intelligently, and pretty much everything else about creationism, while supporting radiometric dating, the law of conservation of mass and energy, the theory of evolution, the fossil record, the field of dendrochronology, the theory of relativity, and many other fields of science that blow holes in creationism.
- Racists, especially racialists, often attack science because science shows notions of any significant racial differences to be societal constructs rather than products of "human biodiversity" and racialist pseudosciences such as phrenology to be flawed.
- Similarly, sexists, MRAs, and extreme feminists attack science for showing widespread similarity between the genders.
- Economic conservatives often attack the theory of global warming because it would be an argument for government regulation.
- Similarly, lobbyists of industries that would benefit from deregulation often
abuse politics to ignore the advice of scientists. For example, business-associated appointees in the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and other regulatory agencies have made decisions in conflict with the recommendations of agency scientists.
- Promoters of "alternative medicine" often attack vaccines, "Big Pharma", "allopathics", and generally evidence-based medicine, because it would cut into their profits by proving their ineffectiveness as compared to placebos.
 Other uses of the term
This modern usage of the term should not be confused with the anti-science movement in the 1960s and 1970s, which, similar to but less violent than the Luddites, was mostly concerned with the potential dehumanization that uncontrolled scientific and technological advancement could cause. While this skepticism of unchecked change meets the dictionary definition of classic conservatism, it falls far short of the anti-intellectual thrust of modern political conservatism.
 What it is not
The phrase does not mean:
- "Having a scientifically testable and potentially falsifiable hypothesis which is opposed to the paradigm currently dominant in the scientific community," because in this case, Einstein, Darwin, Pasteur, Galileo, and Copernicus would also meet the definition of having been "anti-science".
- "Wrong," in which case every scientist that has held a hypothesis, based on evidence of their time period, that is ultimately proven false would meet the definition of having been "anti-science". It is simply the nature of scientific theories to be overturned or updated once new evidence is found, often with technologies not present previously. On the other hand, even pseudoscientific or non-scientific claims can accidentally go right.
 Why it is important
“”In very many ways I am far richer than King Henry VIII. I own two cars, I have air conditioning and clean running water, I can play Mickey Mouse on an HDTV, and with Simvastatin will likely live twice as long as he did. This doesn't even consider the fact that I have In n Out, sushi, ice cream, Coca Cola, and thousands of things on a daily basis he would have considered to be in the realm of kings.
Anti-science positions and general anti-intellectualism can and has caused death and suffering on a large scale. For example, many early policymakers discounted scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and consequently failed to provide appropriate treatment to those in need. This HIV denial caused hundreds of thousands to die; in South Africa alone, 300,000 people died. Disinformation about HIV and AIDS in African (and worldwide) culture continues to exist today, leading to further problems with reducing the spread of HIV through use of contraception and to discrimination against AIDS victims.
The harm done by anti-science movements goes beyond the specific sciences with which they are mainly concerned. By undermining the scientific method, or seeking to "amend" it so that a particular ideology is shoehorned into the definition of science, such movements threaten to disrupt the public's understanding that systematic logical investigation, also called "science", is the best system for gaining knowledge. Take, for example, the results of a 2005 Gallup poll about the public's beliefs in paranormal activity. Among other things, this poll found that about a quarter of the people surveyed in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. believed that the positions of stars and planets have an effect on their lives and communication with the dead was possible. Watering down the scientific method (as some anti-science advocates attempt to do) is unlikely to improve those figures.
Furthermore, corrupting the scientific method has the potential to damage public trust in empirical findings. If people are led to believe that science is nothing more than another agenda, on the same footing as any belief system, will they react if scientists find that a factory near their homes is releasing dangerous chemicals into the environment? Why should they care? After all, the only people concerned are "scientists"!
Ultimately, the most important thing about science is what it can do for the human species. Watering down or corrupting the scientific method and reducing public trust in science can only reduce science's ability to improve people's lives. When researching cancer, concluding that Goddidit contributes nothing to the quest for a cure. The scientific method isn't arbitrary; it's the best way we've found to investigate the natural world and expand our knowledge of it.
 See Also
- Politicization of science
- Sound science
- War on Science
- ↑ Peirce, Charles S. 1997. Pragmatism as a Principle of Right Thinking. State University of New York Press. Lectures originally delivered in 1903.
- ↑ Goldenberg, Suzanne. "Huckabee, the bumblebee, rises to the top on a wing and a prayer." Guardian News and Media Limited. 05 December 2007. Web. 17 May 2014.
- ↑ "Anti-science." Dictionary.com Unabridged. n.d. 18 May 2014.
- ↑ The Edge of Evolution
- ↑ Global warming denialism, global warming conspiracy theory
- ↑ Vaccine denialism, alternative medicine
- ↑ Kipling, Rudyard. From Sea to Sea, Chapter 37.
- ↑ For an example, see Evolution is Religion by Ken Ham.
- ↑ Conservapedia:Conservapedian relativity
- ↑ Tim Ball
- ↑ "Watch Creationists Talking About Creationism"
- ↑ "Questioning Darwin". (Creationist)
- ↑ "The Amazing Revolving Door Between Montsanto, the EPA, and the FDA."
- ↑ Smithsonian Magazine: "Alternative Medicine is a $34 Billion Industry, But Only One-Third of The Treatments Have Been Tested"
- ↑ "Anti-Science of the 1960's and 1970's."
- ↑ "The contract between science and society, plus a possible new Renaissance". Ars OpenForum. 10 December 2012. Web forum. 19 May 2014.
- ↑ Boseley, Sarah. "Mbeki Aids denial 'caused 300,000 deaths'." Guardian News and Media Limited. 26 November 2008. Web. 17 May 2014.
- ↑ Holmes, Alexander. "Anti-science can be a lethal game." Guardian News and Media Limited. 18 January 2010. Web. 17 May 2014.
- ↑ "UN study says youth are uninformed about HIV/AIDS." UNICEF. 2 July 2002. Web. 20 May 2014.
- ↑ "HIV & AIDS Stigma and Discrimination." AVERT. n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.
- ↑ Lyons, Linda. "Paranormal Beliefs Come (Super)Naturally to Some." Gallup, Inc. 01 November 2005. Web. 17 May 2014..