Essay:We don't need no stinkin' scientists

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Date of authorship: June 18, 2009
No cult can withstand the piercing and sobering effect, the sane perspective, provided by humor.[1]
—Murray Rothbard

Despite this being a Wiki dedicated, in part, to refutations of the anti-science movement, there are very few scientists who are users here.

Of the 11 users who self-identify as scientists on their user pages (The Lay Scientist, SHahB,[2] assume a=a, Crookedmouth, Thinker, Avillarrealpouw, Kallium, Viscount, Armondikov, Tmtoulouse, and myself) only the latter five have made more than 5 edits this year. Several of our top editors have not yet graduated from high-school, or had not when they began editing the Wiki. Of 38 bureaucrats on the Wiki, only two (Armondikov and Tmtoulouse) self-identify as scientists on their user pages.

On these grounds we received criticism from the outgoing Radioactive afikomen:

You want to be both snarky and scientific, but, possessing a user base even less science-literate than Wikipedia's, you have already grown to value snark above science.[3]

In criticizing us for this, our ambitious friend was, of course, talking a complete pile of bunk; here is why.

  • Real scientists take no notice of creationists. Creationists and other anti-science types take much delight in putting forth conspiracy theories concerning the scientific establishment, viz., that since the scientific criticisms of creation science do not appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and their own work does appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals, it follows that only inferior grades of scientists pretend to any scientific rationale for debunking creationism, while the better ones know that creationism is the Gospel TruthTM, but due to rampant atheism, are engaged in a conspiracy to shut out the "Darwin-doubters."
Being a scientist myself, I know that there is a far simpler reason for this silence from on high: real scientists are too busy doing real science to take notice of a bluebottle thumping a Bible against the windows.[4]
This being the case, creationist papers are not to be found in science journals, save when they have been snuck thereinto. And this means that rebuttals of creationist research cannot be published in those journals either, since journals will not in general waste space on rebuttals of work that did not appear in a given journal.
  • Science is an improper tool against creationists. Science is concerned with laying out how reality operates. Creationists kissed reality good-bye quite a long time ago. It follows that science is of no use against creationists.
Furthermore, since creationist publications consist of approximately 50% Bible tracts and 50% whining about how their views are being stifled by the Darwinist orthodoxy, scientists are not at all concerned with the transaction.
Lest I be deemed not a "real scientist" for grappling with creationists, I reply that I endeavor, when doing so, to keep any scientific knowledge of mine entirely out of the equation, arguing as a layman. Indeed, an entirely different sort of argument must be used with creationists.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote in a short story:
There is no argument which so touches the feeble reason of the madman as the argumentum ad absurdum. We have had men, for example, who fancied themselves chickens.[5]
It does not take a scientist to make a reductio ad absurdum, although unfortunately the creationist will usually respond to one, not by accepting that his premises are wrong, but that the pertinent absurdum is entirely true and correct. Besides the usual "dinosaurs were dragons" giggle-points, you have creationists insisting that humans are most closely related to chickens rather than apes.[6] Poe nailed it closer than he ever could have imagined.
  • Science does not provide a world-view. Contrary to what some people here say, or how they behave, science cannot validate the rationalist world-view or any other world-view. It can offer explanations for things within that world-view, toppling such arguments as the teleological argument, and demonstrate that most world-views incorporating Goddidit lead to massive violations of Occam's razor, but at their core, the questions to be settled are philosophical, not scientific.

So, to conclude, we do not need to worry that there are not many scientists among us, as the task before us does not require scientists acting in that capacity; snark, in my opinion, is very much preferable for making creationists and other narrow-minded dogmatic types feel uncomfortable.

Footnotes/references[edit]

  1. http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html
  2. Who, we have it on good authority, was merely joking around.
  3. http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=User:Radioactive_afikomen&oldid=367976
  4. Of course, if the fly starts getting too annoying, out comes the flyswatter.
  5. "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether"
  6. DeWitt Steele et al., Science of the Physical Creation, in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed.


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