Science as a Glorious, Skeptical Enterprise
Healthy science is not a list of orthodox beliefs, but more like an endless, running debating club.
January 27, 2010 - 12:00 am
Good science is a Darwinian enterprise. Only the best ideas survive and spread over the long run, because they pass test after test after test. Everybody tries to shoot holes in them. In good science, bad ideas are knocked down in the nastiest, meanest, knock-down, drag-out fight this side of the Spanish Inquisition.
Bad ideas get trashed in good science. If you doubt it, just read James Watson on the heated fight with Linus Pauling over the structure of DNA. Craig Venter outraged the competition by discovering the human genome three years before they expected to get there. Or see what Isaac Newton said about Leibniz. It gets nasty.
That’s for healthy science, which is not a list of orthodox beliefs, but more like an endless, running debating club. You could tell that global warming was in trouble the moment that James Hansen, NASA’s chief climate astrologer and enforcer of The Faith, said that “climate deniers” should be put in jail.
Good science is full of “deniers,” who are also called “skeptics.” I’ve never met a scientist who wasn’t one. Albert Einstein was a lifelong skeptic about quantum mechanics. Nobody wanted to throw him in jail. Einstein was (and still is) admired for the brilliance of his skepticism. When somebody wants to jail a skeptic you know their favorite orthodoxy is tottering and about to slip down some rat hole. James Hansen was seeing the end of the global warming fraud, and he was afraid.
Climate alarmism is now destined for history’s garbage heap, as it should be. It never made any sense. Even Science magazine — which was run by a close friend of doomsayer Paul Ehrlich until last year — has suddenly dropped any mention of global warming. No more climate change, all of a sudden! Problem solved.
To preserve the truth about the global warming fraud, the Library of Congress should copy the whole Science magazine database, which still has all those old alarmist headlines. (Try it at Sciencemag.org.) The propaganda arm of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), called Eurekalert.org, also has thousands of global warming press releases, all written to squeeze your tax dollars down to the last penny. If you want to see the money machine behind global warming, you have to visit Eurekalert. Because today the real Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith isn’t in the Vatican — it’s in Science and Nature magazines.
But what about the threat of raging mobs of Creationist Christians brandishing Bibles? For the real scientists, who cares? If you understand Darwinian theory you’ll like it, because it explains an awful lot about animals and plants, like the amazing resemblances between house cats and African lions — or the very subtle differences between dogs and wolves. (Guess which one doesn’t bark, and why.) If some person of faith then tells you that God made it all, if you don’t share their faith, don’t make a fuss — unless, that is, you harbor secret doubts.
Real scientists don’t throw heretics in jail. They are bound to respect rational skeptics, because everybody is a skeptic.
Which is why it’s so weird to see militant atheism coming from the likes of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, both true believers of the left. They are on a militant crusade just like Peter the Hermit. Charles Darwin himself never felt the need to go out and jail skeptics. As for Dawkins and Hitchens, methinks those laddies do protest too much.
There are at least two strong, positive arguments to be made for teaching Creationism in biology classes.