free debate

June 9, 2010

The Prestige and Dismissal of Science

Life has been really busy heading into summer. I love blogging but it simply eats up time. I'm not going to stop anytime soon and hopefully I can increase the amount of time I spend doing the research and writing. For now, here is a new article and plan to see more in the near future.

Scientific literacy in our society is a huge problem. Despite this, I think that science does entertain a level of prestige within our society. Science produces the goods from smartphones to modern computers. People can see this, even the anti-science community. This leads to some really interesting attitudes towards science from people who, for the most part, completely reject it.

The website may be one of the most anti-science sites I have come across. They claim their knowledge comes from the Vedic texts. These texts are most commonly associated with Hinduism; however, this people are not practicing any form of Hinduism I am familiar with. Their claims are extreme, ranging from denying evolution to saying that the Moon is farther from the Earth than the Sun. Their website states, "Of course the “scientists” put on a grand show and try to convince us they know everything about how the universe works. If you ask them any question they have an answer ready…... But when one closely analyses any field of science one finds nothing is really very “scientific” at all." That's about as anti-science as it gets, but then they will say things like this: "A large body of evidence is certainly there and it requires scientific study and the “Soul Theory” will enable this. Unless there are two separate entities, the body and the soul, out-of-body experiences would be impossible. But it seems they are not. This is compelling proof of the existence of the soul." So when the science supports their beliefs, they have no problem with it.

This inconsistency with regard to science is common on many pseudoscientific websites. Where science says their claims are improbable or flat out wrong, they ignore and fight it. On the flip side, when the science can be twisted to give them credibility, they will gladly accept it. This, maybe more then anything else, shows their dedication to their ideology over the evidence. They are trying to pick and choose the science they like, and get rid of the rest. Science just doesn't work that way This is a sloppy way of thinking. Still, it is surprisingly common. Whenever you are reading something, look to see if they are consistently respecting evidence. If not, why?

Science works. Few people would argue that and that's why science has the prestige it. Proponents of nonscientific ideas see that prestige and want to latch their idea to it. Science tests ideas against reality and is in that way bound to it. I think ideas based in reality better stand the test of time, then those ideas which are not.  Still, every generation has their superstitions whether they are new or morphed from previous generations. Science is a tool for discerning reality, from superstition.  Use it. Bask in the wonders it provides us. Just always be wary of when it may be misused.