The ’You Can’t Trust Science!’ agenda

By Ken Perrott 06/12/2010 12


Here’s a nice little video I picked up from The Guardian (see You Can’t Trust Science!). It’s a rebuttal of those claims that “Science has an agenda! Science is unreliable!”

(Please ignore the salacious eye-catching aspects).

You Can’t Trust Science! | Science | guardian.c…, posted with vodpod

As the accompanying text points out:

“Science is all about evidence. It is based in reality, in facts and in testable evidence — individual reputations do not change scientific facts, nor does belief, brainwashing and coercion. Scientists test and re-test scientific hypotheses about how the universe is put together and how it functions using the latest cutting-edge technologies. Despite this, there are adults who are taken seriously when they loudly declare: “Science has an agenda! Science is unreliable!” Using this distraction to begin a conversation that they want to dominate, these people then pontificate about their personal fantasy life as if it is real, demanding that everyone else in the world share their particular delusions, and they are taken seriously — without having to produce a shred of real evidence to support their statements.”

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12 Responses to “The ’You Can’t Trust Science!’ agenda”

  • A world-view or philosophical system should be judged by its ideals and not by its abuses or by the failure of people to adhere to what it teaches.

    If we judge it by its abuses, as this video has done towards Christianity, then we might reject Science on the grounds of Hiroshima for instance. It’s a bit cheeky to put in the digs and then say, “we’re just kidding” as a way of not having to answer to poor reasoning.

    That aside, I say that rational thinking is welcome from all areas of knowledge whether that comes from Science, Religion, or both.

  • Sam, I don’t agree. Ideals are often false and usually cover a multitude of sins.

    Personally I judge religion and science on the way they work. Their epistemology. Their willingness to rely on and recognize evidence and to test their conclusions against reality.

    I think these differences between science and religion explain why science has been so succesful in undeterstanding reality and improving human life. And why religion has been proven so disastrously wrong in it’s explanations of reality. And so resistant to improving human life.

  • @samhight

    “A world-view or philosophical system should be judged by its ideals and not by its abuses or by the failure of people to adhere to what it teaches.”

    There are immoral ideals in almost all pre-1960s ideologies (scientology, christianity, mormonism, judaism, hinduism) that are anti-women, anti-homosexual, and anti-science in that they make statements about the natural world that are false.

    Please feel free to release Bible 2.0 without the bigotry and popularise this and replace the existing text (perhaps you could start from the Jefferson Bible) and then we’ll discuss whether people are straying from the text.

  • Sam,

    then we might reject Science on the grounds of Hiroshima for instance

    Poor comparison. It was a military event, on behalf of a government. For what it’s worth – of a (nominally) Christian country, etc. Science isn’t in the business of controlling the military.

  • Another point Sam with this idea: ““A world-view or philosophical system should be judged by its ideals and not by its abuses.”

    I think a balanced judgement requires consideration of both. Do you judge the practice of Soviet Communism only from the positives it achieved? Do you ignore the Stalin Terror?

  • “…religion has been proven so disastrously wrong in it’s explanations of reality. And so resistant to improving human life.”
    It’s a matter of context and depends largely on your own world-view (read “assumptions”) whether this is a true statement or not.

    Besides that, how can a purely scientific world-view have an absolute view on right and wrong? If it can’t, then it can’t make any judgement call on the moral issues of religion, e.g. homosexuality, at what stage of development a fetus/baby becomes a real person, gender roles, etc. but the scientist can force it if he/she brings their opinion to the table, mixing it with their Science.

    As far as moral issues that the Bible has had a positive impact on, consider slavery (William Wilberforce) and other human rights (including the rights of women of which the Bible says that husbands should be willing to give up their lives for their wives in serving them). It is because we consider these commands as the very words of God that we try to follow them. And the proper motivation is not fear, but gratitude and respect for all that He has given us.

    When it comes to the physical reality of the universe though, there is a lot more agreement with the Bible than “secular” Science would like people to believe. The chief difference is obviously the age of the earth/universe and the interpretation of various related evidences. To be honest, I’ve found that most other disagreements are nit-picking with an unwillingness to try and see the proper context of a passage or verse. Miracles are miracles, for instance, going against the common course of nature to stand out for a reason.

    That’s a heap of ideas anyway so I’ll finish there so you don’t think I’m ranting (not too much anyway 😉 )

  • Perhaps a world view or philosophical system should be judged by its’ outcomes rather than it’s ideals?

  • I judge any ideal on its own, but I know that human nature is fallen and will twist any ideal to its own selfish ends. That doesn’t mean the ideal is bad, or something unworthy of aiming for.

    If we aim for an ideal by deliberately directing people in a different direction, knowing that they will corrupt that ideal and hoping to get them to that ideal in a round about way, then we are acknowledging that the original ideal is good anyway.

    I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the Soviet brand of Communism but many countries have built fairly successful systems that have strong elements of socialism. Some might even say that Jesus was a socialist with some of the methods of “property sharing” and “welfare” that his followers held to.

  • Samhight
    ““…religion has been proven so disastrously wrong in it’s explanations of reality. And so resistant to improving human life.”

    It’s a matter of context and depends largely on your own world-view (read “assumptions”) whether this is a true statement or not.”

    So is it a matter of context whether the earth is flat, or 6000 years old or whether HIV can pass through a condom?

    Some religions have held on to beliefs in the face of substantial scientific evidence to the contrary and while I agree with you that some judgements about whether something is good or bad can depend on the context, that does not mean one cannot state that something is good or bad (or perhaps beneficial or deleterious would be more appropriate terms) within specified parameters.

  • Sam,

    Homosexuality is readily studied, and has been for many species.

    Human development is well-studied. Define what you consider ‘an independent body’ or ‘a mind’, etc., and developmental biology can inform you as to where it first appears.

    Gender roles can have deeper biological roots, which can be studied and are. Or they might have religious (or other cultural) origins, in which case the question might be why the religion/culture is imposing an unnatural system.

    but I know that human nature is fallen

    You assume “that human nature is fallen”, but will only know if you test your hypothesis. Without testing you only have ideas (or perhaps hopes/wishes).

    I’m not particularly knowledgeable…

    Ken’s point, or part of it as I read it, was that you can’t ignore parts that don’t appeal to you. For example, you can’t ignore the moral issues that the Christian texts (or Christian religion in general) had a negative impact on.

  • I trust religion to make sure that children are brought up to think like their religious teacher.
    I trust religion to ensure that I have a coded message to live with and by.
    I trust religion to ensure that susceptible brains are well washed to carry on the religion to the next generation.
    I trust religion to ensure that those smitten and who are possessed with charisma (careful selection of the meaning here) will rise to the fore and be the leaders of the washers.
    I trust religion to empower me to fight – and kill – my enemy in the name of (any) god.
    I trust religion to ensure I have a place in heaven. Wherever in hell that is.
    I trust religion to ensure that if I do wrong the devil will have a say in it.

    I trust science to let me discover that all the above is not necessarily so.
    I trust science to allow me to discover things by doing the same experiment that others have demonstrated works.
    I trust science to give rational and logical reasons for life, the universe and everything.
    I trust science to allow me to discover something more, that may even have been demonstrated to be wrong, and still allow a rational and logical explanation to explain it.

    And there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden. And it didn’t take science to convince me. I just took a good look.