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Phony science reporting

Western thought going south

One of the ongoing trends in modernity is the shift in a basis of trust and truth-testing away from revelation and toward science.  By “science” I refer to fields of study having to do with nature — physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc.   This is what Mr. Obama meant when he said he didn’t want the debate over stem cell research to be decided by ideology but by science.  He thinks of science as an ideology that can make moral decisions self-evident.  Moreover, for many, science has become an ideology.  The recent turmoil around the Texas school board’s decisions on textbooks was portrayed in the media as scientific soldiers of enlightenment bravely defending the ramparts of knowledge against an onslaught of ignert fundies.  This is a clash of ideologues if ever there was one.  Even if they were both wrong, I’d prefer an ideologue who admits he is one.

What science can and can’t do

Being an engineer by trade, I’m all about some science.  But I’m also familiar with its limitations, which are chiefly two.  First, the essence of true science is observation, so it tells you only what is, not what was, will be, or ought to be.  Second, scientists and science reporters are sinners prone to errors and outright lies just like the rest of us.  When they overstep that first boundary, it ceases to be true science, and the resulting junk science usually transgresses into the second area and seeks to influence religion, morals, and public policy.

Science should stop talking when the truth runs out

Examples of junk science are about as hard to find as a trash bag in a landfill.  Science blogger Anthony Watts has been reporting on the Catlin Arctic Survey which has trekked across the far north in search of data to confirm global warming.  Errors and misstatements on the Catlin web site have abounded.  One of the big ones was a congratulatory note from Prince Charles urging that Catlin’s findings be used to justify limitations on carbon even before the survey team has assembled its facts.  Not to judge things too harshly, but it sure looks like all the insiders know in advance what Catlin’s conclusions will be.  (Prediction: Global warming will be confirmed.  Carbon will be blamed.)  And this is science?  Closer to home, are we getting all sides of an issue presented when Al Gore is invited to speak before Congress but England’s former science adviser to the prime minister gets the bum’s rush out the door?

A report from Canada this week highlights a critter that “points to the missing link” between seals and land mammals.  Web provocateur Charles Johnson, who may be fairly described as a passionate and energetic despiser of creationism, upgraded the headline to say flatly, The Missing Link Between Seals and Land Mammals.  But when you see the artist’s reconstruction of the animal, it turns out to be pretty much an ordinary otter.  We see the same thing in the ditches here in west central Florida.  I’ve linked their picture of it here, although I don’t know how long the link will work.  Point is, the fossil is science — its size, location, condition, etc.  But the “missing link” claims are junk science, and worthless.

Science Daily this week reported a similar missing link story with a little dinosaur shaped like a T-rex.  Actually, it’s no missing link at all.  There used to be lots of two-legged lizards with itty bitty arms, and they came in all sizes.  They’re all extinct now, and the only feature that qualifies it as a missing link is that it’s bigger than the small ones and smaller than the big ones.  Here’s a link to the picture, though again, I don’t know how long the link will work or whether their webmaster may ask me to stop linking to it.  My point is that this is phony science reporting.  The science part concerns what was found, where, when, and under what conditions — these are merely observations and not open to question or interpretation.  The phony part is labeling it a missing link and suggesting there’s an organic, ancestral connection between this critter and the T-rex.  That part is sheer speculation based on Darwinist ideology.  Actually there is no hard evidence whatsoever that these creatures were related at all other than being formed by the same Creator.

And just for you to ponder, what kind of philosophical agenda would rate finding a fossilized otter as newsworthy?  Who would care, and why?

Junk science driving public policy

Nowhere is the phoniness of junk science more evident than in the environmental scare stories dribbling out of the leftwing tech radicals my dad calls “Birkenstock scientists.”  Back in the 1950s we were going to run out of oil.  In the 1960s, DDT was going to be the end of us all, so it was banned.  Banning DDT has actually cost millions of human lives through the spread of malaria by mosquitoes.  Junk science kills people in large numbers.

Back in the 1970s, Newsweek reported we were headed to a new ice age with disastrous weather changes producing a shortened growing season which would lead catastrophic food shortages  in as little as ten years.  They even included a claim that warming in one part of the world was actually proof of overall cooling.  Does this sound familiar?  The media employed the same scare-mongering drivel we’ve seen for the past few years on global warming, including the transparently false claim that all the experts have agreed this is so.  Sweetness and Light has helpfully posted the old Newsweek harangue on the internet just so everyone can see we’ve been down this road before.  Junk science driving public policy is nothing new.

Since then we’ve had scares about the ozone hole, global deforestation, various kinds of flu and West Nile virus, asteroids that threaten the whole planet, and who can even remember what else?  The carbon dioxide global warming shtick is only the latest fashion in a long line of phony science reporting that somehow always manages to advance a leftist political agenda.  Even the global warming fad is on the decline as evidence continues to pour in that the world has actually been cooling for the past few years.  Never missing a beat, Birkenstock scientists have repackaged the same totalitarian claptrap under a new name — climate change.  Now, whether you’re freezing or sweating, hectoring leftists can always say they told you so.

Why this issue matters to Christians

One of the roles of God’s people is to function in society as salt and light, preserving and illuminating, demonstrating lives committed to truth.  Though it’s a thankless task, it has more to do with the Gospel than you’d first think, and on several levels.  A philosophical commitment to what Francis Schaeffer called true truth is a powerful evangelistic tool.  Even the worst sinner bears the image of God, so the public commitment of God’s people as they lead lives devoted to truth is definitely going to appeal to some of them.  And it doesn’t hurt anything that the same commitment helps put the brakes on the nation’s slow drift toward totalitarianism.  I’d rather live in a free country than a green tyranny whose enforcers club us over the head with junk science.

More to my point today, a life devoted to truth need not be afraid of anything science is ever going to find.  Christians are completely free to follow any scientific evidence anywhere it may lead.  What we oppose, however, is junk science gassing up a political propaganda machine.

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