Below is a note I posted on Facebook, followed by an exchange with a classmate of mine. I thought it was interesting on several levels, and have obtained my colleague's permission to repost the entire exchange here, with names removed.
Okay, blowing off steam from studying.
And, in the process, venting about an issue that genuinely pisses me off instead of bitching into some folks who definitely have it coming- but not at anywhere near the intensity at which it'd emerge right now.
My views on science, math, education, politics, human rights, music, movies, books, etc. should be reasonably clear to most folks bothering to read these mini-diary entries by now. But I do try not to openly berate anyone else's beliefs- though I occasionally fail in the effort- because I know I don't like it when it happens to me.
However, I despise the deliberate twisting of facts. Not opinions, mark you- facts. We do have a few of them; not many, but those that are still around have been hammered six ways to Sunday before being accepted. Most of them are what I'd classify as scientific.
In order for an utterance or piece of information to earn that label, it has to be pried at, inspected, rehashed, dissected, disassembled, reassembled, vilified, lionized, prodded and jabbed. Tested, in other words. An earlier note, on the scientific method, specifies more closely how.
So, as you might guess, the phrase "creation science" really hacks me off.
Deliberate perversions (or, to stretch the denomination of this particular fiction to its charitable utmost, "ignorant misconceptions") of the truth have no place in science classrooms.
They also have absolutely no business appearing under the label of any mass media outlet which purports to be responsible and erudite. The Times- and many other media outlets- have been testing my patience on this subject for almost two years, and today it cracked wide open.
The entire point of writing on the subject, for those who support it, is to conceal the fact that that the precepts of so-called "creation science" fail when subjected to the rigorous testing required of any theory contending for the label "scientific". Any real and lasting exposure of this indisputable fact is repeatedly undercut by the inclusion in major media outlets of pieces which begin at the assumption of the deliberate falsehood that "creation science" actually qualifies for the label of "science".
These newspapers and magazines and websites have betrayed their stated purpose- they are actively participating in the spreading of information which is demonstrably untrue. Were such information about a person, they would certainly be guilty of libel. Since it is not, however, they are guilty only of willingly aiding an exercise in public deceit.
And that action, regardless of how many media outlets or branches of government undertake it, will never cease to be contemptible.
>>>>Hey, obviously you have a strong opinion about this. I have an opinion the other way. I'm not commenting to demean your opinion, please understand I, like you, try to keep from doing that.
I am posting to ask a question that nobody with opinions matching yours has bothered to answer for me: What does it matter? It's not rhetorical, I seriously want to know what the scientific advantage of KNOWING which one is correct.
Like I said please don't misunderstand what I'm saying here, I seriously want to know. Please indulge, and good luck on finals!!!!
****Hrm- that's a question that's really hard to answer. In fact, it's one I hadn't really considered before- I tend to assume that limiting a fact as precisely as possible is always the best possible outcome. As far as science goes, that's generally the best description of its pursuits anyway. But it's hard to answer both because of the way science works and the way most folks' understanding of science works.
The scientific advantage to KNOWING if something is correct doesn't materialize- because in science, you never know for absolutely certain if something is correct. Because of the way proof functions, you can only prove something ISN'T true. Hence we have quantum theory, the wave theory of light, and the theory of relativity- all still theories, yet all used in ways large and small every day- including making my solar-powered watch function- but still theories nonetheless.
Facebook is griping at me because my reply is too long- should I continue in another note, or in a message?
>>>>Go ahead and continue in a message. I'm intrigued.
I guess all this theory stuff was never really my thing. Yay accounting.
****Sorry about the lack of reply so far- I'll message you after the Torts exam, okay?
****Okay, to pick up where I left off:
That leads to the second problem- perception. People want proof. People want to know. And saying that you have an answer- a real live honest-to-God certain proven answer- to a question is much more satisfying. That doesn't really happen in most science.
The issue here is really whether or not scientific truth in an area that doesn't immediately impact our lives is useful. And the answer is- not directly. If you want to think humans didn't evolve or that they were created in a certain way, then that isn't going to directly affect your life right away.
But it is going to affect what you think of as truth, as what is worth knowing, as what is significant. The germ theory of disease, the study of genetics, the tracing of mitochondrial proteins- all of these things have evolved from some form of evolutionary understanding, and all have some direct impact on human lives and human beings. But evolution itself? Not directly.
Evolution underpins a lot of things. Undertanding it has led to understanding a lot of other things- not only things about our relationship to the world around us and how its pressures affect us, but also understanding how certain internal mechanisms function exactly a certain way, and why things which seem to be really inefficient wound up the way they did. Again, it's a question of what is thought of as relevant. If you assume that the study of human origins teaches us a lot about how humans are now, then it's relevant. If you don't, it isn't.
The problem I have with the whole issue- like I wrote earlier- is with deliberate mislabeling. "Creation science" isn't science- it's a separate belief system that isn't subject to any of the checks required of scientific research. Asking that people respect a belief and a person's right to hold it is one thing; mislabeling it for the consumption of others who don't share it is something else again.
The rest is just a question of priority.
>>>>I see. Well thank you for being open with me about this without judging me. I am well aware that many people think I'm an idiot because I believe in Creationism, but it is refreshing to find someone I can discuss this with without arguing about it. You're awesome!
****I'm going to post the original note on my blog, and would like your permission to post our exchange on there as well- anonymously, as far as names go. Would that be okay with you?
>>>>Sure that's fine.
12/07/2006 at 19:00
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