Pushing snake oil and using voodoo while calling it science

jccarlton is asking What Is “Science”. Between the videos and links that prompted the question and illustrate why it is a question, there is enough material to peruse to spend a day or two or more. The focus is on behaviors and how they reflect the quality of the ideas being presented. Behaviors can be observed and that means they can provide an objective insight into subjective bias and presenter issues.

It’s rather amazing that nobody points out the logical fallacies involved stating that the opposition HAS no arguments and are all “deniers” rather than actually addressing their supposedly false arguments. Somehow in all the debate, the side that says that they are on the side of “science” never seems to present any, well science.

We, as human beings want to trust that there’s somebody who knows more than we do. That trust though is often misplaced. The problem starts when other factors influence research. When there’s agenda driving things the science becomes yet another tool to push the politics to drive the agenda and get the desired policies. When the policies are the desired result, all you end up with is people in lab coats spouting nonsense.

The problem with the scientist as prophet scenario is that science is ultimately about discovery, not prediction. So when you treat science like a religion you are no longer dealing with discovery of what is, you are preaching what you want things to be. That’s not science, it’s using the appearance of science to legitimize your agenda.

The integrity of the activists and the media friends is never called into question. Though maybe it should be. Whether it’s creating a consensus about AGW or attacking a pesticide the activities of these people leaves a lot to be desired. But this was inevitable. Give power to people and the corruption and all it brings soon follows.

The problem is to separate the good from the bad. The power of seeming reason is a powerful tool when you are pushing snake oil. Add to that that much of what science is surrounded by jargon that may be impenetrable by outsiders seemingly. Which is actually the point. The problem is that all it takes is one bad study surrounded by all the trappings of authority to do tremendous amounts of harm.

The typical pronouncements that we see should peg our BS meters. Especially when, like Tyson and Nye strong language is used to suppress dissent and debate. If there is an effort to suppress argument, that’s your first huge clue that what you are getting is BS.

So how do you tell real science from hokum. Simple, you don’t allow anybody to keep you from asking questions.

One of the big issues to consider is not only how to distinguish between real and hokum but why nobody seems to care. The examples of AGW, GM foods, vector born disease, and vaccination are one thing. Having the two leading candidates in a national election having to testify about their potentially felonious acts is another.  There was some wondering when there was so much enthusiasm for a socialist despite the reality of history but it seems the concerns are almost in the noise. It seems other issues, the promise of the snake oil, has overwhelmed reason and integrity.

Comments are closed.