Friday, June 08, 2007

Helpful Tips from PZ Myers: How To Build Trust In Scientists

One of the bloggers who commented on the article that was the subject of my last post was PZ Myers. He has this suggestion to help persuade those who are the so-called "science resisters" to trust scientists more:
Another tactic not mentioned, though, is that I think we also need to work to undermine the trust in the clergy. They are not qualified authorities, and in most cases they are anti-authorities who encourage belief in falsehoods. In this case, people like Ken Ham and various money-grubbing televangelists are our best friends; they are one of the levers we use to expose the rotten core of religion and the falsity of religious indoctrination, and help us to remove one corrupting influence on children's minds.

Notice all the great science he packs in one paragraph: attacking religion in the name of science, attacking clergy, guilt-by-association tactics, ad hominem argumentation, promotion of metaphysical beliefs and calling it "science," and at least a suggestion that scientists should interfere in parent-child relationships. Makes you want to run right out and trust a scientist, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Resistance to Science? Faith In Philosophical Materialism?

A recent article entitled "Why Do Some People Resist Science?" got a lot of comment in the blogosphere recently.

This post about it and many of the comments are worth a read.

I note one comment in particular:
They are playing with a very sharp sword that cuts both ways.

Using the other side of that sword, I have commented previously about possible reasons why people put so much faith in philosophical materialism that they refuse to follow the scientific evidence wherever it leads: here and here and here, and with an overview on worldviews here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The New York Times Coverage of the Guillermo Gonzalez Tenure Denial Story

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Did John Hauptman Admit That Academic Freedom Was Denied?

John Hauptman is a member of the Iowa State faculty, and below is a summary of his op-ed piece:
Intelligent Design is not science. Guillermo Gonzalez is a proponent of intelligent design. Therefore, we can deny tenure to him without violating his academic freedom.

Hauptman's idea of academic freedom is that you are allowed to pursue any idea, as long as it stays within the four corners of Hauptman's definition of science. This is patently not the definition of academic freedom accepted by the overwhelming majority of academics. If you take the standard, commonly accepted meaning of academic freedom and combine it with Hauptman's statements, you get a clear denial of that freedom.

Even if we accept his definition of science, for the sake of argument, it makes no difference. Academics explore interdisciplinary interests all the time. Even if you assert that ID is not science, the concepts involved are most definitely at the intersection of science and philosophy. These topics have been routinely pursued by other scientists such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Owen Gingerich, Simon Conway Morris, Paul Davies, Robert Jastrow, Francis Collins and many, many others.

What is clear is that, at Iowa State, only certain answers to these questions and issues are allowed.

In order to do science, you must have a philosophy of science. Philosophy of science is a recognized discipline. Hauptman's definition of science comes from his philosophy of science. Banning alternative philosophies of science is a denial of academic freedom.

Hauptman acknowledges that Gonzalez's science was great. His only complaint is that Gonzalez had a side interest that was not "science" as Hauptman defines it.

This was a blatant and obvious denial of academic freedom, and all people of good will should acknowledge it and condemn the actions of Iowa State University.