Thursday, May 19, 2005

Abusing science

I'm stunned an disappointed about the vote in the house of commons today, and I'm tired of writing invective, so I'm passing on that subject - for the moment. I do have other interests and here are a few links about them. Micheal Ruse is a Darwinist that I have a soft spot for. He's no Christian but he does the good thing by picking nits with people who use Darwin to advance their political agenda / neo religion. Get Religion has a number of links, as Ruse has a new book out on the subject:
“This is not just a fight about dinosaurs or gaps in the fossil record,” says Ruse, speaking from his home in Florida. “This is a fight about different worldviews.” . . .Virtually every prominent Darwinian in recent decades has eschewed social Darwinism, and most believe that evolution itself, while responsible for the increased complexity of organic forms over time, cannot be regarded as a linear process driving toward a particular endpoint. But Ruse asserts that popular contemporary biologists like Edward O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins have also exacerbated the divisions between evolutionists and creationists by directly challenging the validity of religious belief — Dawkins by repeatedly declaring his atheism (”faith,” he once wrote, “is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate”), and Wilson by describing his “search for objective reality” as a replacement for religious seeking. All told, Ruse claims, loading values onto the platform of evolutionary science constitutes “evolutionism,” an outlook that goes far beyond the scientific acceptance of evolution as a means of explaining the origins and development of species. Provocatively, Ruse argues that evolutionism has often constituted a “religion” itself by offering “a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans,” while its proponents have been “trying deliberately to do better than Christianity.”
Also on the subject of abusing science for political gain is this story from Slate, about misleading a confused public over biotech issues like stem cells:
This is why the Times' terminology matters. I first noticed it on Feb. 10, when the Times declared, "Massachusetts Governor Opposes Stem Cell Work." I blinked. I had thought Romney supported stem cell research. I looked at the lede. It said he opposed "a type of embryonic stem cell research." What type? I read five paragraphs in vain. The sixth paragraph said he opposed "a type of embryonic stem cell research that many scientists consider extremely promising: research that involves creating human embryos specifically for scientific experimentation." I grinned at the "extremely promising" jab. Still, there was no mention that the research in question required embryo destruction. Maybe it wasn't cloning. Not until the 11th paragraph did that word surface.
On a slightly different note, but still on the topic of bias, have a look see at what Google has been up to.

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