Friday, May 28, 2010

Scientific impotence

Political correctness of all varieties holds that whereas facts and logic are negotiable, dogma is not. When someone brings up facts countering a particular dogma, the true believers often pretend not to have heard, flatly assert that those facts must be wrong, or engage in a blatant logical fallacy (e.g., "That offends me, so you mustn't bring it up.")

Sometimes, however, the facts become so blatant that not even the truest true believer can use any of those tactics with a straight face. To that end, they have developed another tactic usable against science, which a researcher has termed "scientific impotence." That is, they simply declare that science just doesn't apply:
What Munro examines here is an alternative approach: the decision that, regardless of the methodological details, a topic is just not accessible to scientific analysis. This approach also has a prominent place among those who disregard scientific information, ranging from the very narrow—people who argue that the climate is simply too complicated to understand—to the extremely broad, such as those among the creationist movement who argue that the only valid science takes place in the controlled environs of a lab, and thereby dismiss not only evolution, but geology, astronomy, etc.
Of course, scientific impotence holds across the board. While creationists say that the theory of evolution is not scientific (according to their screwy redefinitions of "theory" and "scientific"), they are not alone. Anti-science fanatics of the left love to say that science (as opposed, say, to postmodernism) has no applicability to the real world. One such person parroted that line and soon thereafter asked me how his new toy, a laser printer, worked.

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