A politician who proposes politicizing a jury would rightly be pilloried by the court of public opinion and should never hold political office again. And yet the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, has been proposing to do this to scientists.
Under the terms of this deal, religion would be more humble about its teachings, acknowledging that they are sometimes wrong. When science confirms one of religion's guesses, it gives credit where credit is due for having "divined" the answer before it could be established beyond doubt.
What might any scientist, perhaps one like A. J. Bateman, who did a foundational study in sexual selection, have done to save himself from his likely mistakes? Bateman might have used a control experiment to test if the assumptions of his methods were met.
Could Bateman's influential conclusions about the lack of effect of mate number on reproductive success of mothers have been due to an undercount of the number of offspring mothers must have had? Our repetition proved that an unreliable method produced biased results.
It is well-known that women have curious powers to reduce men to hysteria or violence. Less well-known is the power of promiscuous female flies to reduce scientists to apparently self-deceptive blindness to scientific facts.
Some time in the past 25 or so years, scientific knowledge has become conflated with political and religious agendas, and these bedrock principles have been ignored -- not by scientists, but by the general public.
A logical deduction can tell you nothing that is not already embedded in its premises. All a logical deduction does is enable you to determine whether or not some conclusion is consistent with some set of premises.
Did you ever consider why the thing scientists do is called "research"? Where did the "re" come from? If it derives from "repeat," as some might suggest, then it is no surprise that the answer to that question really defines why science is what it is.
Both science and religion make use of educated guesses to create theories, devise rules and build models. The vast majority of these scientific and religious models are found wanting and must be revised or discarded.
While it really does little harm for people to be arrogantly ignorant about art, in the larger civic world we all share, toxic ignorance, false information, and highly subjective and biased knowledge can do much harm, both locally and globally.
The continuous attempts by various pseudosciences to gain respectability as scientific theories constitute, in my humble opinion, a clear and present danger. To understand the difference between genuine science and pseudoscience, let's examine the ingredients of the scientific method.
As a practical matter, we all must accept what experts tell us about fields we have not studied ourselves. It is very lazy, however, to say that all such instances are just acts of faith and therefore intellectually equivalent.
Stories about large snakes feed directly into an archetypal fear that humans have of snakes, and stories about a feeding frenzy of snakes wiping out wildlife fuels a feeding frenzy of media coverage that wipes out the truth.
When the fact of climate change becomes as evident to doubters as the orbit of the earth, perhaps we will learn from this colossal mistake of elevating opinion to the status of fact. If we are lucky enough, we will have another chance.