Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The enemies of good science

A lot of science bloggers call themselves "skeptics", and are always on the warpath against religion (like Christianity) and pseudoscience (like homeopathy). I am more concerned with bad thinking that corrupts otherwise-intelligent scholars. Here are my main targets.

Paradigm shifters - They subscribe to T.S. Kuhn's theory that science is all a big popularity contest, with new theories winning out without any rational or measurable advantages, and never making progress towards truth.

Proof deniers - They fail to appreciate that a mathematical proof can give certain knowledge.

Goedel fools - They argue that math lacks solid foundations because of some technical logic theorems.

Einstein idolizers - They treat Einstein as a god, and learn all the wrong lessons from the history of relativity and the Bohr debates.

Thought experimenters - They endlessly speculate about a black hole interior, or universes before the big bang, or quantum gravity, or other questions outside the domain of observable science.

Falsifiers - They deny that science teaches us anything, except that older theories have been

Dreamers of imaginary worlds - They like to invent fantasy worlds, and put them out under names like the multiverse, many worlds interpretation, and strings in higher dimensions.

Hidden variable searchers - These are always telling us that quantum mechanics is incompatible with realism because it fails to identify the hidden variables that will unlock all the mysteries of the universe.

Publicity panderers - They will say whatever gets media attention, such as fantastic claims for quantum communication and computers.

Political correctness enforcers - On an assortment of topics (global warming, evolution, human biodiversity, etc), they are more interested in silencing their enemies than promoting scientific truth.


  1. Banker Idiots: "How will [resources allocated to fundamental science] promote growth in the next 3 months?" Duh, it won't you bleeping idiot.

    Politician Imbeciles: "The scientists must be held accountable for lack of productivity"....Duh, nature isn't some bottomless pit for innovation you bleeping imbeciles.

    Publisher Retards: "We can't accept your paper because it doesn't adhere to accepted theory"...Duh, stupid me, I thought science was a place where a paper was judged on its merit, and not a follow the leader or else get canned batch of cults.

    and on and on...

  2. If you are working with stacked assumptions (Drakes equation, CAGW, Big Bang ad nausea) all the complicated math in the universe can't help you, or hide the fact that you are quantifying hot air to umpteen degrees of precision.
    As for the meme of how 'Science is being done like a 'popularity contest'... well, it is, sorry to burst your bubble, you yourself are fond of poking at Einstein for that very reason. Look at all the crap that is done in the name of getting a pathetic paper published, and look at what is being passed off as precious 'peer review' these days. If you are trying to say 'what science should be', I'm with you, If you are talking about how it's practiced...well, not so much. Math is a language, Science is a style guide, you can commit all manner of ridiculous nonsense or contradiction with them if you are trying to, in other languages we call this 'fiction' or less politely 'bullshit'. The attempt to put science on a unique pedestal and say it isn't just as political or riddled with misunderstanding and deception as any other human endeavor is just plain hubris. Honestly, in reality the engineers have to be far more honest and have greater integrity than the mathematicians or physicists because engineers can't build bullshit that actually works, and if they try to they get fired, they don't get awards, medals, and grants congratulating them on creating a contradiction or paradox with more logical loopholes than Swiss cheese.

  3. Tracking on this, but then I saw this about "quantum communication" which you include within the pantheonic list:

    "Most advances have been made in the area of quantum communication. Here, the security of the information transferred between the sender and receiver is guaranteed by quantum physics, by making the presence of a malicious eavesdropper inevitably detectable by the communicating parties. Most notably, the technology has been used for bank transfers (in Vienna, 2004), Swiss elections (in Geneva, since 2007) and the FIFA World Cup video feeds (Durban, 2010)"

    (source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/384055/scitech/science/quantum-physics-made-simple-by-a-pinay-physicist)

  4. I looked up the 2007 Swiss voting, and Nature mag said that it a publicity stunt, as the election used paper ballots.