Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reaping the benefits of science while hostile to science

So I read with some interest an article by Adam Frank espousing the idea of removing the benefits of science from those who deny science. He starts with examples like “alien visitations to the healing power of eskimo rituals”, and states that there is “no price for them to pay for believing” in these ridiculous things. “They still enjoy the fruits of science, from iPads to modern medicine, even as they profess belief in ideas without any sound basis.” Further, “Science is not a lunch buffet. Yes, the individual results on small, focused issues like the coffee-bad/coffee-good debate may flip back and forth. When research domains mature into overarching paradigms, however, its time to take notice.” Finally, “Don't pick and choose between the science you like and the ones you deny. Chose between science and no science at all.

Hand in your cell phones, please.”

I’ve stated this before, in the form of removing medical treatment for those who refuse vaccines. I am never completely serious, but it is frustrating to see the dichotomy.

The issue I have with this article is one that I’ve written on before here and more here: he focusses on the comparison between evolution denial and climate denial. It really drives me nuts! I am not entirely convinced by the climate data that the situation is as dire as is claimed. I am not sure whether the climate scientists have provided a clear enough picture, without distortion, cherry-picking, and exaggeration. I don’t have to deny all of physics, chemistry, and biology to hold this position as creationists have to do. Perhaps I’m what is sometimes called a luke-warmist, but even on its best days climate science is nowhere close to as well supported as evolution.

Enough! Stop comparing global warming deniers to evolution deniers. It’s a bad comparison, and extremely misleading.