Pharyngula

Let’s be nice to bad science now

I have been chastised by William Connolley; he thinks I was too “strident” in condemning that lousy paper about Moses parting the sea with a fortuitous wind. I disagree, obviously. It was a bad paper, and I gave the reasons why it was so awful: it was poorly justified, it was not addressing an even remotely significant question, and the logic of the work and the conclusions was lacking. Connolley also doesn’t seem to understand why it is objectionable and serves an ideological purpose for the creationists. Yes, as I pointed out, finding natural causes makes miracles irrelevant, but that logic doesn’t matter. The point of this paper was very simple: to allow creationists to make the claim that science supports the truth of the Bible.

Right there, that defeats his claim that this work was “harmless”. I’d also add that this paper was remarkably widely publicized by the media everywhere, far more so than your typical obscure bit of part-time climate modeling work. Somebody should be countering this sloppy and contrived nonsense, and if we’re going to insist that cranky scientists give it a pass, who will? A credulous media? How bad does sloppy science need to be before it’s legitimate to criticize it? Or is it the case where once purported science becomes so absurd that we’re supposed to patronizingly overlook the pathetic clown who did it?

I guess that means I should just look away and not criticize this other paper that just turned up. It’s by Stuart Pivar, proponent of imaginary embryology, world’s greatest expert in the development and evolution of balloon animals, author of a failed lawsuit for $15 million against me, and persistent crank. He has managed to get himself published in a peer-reviewed journal.

But gosh, it’s harmless. It’s just another kook getting published in a science journal. Let’s all wink and look away and pretend it isn’t happening — we wouldn’t want to seem strident, after all. Closing our eyes to it all is the best response to bad science, I understand now.