Two other items caught my eye while I was slumming over at Town Hall. First, here's William Rusher warning us all about the pernicious influence of junk science:
As regular readers know, I seldom review books in these columns, preferring to leave that important job to professional reviewers. But every once in a while a book comes along that illuminates a major political problem so effectively that I cannot resist calling it to the attention of thoughtful readers.
What book would that be, Mr. Rusher?
That is the case with Tom Bethell's “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science,” recently published by Regnery.
Oh, come on. You knew that was coming. Let's look a bit further:
As Bethell points out in an introduction, science is forever being used, like everything else, to reinforce political viewpoints. Normally, an advocate using something to support his point of view is promptly countered, more or less effectively, by an opponent citing something else that contradicts it. The rest of us can listen, with the help of the media, and decide for ourselves which viewpoint is better supported and therefore deserves to be believed.
But, Bethell notes, “Scientists seem to enjoy a measure of immunity.” If a statement is made by a scientist in his professional capacity, non-scientists are afraid to contradict him. Even the media, whom we can usually count on to report opposing points of view, seldom look for information contradicting what a seemingly impartial scientist has declared to be the case.
Imagine that! When a scientist makes a statement regarding his field of expertise, non-experts are reluctant to contradict him. What a bunch of wusses! I think I'll try that attitude the next time I visit the doctor. “No, doctor, I shouldn't change my diet! You think you're medical degree means you know more about the human body than I do?”
Seriously, I always get a kick out of people who are perfectly happy to chalk up the vast scientific consensus on an issue like evolution (one of Rusher's examples) to ideological bias, and argue instead that a lone journalist is more reliable on the subject. What a nifty argument! Those tens of thousands of scientists on the other side, they're just a bunch of bigots who don't know what they're talking about. But this journalist here, he's the one who really knows the score!
But perhaps I'm being unfair. Rusher does cite another expert in defense of his view. That would be science fiction writer Michael Crichton. Gosh, I didn't realize Rusher had that level of intellectual firepower on his side.
At the end of the column, Rusher is identified as the author of How to Win Arguments. Why do I have the impression that forming your opinion based on a sober assessment of all the relevant facts is not one of the techniques he recommends?
Actually, though, Rusher's the least of it. Here's Ann Coulter defending Jerry Falwell's infamous statement regarding the causes of 9/11. You know, the one even Falwells' supporters try to distance themselves from:
Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.
Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9/11 that “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians -- who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle -- the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'”
First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and “the Reverend” Barry Lynn.
Second, Falwell later stressed that he blamed the terrorists most of all, but I think that clarification was unnecessary. The necessary clarification was to note that God was at least protecting America enough not to allow the terrorists to strike when a Democrat was in the White House.
(If you still think it isn't Christ whom liberals hate, remember: They hate Falwell even more than they hate me.)
I note that in Falwell's list of Americans he blamed for ejecting God from public life, only the gays got a qualifier. Falwell referred to gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle.
No Christian minister is going to preach that homosexuality is godly behavior, but Falwell didn't add any limiting qualifications to his condemnation of feminists, the ACLU or People for the American Way.
Folks, that's mainstream conservative commentary these days. Pleasant dreams.
Too true. One reason I really don't consider myself a mainstream conservative anymore.
Okay, this is just plain nuts:
I support the Bible, and I don?t want my children learning about Heliocentrism in school. I think this doctrine encourages atheism, Darwinism, and anti-Americanism. I don?t want my tax dollars going to finance this kind of false science. It?s complete rot, and I hope that those of us who come to realize this can ultimately prevail against its propogation amongst OUR children with the money from OUR salaries.
These people are absolutely insane. The next time the GOP has a debate, someone should ask them who does or doesn't believe in heliocentrism.
Re Tom Bethell
Mr. Bethell is a world class denier. He denies practically every current significant scientific theory, including the theory of relativity. Of course his understanding of these theories leaves much to be desired.
The next time the GOP has a debate, someone should ask them who does or doesn't believe in heliocentrism.
Ask first for a short definition, summary, or explanation of heliocentrism. I suspect that would be even more amusing...
And no reason to restrict the demonstration of stupidity to the GOBs. The Dements and other slugs--apologies to all the real gastropod mollusks--would seem to have an overwhelming number of idiots as well.
Imagine that! When a scientist makes a statement regarding his field of expertise, non-experts are reluctant to contradict him. What a bunch of wusses! I think I'll try that attitude the next time I visit the doctor. No, doctor, I shouldn't change my diet! You think you're medical degree means you know more about the human body than I do?
Excuse me, are you saying that they should just believe whatever the experts say? And here I thought that blind beliefs were just for the religious sheep.
We ought to encourage more skepticism and critical thinking, this is what science is really about. People should be critical of old books written by authors who didn't even have last names and of this month's bestseller, written by the latest expert PhD. They should be encouraged to learn about the experiments, understand the results, think about the arguments, and decide what is true for themselves. I'm pretty sure you know "experts" who don't have a clue, you wonder how much they paid for their degrees. Even geniuses make mistakes. Or would you start studying theology and alchemy just because Newton did it?