Science is Supposed to Welcome Dissension, Not Discourage It

posted by Richard, Jul 24, 2018

 

I’ve loved science ever since I was a little kid.

And not just science fiction, though I’m sure, like many budding scientists, it provided the initial shove. No, for me, it was Mr. Wizard’s World. It was Bill Nye the Science Guy. It was Carl Sagan.

When Cosmos released on VHS sometime in the mid-90s, I bought the set, lost them in a move, and subsequently bought them again. I still remember sitting in class fascinated the day we learned about different classifications of clouds, which might as well have been characters from Roman mythology as far as I was concerned. Ah, lovely Cirrus, stealthy Stratus, mighty Cumulonimbus

Yep, clouds. That’s one nerdy kid, right there.

Even my tenth-grade biology teacher, with his droning, insectile voice and interminable blackboard notes, could not dissuade my love of science. In college, the day I found out I could do so, I promptly changed my major from Philosophy to History and Philosophy of Science. Suddenly I was writing papers about Einstein, time travel paradoxes, and wormholes, pretty convinced I had discovered just about the coolest subject ever. When I turned in my final paper on the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics, I was pretty certain I was setting the scientific world on its ear. (I wasn’t. But that’s a sad story for another day).

So, I find it a little more than disturbing lately, in medias both traditional and social, the concept of “science” being used as a bludgeon.

Science, we are told, is now the end of an argument, as in: “I’m right, because Science.”

This bothers me. A lot. Continue reading Science is Supposed to Welcome Dissension, Not Discourage It

I’m Not Left or Right or Center, or Any Other Damn Direction—And Here’s Why

I came across this wonderful Tweet from Michael Krieger the other day, and thought I’d share:

Amen. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

But I can certainly say more 🙂 Continue reading I’m Not Left or Right or Center, or Any Other Damn Direction—And Here’s Why

7 Things Wrong With the Climate Debate

  1. The refusal to acknowledge that there is a debate

There is a debate.

There is not much disagreement about the fact that climate changes. There are rather large and ongoing disagreements, however, on at least the following points:

  •             -whether natural cycles and variations contribute to climate change, and how much.
  •             -whether human activity and CO2 contribute to climate change, and how much.
  •             -whether climate change is a world-ending threat, or not.
  •             -whether climate change might actually be beneficial, or not.
  •             -whether to use forceful means to curb CO2 emissions, or whether to drive the push toward cleaner emissions through the marketplace.

Etc.

If we view each of these positions as a spinner on a combination lock we end up with a number of different “combinations”. For example, one person might believe: Continue reading 7 Things Wrong With the Climate Debate

Should We Fear the Future? The Case Against Cowering

 

“There’s a lot of scary stuff going on right now.”

Yep. I’ve heard some version of that from friends, colleagues, and family members pretty much my whole adult life.

Hey, they’re not wrong. Fanatical terrorism, genocidal wars, every Western government in the world going bankrupt (seemingly at once), the banking system and stock market on the verge of collapse, the spread of super-diseases, the industrialization and poisoning of the food supply, loopy fascist maniacs on the verge of being elected…

Here’s what’s certain: the world will look very different in ten years. Maybe sooner.

Does that mean we should just curl into a ball and wait for the end?

Maybe.

But let’s consider a few things first, shall we? Continue reading Should We Fear the Future? The Case Against Cowering

Sure, Religion is Comforting. But So What?

I’ve had many religious friends over the years and many of them seem extraordinarily happy. The ones I’ve stayed close to don’t push their religion on me. But they do encourage me to join their way of thinking, if only so I can join in all the good feelings.

Here’s the problem…

To a freethinker, religion is like poking out your eyes because you think you’ve seen enough.

It is like pouring concrete into your ears because you think you’ve heard enough.

It is like lobotomizing yourself because you think you know enough.

You’ve read all the books you need ever read–namely, one.

You’ve got all the answers you’ll ever need.

You are happy.

I understand this. There is immense comfort in a feeling of certainty. Even joy. The joy of letting go. Of surrendering. And of belonging–of knowing others think the way you do. Continue reading Sure, Religion is Comforting. But So What?