Agnostic.com

21 2

I have recently come across a growing body of negativity towards science and scientists. There appear to be a growing number of people that feel the scientific community are in some way corrupt and/or dishonest; this goes beyond the usual 'big pharma' and climate change skepticism, and is aimed at all science.

I am curious to know if anybody here holds those opinions, and would like to know why. I am not looking to argue or change minds, I would genuinely like a dispassionate explanation if possible please.

By Rufus_Maximus7
Actions Follow Post Like

Post a comment Add Source Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account

21 comments

Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.

6

I sympathize with ya. When did "science" suddenly become a bad word?

5

Do you mean outside this group? The current climate in the States seems to be positively anti scientific, and I feel the USA has really shot itself in the foot. Much of their leading position in science was due to young folks from all over the planet hankering to get an education or science position in the states. Trump has turned that around. Already, I hear through the grapevine, young Asians are looking to prestigious universities and such closer to home in Singapore, India, maybe Thailand ... even China. Just yesterday the list of words to not to be used by the Department of Disease Control: fetus, transgender, vulnerability, entitlement, fact-based, and science-based. Well, good luck to them if they are supposed to ditch science- based. I think in all the mish mash of cries of "fake news" where there were none, and genuine misinformation, many people have lost trust ... in anything but "their" bubble of thought or first hand experience.

ZebZaman Level 6 Dec 17, 2017

Well said guess a few of us to really understand what is happening in the science community.

4

Wow! 10 comments and not a single unbiased user here has mentioned the publish-or -perish fueled shortcuts being taken in research, or the criminal (IMHO) editing of raw pharma data by company lawyers and execs, and the rampant charges of plagiarism. These factors must be at least a part of why science is under suspicion! Today's science has a little owning up to do.

andygee Level 7 Dec 18, 2017

Do you have a point? What is your proposed alternative to science? Bolt-of-lightning inspiration? Divine revelation? What? You might be missing a vital factor of what constitutes science. Science is not a single research process. The strength in science is that it is a community process that absolutely requires factual critique and criticism. Research that makes headlines is the initial step, but it isn't validating until multiple follow up studies have replicated results and until there has been extensive questioning and critiquing and search for methodology problems, etc. from the scientific community at large. Science is a process always open to revision and correction. That is its strength. Once you think you have THE answer, you close your mind to any further learning or any deepening of insight.

The war on science in the U.S. is absolutely being waged by religious interests and, in targeted ways, by greedy corporate power interests that simply don't want to be accountable to the public for the damage they cause and who therefore see scientists as their potential whistle-blowers and as threats to their unchecked power aspirations. Don't be their lackey.

The publish-or-parish University tenure-track fiasco is a valid concern, but it is a side issue to the point of this post.

@MikeInBatonRouge Why would I want to replace science? It is the most valuable tool we have for pretty much anything. When people work it correctly. People die, you know, when it is used improperly. Scientific research should be like Caesar's wife, above reproach. That really doesn't take much you know. Make sure your notebooks and raw data remain available. don't select journal articles for their potential popular press wow-factor. Stuff like that.

Andygee, so glad to be wrong, but when you say "Today's science has a little owning up to do" and cast dispersions on scientist motives, it does sound like that. There is just as much quality science happening now as in many earlier years, it's just that it's getting tarnished by the fake science and pseudoscience that is also out there. If, for example, Creation "science" advocates wish to confuse the public about science by vomiting out loads of fake conclusions wrapped in pretend scientific form, it's not the scientists' fault; it's the fault of the anti-scientists. Yet, the creation science promoters succeed in getting a lot of simple people to think "See? Science can't be trusted," as if science is claiming to offer divine revelation or something. The smear tactic is disturbingly effective. Your comments, though apparently unintentionally, seem to do little to clarify the source of this anti-science problem. Don't blame actual scientists.

@MikeInBatonRouge well said it is very hard to tell what is good science and what is just out there may not be quality scientific method for the statements that are made. I have a difficult time figuring out what is fact and what is fiction.

@MikeInBatonRouge I suggested that some of the problem is self-inflicted: race to publish, profit, and cribbing when you think the teacher isn't looking. I will add the fact that Journals are biased toward spectacular findings, even if there is other work trying to get published which has more merit but less spectacular conclusions. But to address your point, science has always been at war with chicanery and smoke an mirrors. Why should today be different? And @dc65 My general rule is when a discipline can use a different discipline's research results, then the different disciplines research is real science. I'm basing this on having followed an anthropology fight w/r/t the the timing of the Out of Africa hypothesis between old-DNA researchers, modern-DNA researchers, and one guy who was timing the event by rates of phoneme migration. This was not FB stuff, this was real peer-reviewed journals.

4

That is because their pastors and Imams and rabbis are telling them that science is just a theory and guesses. I have two brothers who became Muslims and the rest of my family are Christians and I have friends who are Jewish. Some of them believe that the earth is flat, some of them argue about how old the earth is(6000 years old according to them). They do not believe anything that has to do with science. Brainwashing at its best,

noworry28 Level 8 Dec 17, 2017
2

I taught science 30 yrs, I remember Armstrong landing on the moon, the first heart transplant, when science was honored. Today science is non honored, too often discounted. Climate change is real but capitalists who fear loss of $ because of climate change just deny it. smile003.gif Pity the children.

Gary4234 Level 5 Dec 18, 2017
2

Money... the great corrupter. Haven't you noticed how easy humans sell out their soul? Scientists are not the exception. We are told about the great find 40 years ago... gave you cancer 15 years later but you don't find out in another 20 years... maybe. There are rumors of more efficient engines invented and patent bought out to stop the production same thing heard of batteries for electrical cars... more efficient and smaller in size and will not get manufactured. Remember scientists gave us Nuclear and Hydrogen bombs. Why should we trust all of them? There are Good and there are Bad and there those Without a Clue what the Hell they are Doing. With my respects to the profession.

2

I would certainly hope no one here feels that way, but apparently andygee does.

The war on science has been growing for several decades and is a real corrosive force in American culture. I think what spearheads it is not religion, but it is corporate and political greed for power. Education and knowledge in the public at large is seen as a threat to Machiavellian types who want to dupe the public. Science is the whistle-blower force to these cretins, and they therefore target it and demonize it to the American public. Religion becomes probably their most convenient and powerful weapon for convincing people to mistrust science. But religion is merely the servant of greed for power.

2

These people are the ones who have become such rapid true believers that they have given over control of their rationality to truly evil, controlling and manipulative demagogues and their malevolent ideology. These are troubling times.

wordywalt Level 8 Dec 17, 2017
2

@Rufus_Maximus - You discovered this recently? Where have you been, man? There has been a continuous struggle between belief/faith and science since science began to take hold in our world. As the methodology progressed, the chasm between faith and science deepened. Granted, it has never been more pronounced than it is today, but it has had its ups and downs along the way since Charlie introduced his Origin of the Species.

A sharp turn upward occurred in the gradually increasing line of resistance to science in the mid seventies, then a distinct kink appeared in its rise when one Ronald Reagan took the throne and what evangelicals existed at the time (then mainly Southern Baptists and other Bible Belt denominations) were emboldened by their newest savior. The rise has been exponential since the 1980s. Today we are on the edge of outright fervor/panic as the End Times are upon us. There are people preparing for the Tribulation and others cashing in on the panic by selling the goods needed to endure until the Rapture comes.

To clarify; I live in the UK where throughout my life the sciences have held a place of reasonable respect, even amongst religious communities. The Church of England, for example, has long held the position that evolution is the root of biodiversity and the 7 day creation is not literal. I have, however been aware that in nations like the US things weren't smooth.

Unfortunately here in the UK we have suddenly seen an upswing towards distrust of the sciences. I lecture at a respected University, and have actually had to deal with engineering students that are leery of science!

@Rufus_Maximus - Ah, yes. I failed to check your locale. Now I understand. Yes, I've been watching the rise of fundamentalism in the UK. Quite disturbing.

2

I feel it is part of a bigger picture. More people are becoming disalosion with science, governments, school, church and so on. We have never had so much information at our fingertips however it as never been so easy to prove what you want to believe no matter how silly it could be. Thinking the flat earthers movement as a point in case. They think they know the truth that the world is flat. They believe everyone is out to convince them they are wrong. Government, science ect.

1

There is definitely a war on science to undermine the public's respect for factual knowledge and the scientific process. The motives are two-fold. First are the greedy industries that want free rein to rape the planet without accountability. Obviously science calls them out for their crimes. Thanks to the power of highly financed corporate lobbying, there is a powerful power base from which to destroy respect for science so those industrialists can operate unfettered and not be made to repair their destructive messes.

Second is the nut-job religious, who see in science a threat to unquestioning devotion to religious authority. This second group is easily duped by the first group, and they don't even understand the most basic elements of the scientific process. Science is not "ultimate Truth," with all the moralizing value judgments that entails. They look for concrete absolute unchanging truth and so see in the rough edges of scientific discovery the chance to slam science for "not having all the answers," as if religion really did. The notions of incremental building of the scientific store of knowledge or of the essential role of peer review, requirement of follow up testing and openness to revision of understanding ...These aspects seem to fundies to be weaknesses to attack, rather that the strengths they really are.

I blame religion for this ignorance, but even more I blame the cynical Machiavellian manipulations of power-hungry, greedy corporate leaders who are NOT ignorant but ARE more than happy to exploit the ignorance of the devoutly religious by tricking them with their gullible faith into attacking science and thereby letting corporate greed off the hook.

1

I've seen a similar "rise", though I wonder if I've just been noticing it more readily now that I'm pursuing a scientific degree. As far as I can tell, the distrust ultimately falls back on a religious argument that the "natural man" is corrupt and anything that goes against "God's word" is influenced by Satan. Given that most scientists are atheists and their findings contradict religious accounts of such things as the flood and the creation, it is assumed that scientists seeking fame and fortune are leading a counter-religious assault of sorts.

Now, there are certainly problems with inherent biases influencing results, the need to question funding sources, the make-or-break mentality in publishing, and even the way we determine results to be publishable (the huge focus on the p-value being <0.5), but even with these problems, the scientific method is the most reliable source of truth-finding out there. We cannot consider it infallible, and we should always recognize that there are flaws and areas for improvement, but regarding scientific findings with skepticism should not lead us away from science and the scientific method entirely.

Falcopex Level 4 Dec 18, 2017
1

I would say knowledge, critical thinking and rationality in general are under attack in the US and all around the world. The many intelligent posts on this thread already made the point that religion and greed rely on ignorance to succeed but one of the most telling facts is that believing a college education is actually BAD has grown to 52% among republicans.

kmdskit3 Level 8 Dec 18, 2017
1

I think it's the political and religious leaders who are urging this on, because it supports their views. Everyone else are just sheep, following what they're told to follow.

MrLizard Level 8 Dec 17, 2017
0

There is definitely a war on science to undermine the public's respect for factual knowledge and the scientific process. The motives are two-time. First are the greedy industries that want free rein to rape the planet without accountability. Obviously science calls them out for their crimes. Thanks to the power of highly financed corporate lobbying, there is a powerful power base from which to destroy respect foe science so those industrialists can operate unfettered and not be made to repair their destructive messes.

Second is the nut-job religious, who see in science a threat to unquestioning devotion to religious authority. This second group is easily duped by the first group, and they don't even understand the most basic elements of the scientific process. Science is not "ultimate Truth," with all the moralizing value judgments that entails. They look for concrete absolute unchanging truth and so see in the rough edges of scientific discovery the chance to slam science for "not having all the answers," as if religion really did. The notions of incremental building of the scientific store of knowledge or of the essential role of peer review, requirement of follow up testing and openness to revision of understanding ...These aspects seem to fundies to be weaknesses to attack, rather that the strengths they really are.

I blame religion for this ignorance, but even more I blame the cynical Machiavellian manipulations of power-hungry, greedy corporate leaders who are NOT ignorant but ARE more than happy to exploit the ignorance of the devoutly religious by tricking them with their gullible faith into attacking science and thereby letting corporate greed off the hook.

0

I'm a scientist in the US and I'm here to sign up for the updates on this thread. There are many things involved in distrust of science, in my opinion, but I don't want to share it just yet. I would like to hear from the doubting side as well. Thank you for this post

Blizzard Level 7 Dec 24, 2017
0

This trend towards anti-science seems to have two many sources, one being the fore mentioned evangelical christians that feel it threatens the hold on their sheep.
The other is far worse it is the prevention of science to serve corporatism and consumerism. This could spell the end of pure science and its reliance on evidence since its sole goal becomes the profit motive. This one unlike the other is not confined to the US, Britain and Canada where social conservatives are gaining power, it is worldwide.

0

Science is real. USA is too science illiterate. USA doesn't honor science. USA is a laughing stock at present because of our ignorance and lack of honor. We used to be great ...not now.

Gary4234 Level 5 Dec 21, 2017
0

Scientist today are paid for their results...therefore, they cannot be trusted. In our Universities we are still testing the results of smoke inhalation on dogs, Beagles are a favorite. These tests have been repeatedly funded by the government. Big problem there! I was taught if I want to read a finding, I ought to research who FUNDED it first.

Esmarelda Level 3 Dec 18, 2017

Hey, scientists have to eat, too.

Just curious, what is wrong exactly with being paid for doing work? There are of course people who are not honest with their research, and it makes its way to general public ( aka vaccines cause autism claims), but it does eventually get retracted, thrown out, and people publishing it get into serious trouble. That's a beauty of peer review. If someone makes a claim, it will be either supported or thrown out by other groups! Next, funding. Most health sciences are funded by NIH grants what's the problem with that? Even if a study is funded by a pharma company, they still have to go through the same peer review process to be published, and if they want to carry their work into clinical trials FDA gets involved, and it's very hard to get through FDA hurdles. Next, animal models. Would you rather smoke inhalation was tested on people? Dogs have a very similar to people respiratory system, so this model makes sense. It will save countless lives with those results.

The problem with paid research is that once a biased report is let out into the public domain, people take it as truth. If it is later repudiated the damage is already done. With Animal testing there are two problems. 1. We already know that nicotine causes cancer. 2. These Universities repeat the test that have already been proven correct in order to spend more government money. Animal testing is barbaric and we don't need to test on humans, because they test on themselves. Monkeys do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in the wild, but many humans do. Keep in mind that when many of these test are done, specifically rat testing, the Animal is given extremely high doses at a rate humans would not consume. Sometimes more than any human could consume in a lifetime. Paid scientific results corrupt the Scientific Process.

0

My thought is: 'Why do so many mer,cains reject science'

My original answer of: 'Cause they is all thick' doesn't work anymore.

(English 'thick' = Mer,cain 'dumb'smile009.gif

El-loco Level 7 Dec 18, 2017
0

I have been watching a lots of things in the USA that show a discrimination against science. The only reason I look is because we have the same thing here and worse. Our previous Prime Minister often referred to as "the Mad Monk" did not appoint a science minister, halved the funding to out National Scientific Program, is a climate change denier, also the greatest opposition to marriage equality here, and pushed so hard to have a school chaplaincy program, non religious counselors were not allowed under this program. Our current Prime Minister seems to be almost the same guy, just a different face a wider smile. We did have a first female Prime Minister a few years ago, I didn't like her personally nor many of her policies. But the attacks on her were all for being unmarried and an atheist. Science to me is the pursuit of knowledge, if a hypothesis is dis proven, it is scrapped and another sought. It is a pity the same rules don't apply to religion, law and politics.

Rugglesby Level 8 Dec 18, 2017
Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text 'q:8928'.
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content read full disclaimer.
  • Agnostic.com is a non-profit community for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics and others!