David Berlinski on Science, Scientists, and Darwinism
|February 5, 2008||Posted by GilDodgen under Darwinism, Science|
I thought UD readers might enjoy some of his other comments on various science and Dawinism topics.
On science as a self-critical enterprise:
The idea that science is a uniquely self-critical institution is of course preposterous. Scientists are no more self-critical than anyone else. They hate to be criticized… Look, these people are only human, they hate criticism — me too. The idea that scientists are absolutely eager to be beaten up is one of the myths put out by scientists, and it works splendidly so they can avoid criticism.
We’re asking for standards of behavior that would be wonderful to expect but that no serious man does expect. A hundred years of fraudulent drawings suggesting embryological affinities that don’t exist — that’s just what I would expect if biologists were struggling to maintain a position of power in a secular democratic society. Let’s be reasonable… the popular myth of science as a uniquely self-critical institution, and scientists as men who would rather be consumed at the stake rather than fudge their data, is okay for a PBS special, but that’s not the real world; that’s not what’s taking place…
On Darwinism and power:
One of the reasons that people embrace Darwinian orthodoxy with such an unholy zealousness, is just that it gives them access to power. It’s as simple as that: power over education, power over political decisions, power over funding, and power over the media.
On appraising Darwinian theory (in particular, incremental gradualism and random changes filtered by natural selection):
…appraising Darwinian theory in the context that realistically portrays it for what it is: a kind of amusing 19th century collection of anecdotes that is utterly unlike anything you see in the serious sciences… Yeah, biologists do agree that this is the correct theory for the origin and diversification of life — BUT, here are some points you should consider as well: 1) the theory doesn’t have any substance to it, 2) it’s preposterous, 3) it’s not supported by the evidence, 4) the fact that biologists are uniformly in agreement could as well be explained by some solid Marxist interpretation of their economic interests.
On the reaction of Darwinists to criticism:
When people haven’t been criticized in a long time they react with a great deal of indignation when they’re criticized for the first time. It’s human nature. Put yourself in the position of a Daniel Dennett or a Richard Dawkins who are used to being the regnant priests of a powerful orthodoxy, and for the first time in their lives someone says, “Hey, you guys are simply not credible.” Of course they’re going to react with outrage and indignation, hurl imprecations at others, resort to objurgations…