Monday, May 14, 2007

Doggerel #84: "Elitist"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

A lot of woos like to complain that science is 'elitist' and inaccessible to the common man. Fortunately, science is an enterprise that anyone can engage in, though some of the trickier tools may not be available for ethical concerns. Contrary to the way Hollywood presents science, it isn't all about microscopes, test tubes, and strangely colored liquids: It's about using critical thinking and the tools at our disposal to figure things out. The quick and dirty description of the scientific method: 1. Form a hypothesis. 2. Do everything you can think of to prove your hypothesis wrong.

It's that simple. The reason cranks, quacks, and woos get excluded isn't because of what they claim: It's because they're sloppy. With sloppy protocols, alternate explanations get in, and we can't sort out which one is the real reason. Because science is a method, the scientific community is inherently a meritocracy: The people who do the best work are the ones who move up the ranks.

Take the Intelligent Design movement: They essentially do no research. They avoid defining their terms whenever they can get away with it. They move goal posts. They attempt to build their case by tearing down evolution's, rather than perform research that supports their hypothesis. They focus entirely on public perception, rather than getting their hands dirty getting to the guts of their subject. Those are the reasons the vast majority of the scientific community rejects ID: It's not because of their claim, it's because of their lack of research, and consequently, their lack of evidence: the ID movement hasn't even gotten to the point of defining what evidence would support or falsify their hypothesis.

A position should be measured by its merits, and a sure sign of woodom is the rejection of merit, followed by a demand for automatic inclusion in the meritocracy.


Doggerel Index

1 comment:

Infophile said...

...the ID movement hasn't even gotten to the point of defining what evidence would support or falsify their hypothesis.

Hmm, I do remember one notorious troll who said that a replica of all of Earth running for many million years which did indeed generate structures ID said evolution couldn't (ie. flagella) would falsify ID. Unfortunately, I don't see any IDists getting off their asses to actually do this. All they seem to do is argue that we should be the ones to do so.