Thursday, May 31, 2007

Doggerel #93: "You're Not a Scientist!"

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

One of the things that's always annoying about this doggerel is that it demonstrates complete ignorance about what science is. Science is a method that anyone can employ. Scientists are just people who get more hands-on experimentation and swankier equipment. Science is not an ivory tower. Science is not a rigid hierarchy of priests and prophets. The validity of an argument is not dependent on the person who makes it. The validity of an experiment is not dependent on the person who performs it.

In logic, a valid argument is a valid argument. In science, an experiment performed under proper protocols is an experiment performed under proper protocols. It doesn't matter who makes the argument or performs the experiment. If I can cite an experiment your pet woo failed at, you'd better start criticizing the experiment and its protocols, not me, and not the scientist who performed it. After all, we're all irrelevant to the matter: An argument stands or fails on its own, so don't bother changing the subject by going off on irrelevant red herrings.

Aside from projection, I think the primary reason this doggerel comes up is because woos don't realize that big, funded woo with killer PR campaigns can be taken down by a single person pointing out a false premise in the foundation, sloppy experimental protocols, or inherent logical fallacies taking place between legitimate data and the woo conclusions. It only takes one child to point out that the emperor is naked.


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Infophile said...

I liked that illustration you gave in some previous Doggerel, which I think is very appropriate here as well: If Hitler walked into this room and made a valid argument, it would still be a valid argument.

It's just unfortunate that the truth of that isn't readily apparent. All too often I've seen illogic along the lines of "Maybe your argument would be valid if you were..."

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah. It's especially fun when I make an (obviously futile) effort to convince them that reality is *gasp* objective.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Sorry, way OT:

fyi WoMI is back and making rounds.

He showed up at PZ's place and I've seen Emanuel Goldstein at AtBC a number of times over the last few days....

I'm not 100% sure the drive by troll I've had recently is him, but It's highly possible.

The stupidity of his comments is right on par with WoMI's past communist atrocities = atheist fault spewings.

Bronze Dog said...

My measurements tend to be off when they're at high scales, but I think this guy's even stupider than WoMI.

Note: I haven't seen any Las Vegas IPs in my site traffic, so I doubt it's him. I can see where the confusion would come in.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

That's right he was from Vegas. Yep this guy had a Tx ip addy.