Skip to comments.Does Science Have a Magisterium?
Posted on 12/10/2009 4:24:15 PM PST by GodGunsGuts
At National Review Online, conservative curmudgeon John Derbyshire has weighed in on the Climategate scandal by encouraging conservatives not to jump on the anti-science bandwagon. I share his worry and find his advice is good so far as it goes; but I think Derbyshire’s defense of science might actually encourage the skepticism he wants to prevent. Most of the trouble comes from his invocation of the word “science,” and his claim that science has a magisterium.
His article is called “Trust Science.” I’m not sure what that means. What is “science,” and how do we “trust” it? Imagine if someone said: “Trust philosophy” or “Trust humanities” or “Trust religion.” The command in each case is far too vague to inspire confidence. “Science” isn’t a person or a finite set of propositions that can be tested or divine revelation. It’s not even a single institution. So how exactly do you trust it?
What we should trust is solid conclusions derived from valid reasoning based on publicly available empirical evidence, especially when it leads to reliable resultssuch as getting your 737 from Seattle to New York. But the abstract noun “science” is too vaporous to capture that. Perhaps “science at its best” would be a better substitute.
A related problem is that Derbyshire appeals to a scientific magisterium: “Science contains a core magisterium, which we can and do trust.” This should give anyone who has followed the climate change debate the creepsa reaction Derbyshire anticipates in the column. But he seems blind to why talk of a scientific magisterium is creepy; so let me spell it out.
Other than listing the things Derbyshire thinks are settled and “without serious competitors,” he doesn’t really even identify what the magisterium is. This gives the impression that the magisterium is the subjectively determined list of things that people with power claim are settled. And that impression encourages the postmodern doubters of truth that Derbyshire hopes to keep back from the gates.
Science is different from the Catholic Church, which has a magisterium. This refers to the settled teaching authority of the Church, based on Scripture, the divine traditions reliably passed down from the apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, and represented in the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome. And even this magisterium is only considered infallible under certain narrow circumstances. Although the Catholic explanation of the magisterium is subtle, the basic teachings of Catholicismand the distinctions between negotiable and non-negotiable teachingsare contained in texts such as the Catechism. The magisterium is easily identified with a single institution, which one is free to trust or not to trust.
But science has none of that, and doesn’t claim to. It’s not a single institution. It doesn’t claim to be based on divine revelation or be guided by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t have a priesthood or a central authority. It doesn’t even have a settled body of teachings. Science isn’t, and ought not to be, a surrogate religion.
Of course, most of what we believe to be scientifically verified truth is based on the testimony of scientists, textbooks, and journalists. In fact, most of what we all believe about most things is based on testimony. That’s okay. But anyone with a passing acquaintance with the history of science knows that every age has had a reigning intellectual orthodoxy or orthodoxies, declared to be “settled science” (a term Derbyshire summons) that were later seen to be erroneous. It doesn’t follow that because most scientists believe something to be true, or hold to a “consensus,” it ought to be doubted. Sometimes there are well-founded consensuses. But if you have good reason to be suspicious of a claim made by scientists, including lots of scientists, then you’re not under an intellectual obligation to submit to it.
In fact, no one appeals to consensus on the really solid stuff. Have you ever heard anyone cry consensus when talking about the Periodic Table of the Elements? More often than not, “consensus” is used to intimidate and silence dissenters. A scientific magisterium sounds like consensus-on-steroids, and brings to mind the big, state-funded “science” of which philosophers of science like Michael Polanyi have rightly been suspicious. It’s reminiscent of the way the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is often invoked to silence debate about the causes of climate change.
Derbyshire is right that no one, conservative or not, should infer from the collusion and evidence manipulation of leading climate scientists that science is just one more political power trip. But in light of Climategate and the previously known shenanigans confirmed by the scandal, it’s up to scientists and the journalists who serve as their megaphones to rise to the defense of science at its bestscience based on solid, publically available evidence, valid arguments, and reasonable conclusions. We’ll see if they do that. In the meantime, invoking the authority of a scientific magisterium looks too much like an extreme form of an appeal to consensus, which may be one of the reasons for public skepticism in the first place.
I trust science without reservation - I’m not too trusting of some scientists or their conclusions though!
“Science” is whatever the party says it is.
I trust science. It is the scientist which I do not trust.
This applies just as much to AIDS skeptics and Creationists/IDers as it does climate science...or any other scientific endeavor for that matter.
Politically motivated lies spread by Al Goracle -no.
There are too many of those concentrating on Climate Studies at present.
They need to be purged, willingly or not.
Trust Science, but don’t trust a scientist with a finger in the financial pie.
SEE: Phil Jones, who admits he isnt allowed to admit that the Earth actually cooled from 1998 - 2005:
From: Phil Jones
To: John Christy
Subject: This and that
Date: Tue Jul 5 15:51:55 2005
There has been some email traffic in the last few days to a week - quite a bit really, only a small part about MSU. The main part has been one of your House subcommittees wanting Mike Mann and others and IPCC to respond on how they produced their reconstructions and how IPCC
produced their report.
In case you want to look at this see later in the email !
Also this load of rubbish !
This is from an Australian at BMRC (not Neville Nicholls). It began from the attached article. What an idiot.
The scientific community would come down on me in no
uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isnt statistically significant. The Australian also alerted me to this blogging ! I think this is the term ! Luckily I dont live in Australia.
AND SEE ALSO: ‘Climategate’ professor Phil Jones awarded £13 million in research grants.
Amen to that. Indeed, a good dose of market oriented science would cure that. I think it’s time to start phasing science over to the free market. Let supply and demand determine how many scientists we need.
Science is the search for truth. Yeah, I’d NEVER trust that. Seesh.
There is no science without fallible human beings. They are inseparable.
I am FOR science, REAL SCIENCE, unbiased science, not political hacks manipulating data to get a desired outcome.
People who have an agenda have no place in science.
That is not anti-science! And I find it offensive for anyone to question my love for science because I refuse to allow a few quacks who have fooled others into believing they are REAL scientists, when they are nothing more than agenda driven ideologues.
Science? Why not!
But who will tell science?
Science? What Science?
Anyway Science needs to improve and go on every day
Obviously you’ve read his other posts before....
I can’t think of any great scientist that is remembered down through the generations that became great and remembered for following the prevailing consensus.
They all overturned a prevailing belief, and the greater the consensus stacked against them, the more settled the science seemed, the more we revere the scientist today.
Since medical doctors have lost the ethos of the Hippocratic Oath, they have joined scientists in forgetting their humanity, in the pursuit of information devoid of knowledge and wisdom.
Setting aside religious beliefs for a moment, both scientists and doctors need to reexamine their whole spectrum of values.
To explain, values in a non-religious context can be looked at in three ways. The first of these is the scale of life. From simplest to most complex, life has inherent value, but life also has value to other forms of life. Most scientists grasp this well, understanding both that life is ephemeral, and that life consumes or displaces other life.
Many, unfortunately, do not look beyond just life, to realize that there are other values, other scales of values, beyond just life.
For example, if a person has value, does their family have more value, or their “people”, or their nation, or all people apart from other living things? It is easy to assume that many people are more important than one person, but this assumption is not always correct.
There are some scientists and doctors who try to place the value of the life of another person in context with the entire world. How arrogant! It is just another form of dehumanization, and an excuse to abuse another person with emotional impunity and indifference.
Some of them are overwhelmed by the idea of there being so many people in the world. It is easy for them to talk about how much “better” the world would be if a third, or a half, or even most people would just die. This is the problem of a lack of ethics.
And this is the bottom line, for both scientists and doctors. They either embrace life, if they are ethical, or they despise life, if they have no ethos.
The third kind of values are based in sympathy or empathy. Many scientists and doctors abhor this, however, because they just cannot muster such feelings And while the ethics found in religion could make a suitable replacement for this lack of sympathy or empathy, without it, all scientists and doctors can promise is destruction and death.
Anyone can do science and thus be a scientist and letting it become like an elitist priesthood has been a mistake as the Global Warming scam has demonstrated.
“You are not a scientist” is just a way of intimidating others into accepting the so-called “magisterium” of an elitist science.
God is Great...
“I was blinded by science!”
Poignant remarks, you will be resoundingly demeaned, but certainly not by me.
There is no unbiased science because there are no unbiased scientists.
Your failure to recognize that is demonstrating bias in itself.
What Metmom said!
Interesting the keywords spammed into the keyword list on a topic that does not address religion from a source that is not religious.
Then why does someone think that it *belongsinreligion*?
Or that it’s *notasciencetopic*?
I beg to differ. Make and *all* instead of the *vast bulk*.
Seems to me that science worked pretty well for a long time before the government grant money provided the living.
You extremist you! J/K. The only reason I said “vast bulk” is because of national security related science. But then again, I suppose most of that could be contracted out as well!
But how many us would pull out our check books for a Super-Duper Collision Collector? Not very many just to provide jobs and prestige for the users and not even a hadron for our money.
I have researched 100's of things never once did I manipulate the data. In fact, on my masters thesis the facts actually disproved my original hypothesis (I actually found that interesting). Never once was I tempted to manipulate the data to make it turn out how I expected it to before hand.
” There is no unbiased science because there are no unbiased scientists.
Your failure to recognize that is demonstrating bias in itself. “
That is precisely why you judge the credibility of the science by what is published - it’s methods, means, and data, as well as any relevant disclosures on funding. That way everyone can look at it through the lens of their own biases - and if the science is good more often than not the conclusions are validated despite biases inherent in the human condition.
This is precisely why “creation science” is just like “global warming science” neither publish their full methods means and data, nor do they disclose other relevant facts - like pre-determined conclusions.
Your anti-science bias is clearly visible, thank you for making it so apparent so we may judge your comments accordingly.
BUT, that is not the same as taking raw data and secretly changing it to meet an end (destroying the original data that was painstakingly collected) and then distributing that knowingly false manipulated data to others who think they are getting original data. Who then do research based on the falsified data that reinforces a falsehood and perpetuates a lie.
Manipulating data in that way is akin to scientific heresy, and those responsible should be thrown out of the scientific community, lose their teaching and research positions, have all of their grants retracted, and be shunned for life from the scientific community.
That’s because you have integrity. It speaks well of you.
Unfortunately that is not a universal practice.
Studies examine withholding of scientific data among researchers, trainees
It May Look Authentic; Heres How to Tell It Isnt
Most scientific papers are probably wrong
Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis
Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
One in seven scientists say colleagues fake data
You Can Trust a Scientist Cant You?
I worked for an environmental consulting firm. Several people had “environmental scientist” on their business cards. I always got a laugh out of that. They collected samples for laboratory analysis, and mapped plumes of groundwater contamination, but conducted no real research. They had bachelor degrees, and one of them had no degree.
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he take under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, 'See, this is new?' it has been already of *old* time, which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
I’d consider the national security stuff more technology related.
There is, however, the meteorology related stuff. :)
The NWS was started during the war to provide information for the military and has expanded due to the impact weather has on the citizenry.
Very useful information, that weather stuff. Even then, the research on storm development could be contracted out.
Me too. Figures don't lie, but liars do figure. The problem is when any agenda driven entity, whether YEC or AGW begins to decide what the figures are saying.
You aren't trying to drag this discussion into a rehash or refutation of heliocentrism are you?
Likewise there are no unbiased buyers and sellers. Does this mean there are no unbiased markets?
Of course not. Markets (properly realized) are unbiased setters of prices even though, in that particular case, ALL marketeers are biased, and markedly so.
Your logic is flawed. (Fallacy of Composition/Division) It is not the case that, in order for an institution to be unbiased, that all (or even any) individual participants be unbiased.
Science has a MAGICSTERICAL, too.
It’s a toss up as to whether the RC’s or Science’s MAGICSTERICAL
is more . . . outrageously silly, obtuse, laughable, distorting of reality, !!!!TRADITION!!!! bound, twisted by narrow power mongering bias . . . etc.
Could it not be said these 'climate-warmers' are in fact heliocentricts?.... I posted Solomon's words NOT because of heliocentrism but rather to point out the vanities of flesh man. Solomon says what is, has already been of *OLD* time, of which there is no retrieval memory in the flesh body.
With all science these days you must be very careful to note what are actual facts and what are theories and conjecture masked as facts. Too often much of what you read and see are not facts but are presented as facts. The worst part is that one so called fact is based upon another so called fact. Soon you have to unravel lots of unreliable conclusions before you can get down to the bare facts and you can decide what you believe they may or may not mean.
That is a very good reason to stay off the IRC website and to ignore these posts by GGG. You see, GGG is involved in a self declared war with real science because it has rejected his crack pot theories developed, published, and posted over a nearly 30 year stint under many, many names, accounts, and net IDs. Like a petulant child, if he can't have mass adulation by the science community he is going to try his best to strip it away from the likes of Charles Darwin. In his grand scheme, Young Earth Creationists are only useful idiots, to borrow a phrase.
You might want to note that Ben Stein’s film “Expelled” is now being shown on the cable channels. The film documents the manner in which people who speak out against Chuck Darwin’s brain-dead ideology or even so much as mention the fact that there might be competing theories in any sort of a classroom or professional setting are subject to attack by the system and in many cases are having their ability to earn livings impacted. It’s just about to the point where somebody has to be outside of the system to talk about it.
Getting lonely over there at Darwin Central?? Get used to it, it’s gonna get lonelier...
Courtesy ping to GGG to post 47 since it has been neglected........
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