The term “anti-science” is a new buzz word being used by the media. It usually refers to anyone who is skeptical of Darwinian evolution or disastrous climate change predictions.
Who are some of the people that are labeled “anti-science” by the media? An educational leader was bashed by the media as being anti-science for suggesting that students should be taught the scientific evidence for evolution as well as the scientific challenges to evolution. A presidential candidate was called anti-science for suggesting that it would be unwise to pass legislation to curb global warming before more information was gathered and debated.
The strange thing about this is that skepticism, critical analyses, uncensored debates, and other critiques of scientific research are essential to good science. The misconceptions about science shown here by the media completely miss the point of how science works.
First of all, science is not a collection of “scientifically proven” facts that don’t need to be debated or challenged. Even the scientific experts in these fields don’t know everything about their subject area and often disagree with each other. Neither Darwinian evolution nor climate change predictions have been “proven.” Furthermore, neither has a “pass” from scientific challenges.
One of the jobs of scientist is to gather facts and information about the natural world. But that’s not where their work ends. The main job of scientists is to provide logical explanations, such as why something happens or what causes something to happen. These explanations must fit the facts they have gathered.
The work of scientists is much like serving on a criminal trial jury. A possible explanation of what might have happened during a crime is presented to the jury by both the prosecution and the defense. There is only one set of facts, known as the evidence, which both explanations are based on. The jury is given the task of evaluating both explanations on the basis of the evidence and deciding which one is most credible.
If facts alone were all that was needed to convict someone, there would be no need to waste time and money on a trial.
Clearly, facts are not all that is needed in science either. Facts must be interpreted, debated, critically analyzed and reviewed by others, preferably by people who are willing to look at the explanations carefully with an open mind. This is not to say that facts are unimportant. A good scientific explanation must always agree with the facts and not contradict any of them.
It is counter-productive to accuse someone of being anti-science because they are skeptical of Darwinian evolution or disastrous climate change predictions or because they would like to study all relevant scientific evidence.
Adherence to scientific methods of research, including healthy open debate of the research, is what gives science its credibility. If the test of scientific information becomes the opinion of experts, we would soon see many undesirable situations. Grant money would come with strings attached. The more influential scientists would drown out the research of new researchers. Many scientific explanations would become less credible, because they would bypass the important steps of analyzing and critiquing research.
The real anti-science people are the ones who believe that such things as Darwinian evolution, catastrophic climate change, and other controversial topics don’t need to be scientifically debated or challenged.