Friday, December 02, 2011

Pinker defines science

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne praises Pinker's new book:
I’ll include just one excerpt that I liked, for it bears on recent discussions we’ve had on this website. I particularly like his characterization of “science” in the second sentence, which is how I construe oue discipline broadly:
(p. 181) Though we cannot logically prove anything about the physical world, we are entitled to have confidence in certain beliefs about it.  The application of reason and observation to discover tentative generalizations about the world is what we call science.  The progress of science with its dazzling success at explaining and manipulating the world, shows that knowledge of the universe is possible, albeit always probabilistic and subject to revision. Science is thus a paradigm for how we ought to gain knowledge — not the particular methods or institutions of science but its value system, namely to seek to explain the world, to evaluate candidate explanations objectively, and to be cognizant of the tentativeness and uncertainty of our understanding at any time.
The definition of science was the essence of the Kansas evolution dispute, according to the NY Times and leading science organizations, and evolutionists convinced Kansas of a new definition. The leftist view denies that science is about truth, and relies on paradigms instead of evidence. I think that Aristotle had a better understanding of what science is.

In around 2005, Kansas decided:
The new definition adopted: "Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."
The evolutionists hated this definition.

Daniel B. Botkin writes a WSJ op-ed that absolute certainty is not scientific:
One of the changes among scientists in this century is the increasing number who believe that one can have complete and certain knowledge. For example, Michael J. Mumma, a NASA senior scientist who has led teams searching for evidence of life on Mars, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "Based on evidence, what we do have is, unequivocally, the conditions for the emergence of life were present on Mars—period, end of story." ...

Some scientists make "period, end of story" claims that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn't happening. For me, the extreme limit of this attitude was expressed by economist Paul Krugman, also a Nobel laureate, who wrote in his New York Times column in June, "Betraying the Planet" that "as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn't help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet." ...

Not only is it poor science to claim absolute truth, but it also leads to the kind of destructive and distrustful debate we've had in last decade about global warming.
The Pinker definition is lousy. He says that science is just a paradigm that cannot prove anything. He says that scientists are entitled to be confident as long as they realize that they may be wrong. He makes some specific claims about Christianity and violence. For these to be scientific, there should be some way for others to test and verify them. It sounds as if he just has some dubious hypotheses about the causes of violence.

Science can prove certain things. In connection with global warming, it has been proved that burning fossil fuels has substantially increased the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and that CO2 absorbs infrared light. We can also measure these things quantitatively and reliably. Whether this has caused the observed warming of the last 50 years is a useful hypothesis, but not yet proved. Whether Krugman is seeing treason against the planet is just an opinion. This subject is greatly confused by those who claim the confidence of the dominant paradigm, but who do not have proof for what they claim.

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