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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Has the Left Abandoned the Scientific Method?

The American Thinker has an article today that caught my attention as it relates to a vigorous debate here at Dakota Voice last week concerning the movie, EXPELLED, and the intelligent design vs. evolution debate in general. Jonathan David Carlson’s piece, titled “The Left's Theft of the Open Society and the Scientific Method” begins unambiguously, “The Left misappropriates intellectual capital for perverse ends, in order to lend itself a veneer of respectability and befuddle its critics.”

From there Carlson builds his case by examining the Open Society Institute, a George Soros funded organization that claims a direct lineage to the great philosopher Karl Popper who wrote “Open Society and Its Enemies” in 1945. In fact, Soros’ philosophy and that of his Open Society Institute have strayed far from the philosophy espoused by Popper. The Open Society Institute has as much to do with an open society as The Human Rights Campaign has to do with human rights.

Karl Popper is best known for his contribution to the philosophy of science (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1934), this, in a nut shell, is an outline of logic and principles for scientists to follow to assure that their work is verifiable and credible. When we hear evolutionists claim that intelligent design is not “falsifiable” and therefore “not science,” they are appealing to concepts first laid down by Popper. (The theory that more complex species evolved from less adapted preceding species is equally not “falsifiable,” but that escapes their notice.) Carlson quotes Popper’s "Postscript" to his autobiography Unended Quest:

I know very well that much is wrong in our Western society. But I still have no doubt that it is the best that ever existed. And much that is wrong is due to its ruling religion. I mean the ruling religious belief that the social world that we live in is a kind of hell. This religion is spread by the intellectuals, especially those in the teaching profession and in the news media.

The “ruling religion” Popper alludes to was leftist social theory advanced by Marx, Hegel and others of the era. It seems to some of us that not that much has changed!

Carlson continues,
Unfortunately, The Logic of Scientific Discovery has been as much stolen by the scientific establishment as The Open Society and Its Enemies has been stolen by George Soros. As Popper recounts in Unended Quest, he created his famous philosophy of science in reaction to Marx, Freud, and Alfred Adler, another psychoanalyst, whose advocates found confirmation of their views in everything that happened, no matter how much it contradicted their theories, much as global warming hysterics find justification in both hot and cold weather and in both floods and droughts. The Left is fond of making predictions, not so fond of checking up on them.

Popper came up with the idea that a scientific theory must be falsifiable to distinguish science and pseudo-science, not to deny the meaningfulness of other modes of thought and expression, such as religion and literature. But the scientific establishment, in true Open Society Institute fashion, holds falsifiability up to the general public long after abandoning it itself. Perhaps it had to. What it did not have to do was to abandon it without telling the general public, which would have also meant abandoning its use against religion and traditional values.


3 comments:

Rich Hughes said...

I'm pleased Dr. Theo brings up Popper and Emperical Falsificationism, but I'm suprized he doesn't bring up "Historicism", the central theme of both parts of “Open Society and Its Enemies”.

He then makes the very strange claim "theory that more complex species evolved from less adapted preceding species is equally not “falsifiable,” but that escapes their notice." without defining 'complex'. Very creationist! Speciation and adaption have been observed and the fossil record shows and increase in diversity and structural elements over time:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

NDE is certainly falsifiable; a chimera such as a mermaid or rabbit remains from the Cambrian would do it. So would a dog giving birth to a cat.

But Dr. Theo’s “argument” is simply Tu quoque, which is of course fallacious and unfounded.

Dr. Theo said...

There have been inummerable (tens of thousands) anomalies in the fossil record, (a sampling can be viewed here: http://www.nwcreation.net/anomalies.html and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polystrate_fossil.) yet they are simply ignored or rejected because they would falsify the theory, just as Mr. Hughes states. So, de facto, the theory cannot be falsified.

Mr. Hughes misapplies tu qoque, and I am not sure to what end. Perhaps to impress. It means "You, too." in Latin and is used to accuse someone of hypocrisy. I might be wrong. I might be stupid. I might be rude. I might be deluded. But, why does he accuse me of hypocrisy?

Complexity, for those who do not understand the word, means more complex. In the way it is used in my piece it means more genetic information. Now, I know the next demand--define information. Information is organized code that is consistent and readable to the system to which it is appied and codes for additional biological functions within the system. A string of random letters in this reply would not add to the information or complexity it contains. A quote from today's WSJ about Obama's loss in Pennsylvania, while perhaps intelligible, may add information but not complexity. Such is the genetic code. Simply rearranging, or even adding nucleotides does not necessarily add information. Only if the nucleotide code is readable and conveys additional usable information can it increase complexity.

Random chance and natural selection cannot account for the orders of magnitude difference between the information contained in a diphtheroid and a Democrat and no experimental evidence exists to suggest that it does.

Rich Hughes said...

I’ll have to check into John Woodmorappe’s microfossils claims, dated 1982. I was hoping for some megafauna or slightly smaller.

Apparently his claims and honesty are viewed with great skepticism in creationist circles:

http://www.answersincreation.org/profiles/john_woodmorappe.htm

The charge of tu qoque is leveled because you claim that evolution *ALSO* isn’t falsifiable. I’m sorry you couldn’t get there.

I see a lot of sophistry (and a tautology!) regarding complexity and information but no empiricism. Without getting into compressibility, Shannon entropy, etc, let me highlight the roll of context: Let “JYS&%F5” = ‘the complete works of Shakespeare’. Did information generation just happen? How? Why? Why not? Would you agree that gene duplication and then mutation of one of the genes could be a source for your nebulous ‘information’? If gene duplication gives redundancy, is that a net information increase?

Finally we have flailing against the 150 year old strawman that is ‘Random chance and natural selection’. No modern biologist thinks in those terms any more:

http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2007/10/rm-ns-creationist-and-id-strawman.html

 
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