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The crisis in politicized 'science-' and MSM gullibility

You know that oft-repeated claim that 97% of climatologists believe that we're undergoing catastrophic anthropogenic climate change?

Well, Ian Tuttle reports that it's a lie- and not only documents that claim but explains exactly where that bogus claim comes from.

Meanwhile, Niall Ferguson reports on an NPR (!) study revealing that in two-thirds of the cases examined, studies in the behavioral sciences could not be replicated.

Here's the thing: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his colleagues are absolutely on the money in their claim that we should look to empirical, scientific studies as at least our provisional arbiter of truth concerning the natural world. The trouble is that the politicization of science has rendered so much of what passes as science these days unreliable. When the politics of both scientists and the journalists who report their findings to the rest of us create a bias of which they are unaware or refuse to acknowledge, the result stops being science.

That's why the ipse dixit appeal to scientific authority so common on the Left cuts such little mustard these days among so many people who believe in doing their own thinking. Science doesn't lie- but scientists and journalists sometimes do. Or more often- much more often- they arrogantly confuse their own biases with objective reality that 'peer review' of bad science supporting Leftist-friendly conclusions is effectively useless.

It's amazing that couples who lived together before marriage consistently- in study after study, in country after country, year after year- had a divorce rate nearly twice that of those who didn't- until suddenly, they didn't anymore. Lesbian "marriages" had an astronomical divorce rate, and lesbian relationships were almost axiomatically unstable- until suddenly, they weren't.

There's an interesting phenomenon here, btw: studies and articles by gay and lesbian authors themselves tend to be remarkably frank and open about the downside of their lifestyles. Here is an example. It's straight folks interested in political correctness who tend to fudge the data, intentionally or not.

Nor is bad science a monopoly on the Left. Over and over in the last several weeks I've come across claims by gun enthusiasts that the United States, with its exceptionally lenient gun laws, actually has a relatively low murder rate- because its murder rate doesn't rank all that highly on a list of all the countries in the world, including many Third World nations which exist in virtual anarchy! In fact, the United States does lead the industrialized democracies in both murders and gun-related murders (it leads the world in the second category, as one would expect from the country with more handguns than any other). But I even came across an attempt to spin that statistic the other day. Someone pointed out- correctly- that we don't lead the world's industrialized nations in our murder rate anymore though we once did. The implication seemed to be that things in the U.S. aren't all that bad, murder-wise, compared to the rest of the world. In fact, it's because one industrialized nation- Russia- has passed us!

Here, by the way, is a map comparing the murder rate of all the countries on earth. Note which ones are high, and which are low; you'll find a direct correlation between lax gun laws and lots of murders. The darker the color, the higher the murder rate:

Map of world by intentional homicide rate

In this age of information glut, the massive number of statistics which can be summoned in support of even the most bogus argument is massive. Among people- including scientists and journalists- who want to believe certain things and not others, you can take it to the bank that studies supporting their preferred conclusions will consistently be found to be more credible than those that contradict them. And given the percentage of both the academic and the journalistic worlds whose population is to the Left of Center politically, it follows that even relatively minor or non-existent flaws in studies which contradict those biases will be blown out of proportion, while equally significant problems with studies supporting conclusions favorable to the Left's agenda will be not so much ignored as simply not noticed.

So what's the solution? Ultimately, it's for scientists and journalists alike to acknowledge the problem and try to allow for it interpreting data. After all, in most cases the culprit isn't intentional or conscious dishonesty, but human nature.

And the rest of us have to remind ourselves over and over that the argument ipse dixit- the appeal to authority- is universally regarded as a fallacy of formal logic.

Einstein once observed, "I have noticed that the universe is remarkably indifferent to my likes and dislikes." Perhaps the solution lies in large measure simply in our remembering that what is true remains true and what is false remains false regardless of our own preferences- and also regardless of what the very human and fallible experts say.

What matters is the facts, not what anybody thinks or says about them.

HT: Real Clear Politics


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