Antiscience and the atheist

Orac reliably demonstrates a unique ability to wander through the trees, never realizing that he’s in a forest:

Yesterday, I discussed how pseudoscience–nay, antiscience–may well triumph over science in the Autism Omnibus trial presently going on.

What science? The medical-pharmaceutical complex doesn’t permit any proper double-blind scientific studies to be performed in order to determine the safety of shooting up children with 24 or more loads of chemicals before they turn two. Until they inject 1,000 kids with a heavy vaccine schedule and compare them to a group of 1,000 unvaccinated kids, I’m not going to be inclined to pay any attention to the metastudies of metastudies that are constantly cited. Especially since if vaccines were as harmless as it is claimed, there wouldn’t be any need for VAERS or special Federal laws protecting vaccine makers and shooters from lawsuits.

I’ve spoken to a few European pediatricians over the years. They’re all very pro-vaccine in general, but they also think the heavy US vaccine schedule is dangerous, bordering on insane, given that it requires between two and three times the number of shots required in any of their countries.

This time around, Vox seems to be providing what has to be the dumbest rationale for not liking evolution. Banish the thought of pesky evidence and science! Vox knows there must be something wrong with the theory of evolution because he doesn’t like the way that “adherents” of evolution behave when evolution is attacked.

Fine. Take two sunfish and evolve me a lizard in the lab and I’ll be convinced. Or a fish-squirrel, you know, whatever. I’ve read Dawkins, Gould and few lesser would-be evolutionary popularizers, they’ve all got massive gaping holes in their arguments. I particularly enjoyed Dawkins primordial replicators from “The Selfish Gene” for which he admits there is no evidence whatsoever, but logically MUST have existed. Because without them, you know, the whole thing falls apart. Therefore they must have existed, QED. Here’s a pair of questions which arose from my reading of Marc Hauser’s latest yesterday: just how do morals evolve if it’s genes, not species or individuals, that are the evolutionary component? And why has the speed of the evolutionary process apparently increased so greatly of late? Sounds to me like someone might be confusing the metaphor with the reality there.

Orac, as usual, is missing the point. When I ask for specific evolutionary evidence, I always receive evasions, epistemological explanations and attacks. Always. That is not behavior that lends itself to instilling confidence, especially when a lauded evolutionist like Dawkins steps foot into one of my areas of knowledge and reveals himself to be an utterly clueless ignoramus incapable of handling the most basic logic. Moreover, the psychological argument is not my only reason for being skeptical of evolution; while I understand others may have good reason to be dubious of it, it has proven to be a trustworthy guide for me. Physicists have very little evidence for string theory, other scientific fields have enough to satisfy nearly anyone, and yet no scientists in any field are as reliably frothing-at-the-mouth crazy when faced with skepticism than the evolutionary biologists.

More amusing still is Vox’s “nyah-nyah” attempt to “refute” the contention that the tendency of Republicans to reject evolution is not evidence of their ignorance and scientific illiteracy:

As those who visit here more often knew, I was making fun of Dawkins and Harris, but whatever.

Vox also claims that Duchesne wasn’t a scientist, but rather a military doctor. The problem is, you don’t have to be a formal “scientist” to do science. Science is a method, a way of knowing and discovering, a manner of thinking about the world. Formal training in science certainly helps one to do science, but it is not strictly necessary. If the methodology is sound and designed to test a hypothesis based on prior observations and if the observations were carefully made, that’s doing science.

Dance, little atheist, dance! It’s always amusing how the science-worshippers will claim the same thing is, or is not science, depending on which axe they’re grinding at the moment. For all my supposed dislike of science, I take a more scientific approach to nearly everything than individuals like Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens, who rely on purely epistemological and ontological arguments without ever bothering to cite any evidence of anything. (Except, occasionally, Harris, who shouldn’t bother because he can’t even do simple division without making a mistake.) I just finished writing the chapter on Dawkins and I was practically embarrassed for the man when I finished it. I mean, what sort of “scientist” hypothesizes that X is worse than Y, then attempts to prove it by relating a series of five anecdotes about X without ever providing evidence or even assigning any value whatsoever to Y?

So, how can I be said to dislike science when I am, by Orac’s own measure, doing it? The truth is that for people like Orac, if an activity produces a beneficial result, then it must be science. If it is harmful, then it must not be. Because science is good, or at least it means well, and therefore should never be questioned except by other scientists who have been published in the proper peer-reviewed publications. Do not question the Priesthood!

Ah, the old argument from consequences fallacy. First off, no one claims that science is universally good. It’s a tool, a way of thinking, and as such can be used for good or evil. To turn one of Vox’s arguments against him, religion can be used for evil too. Does Vox thus think that religion is harmful, as he seems to think that science is?

Yes, exactly, it’s just a tool, and one can therefore make the case that it is a tool that has outlived its usefulness to Mankind. I’m not actually making that case, though, just as I haven’t made any argument from consequences. Actually, I agree with Daniel Dennett, let’s put all the cards on the table and scientifically examine the benefits of religion versus the costs of religion as well as the benefits of science versus the costs of science. Is Orac up for that? Surely science has nothing to fear from such an inquiry. Although… it’s not religion that has created the imminent, humanity-imperiling threats of nuclear destruction, of genetic and chemical warfare, of pollution and global warming, of overpopulation and resource depletion.

In answer to the question, Vox thinks that both religion and science can be harmful and that both can also can be beneficial; I am not attacking either scientage or scientody, only scientistry, sciencistry and the common, unfounded atheist assumption that religion is net harmful and science is net beneficial.

I hear hoofbeats

It appears the Four Horsemen have saddled up and are about to begin their ride. From the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE:

Homeschooling is a viable alternative to public schools

Despite promises of reform and improvement from politicians, public school boards, school administrators and unions, the results have either been maintenance of the status quo or an actual worsening of an already substandard public education system. Barely on most people’s radar screens, homeschooling is a viable — albeit niche — alternative.

The number of students reported to be homeschooled in 1978 was only 12,500 (many say the number was actually higher due to underreporting), the National Center for Education Statistics reported 1.1 million children were being homeschooled in 2003 — an estimated increase of nearly 20 percent per year over this 25-year period.

Along with vouchers and charter schools, homeschooling is now considered a true alternative to what the public school system has to offer. In 2000, 3 percent of elementary and secondary schoolchildren were homeschooled; only 1 percent were in charter schools, and a mere one-tenth of 1 percent had vouchers to attend private schools. Based on the numbers alone, it is clear that homeschooling is not limited to the anti-establishment or to fundamentalist religious groups or to those in the most rural of communities, as was once the claim. It is now the largest school reform alternative.

I’m not easily shocked, but this is simply stunning. I can’t even imagine the gnashing of teeth taking place in the California teachers’ unions and department of education offices.

Reform the schools: remove your kids.

Sorry for the delay

I’ve finally added the 25 blogs that requested addition to the blogroll and even did a bit of housecleaning as well. If I mistakenly nuked a live blog, please let me know and I’ll restore it.

Great idea

A Georgia professor has created a model calculating the chances of military success:

Despite overwhelming military superiority, the world’s most powerful nations failed to achieve their objectives in 39 percent of their military operations since World War II, according to a new University of Georgia study.

The study, by assistant professor Patricia L. Sullivan in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs, explains the circumstances under which more powerful nations are likely to fail and creates a model that allows policymakers to calculate the probability of success in current and future conflicts.

“If you know some key variables – like the major objective, the nature of the target, whether there’s going to be another strong state that will intervene on the side of the target and whether you’ll have an ally – you can get a sense of your probability of victory,” said Sullivan, whose study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Sullivan said the most important factor influencing whether the more powerful nation is successful is whether its strategic objective can be accomplished with brute force alone or requires the cooperation of the adversary.

This is one of those, “damn, I should have done that” situations. I mean, I’m designing a sim right now that could just have easily been used for something like this. She does very well to focus ont the distinction between the situations where brute force is enough to procur the objective and where it isn’t.

A Nixonian Parousia

La Paglia divina correctly senses a gruesome sexual sociopathy in our next President. She’s so clearly setting up to be the second coming of Richard Nixon, albeit in nominal drag:

Hillary excelled in the first half by the greater specificity of her responses, but her gains were nearly wiped out at one point by her bone-chilling mirthless chuckling (like a sound effect for the Blood Countess in a horror film).

In the second half, when everyone was seated, she overplayed her hand and began to intrude and domineer. The men sank into passive torpor. What was surfacing in Hillary was the old family psychodrama of the bright, brittle, high-achieving daughter contemptuously outflanking her befuddled, resentful, mediocre brothers at the dinner table. It wasn’t a pleasant sight — and all too reminiscent of the bullying Rosie O’Donnell compulsively hogging the spotlight on “The View.”

So, an observant lesbian sees too much Rosie O’Donnell in Hillary Clinton. I wonder why that might be….. Now, I know a lot of you are dreading the next Clinton presidency, but I’m telling you, it’s going to be even more fun than the last one.

Sure, the nation is doomed, but the nation is doomed anyhow. It’s not like any of the Republicans likely to win the nomination are going to lift a finger to reverse the political current towards national extinction. Hillary isn’t going to do much that Giuliani or Romney or Thompson wouldn’t do, but those few things are going to be massively entertaining.

Of course Paglia, being a relative political innocent, doesn’t understand that the Lizard Queen is in no way handicapped by her lack of appeal. I’m not saying that she couldn’t manage to melt down and destroy her candidacy, that’s possible at any moment, but as it stands all she has to do is keep a tight hold on her sociopathy and she’ll walk into the White House with ease.

Call the National Guard

The Banespawn are reproducing. Congratulations.