Of blogs and science

Science aficionado Scott Hatfield raises a hypothesis and asks a question:

Vox likes to talk of scientistry, scientody, and other self-appointed neologisms, and the unmistakable impression I receive is that he resents the relative standing of science in the intellectual world and would like to see it taken down a peg. In this respect Vox Day, the ‘Christian Libertarian and Forensic Atheologist’, has more in common with the science envy displayed by post-modern readers in the sociology of science.

Resents? Science envy? By no means! After all, by one of the temporary definitions of science put forth by the science fetishists, I am myself a member of the secular priesthood, if a low-ranking one. And I hasten to point out that the aforementioned neologisms are merely my labels for the definitions of science provided for us by an atheist scientist, they’re not my definitions. I would like to see a reform of scientistry in defense of scientage and scientody; it’s precisely because I value the latter two that I tend to oppose the former.

In return, I should very much like to know Scott’s definition of science, if PZ’s is unsatisfactory.

I was getting ready to put this dog to bed when I came across a cute little note from fellow Molly winner Blake Stacey about the effects of a series of posts over at Pharyngula. Essentially, the owner of that blog (PZ Myers) was instrumental in marshaling his readership to investigate possible plagiarism and other sins in a peer-reviewed publication, as described here.

What makes this especially fascinating is that it shows that peer review is (of course!) not perfect, as it is done by human beings; at the same time, it shows that the larger role of the scientific community to ‘review’ the reviewers is well-served by the existence of a network of science bloggers! So, Vox, if you’re reading this, please acknowledge that science blogging, even if not science itself, contributes to an important part of the scientific method, which is peer review.

I will certainly do no such thing! I will, however, acknowledge that science blogging, while not science itself, contributes to an important part of the scientific PROFESSION, which is peer review. Ironically, Scott provides us with an illustration of why the distinctions between scientistry, scientody and scientage are so important. Peer review is nothing more than a form of professional group editing, as one commenter previously pointed out, peer review is no more science than a group of editors writing the daily unsigned editorial for the opinion page is news.

“Meta-science” is good, but in this case, “not-science” is better.

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