До Свидания #11

Error in Rigour


Amitakh Stanford

4th September 2010

Science has been elevated as the sole authority to explain the workings of the world and to decide what should and should not be taken seriously. Science determines what should be believed, what is superstitious, and what is nonsense. In a sense, science has become the self-proclaimed judge of everything. From this vaunted position, science has imposed its will on everything, and spread its tentacles into politics, religion, education, culture, medicine, law, and practically every other field.

Under the “rule of science”, anything that is supernatural or metaphysical is often scoffed at or outright scorned. The scientific rulers have encouraged sceptics to belittle various phenomena, such as: UFO sightings, alien encounters, religious experiences, spirit communications, ghosts, astral beings, apparitions, inter-dimensional beings, reincarnation, past lives, continuation of consciousness, entity possessions, clairvoyance, clairaudience, prophecy, general psychic abilities, and anything else that does not fit neatly into scientific dogma.

The elevation of science has been so effective that people are very fearful of its ridicule, scorn and rejection. Sceptics are confidently bolstered; they are proud that they alone can judge what is ridiculous and nonsense and what is true and acceptable. Sceptics are so self-assured in their positions as the judges of everything that they outwardly display an air of arrogance and contempt. Almost everything has to be subjected to the Scientific Inquisition, which is not so unlike the Spanish Inquisitions – knowledge and wisdom are their victims, too often suppressed and censored by the ignorant and the arrogant. In extreme cases, the sceptics proclaim that “science is never wrong!”

Those who study science have not always been referred to as “scientists”. Until the 1830s, the discipline was known as natural philosophy, and individuals who studied it called themselves “natural philosophers”. The change in nomenclature allowed “scientists” to disassociate themselves from theoretical philosophers.

Science presents its cases as if they were all based upon hard, empirical evidence. This is misleading. If every scientific theory were called a philosophical concept, everyone would be on guard as to its reliability and accuracy. Whilst scientists have gathered genuine data on some subjects, and conducted experiments to determine properties and “laws” of physics and other disciplines, they have also extrapolated, surmised, opined, and outright guessed in many other instances to develop various “scientific” theories about the composition of the universe and where humans stand in relation to everything in it.

The theories are presented repeatedly, and with such ardent fervour, that everyone forgets they have little or no empirical basis. Even the inconsistent theories are presented as facts. For instance, modern cosmology, which began in the 1920s, postulates the theory that the universe is expanding. From this hypothesis, cosmologists have theorised that the universe began with a big bang, a convulsive explosion. An alternative view is the steady-state theory, which asserts that the universe has no origin, but is expanding based on the continual formation of new matter. The theories are contradictory. One takes the position of convulsive evolution, while the other emphasises gradual growth and development.

Scientists of today will use the premises of these contradictory theories to mix and match their particular guesses at how the universe operates. For example, Darwinian evolutionary theory requires vast time-lines to be feasible. Therefore, the Darwinian view requires that the Earth be very old and to have gradually developed. On the other hand, another scientific theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs is that a catastrophic event wiped them out. This goes to show that the accepted scientific theories are not always based on consistent premises. It is often the case in science that the convenient theory becomes the accepted theory.

History has shown how many huge mistakes natural philosophers have made. The flat-Earth theory was believed for millennia, as was the theory that the Earth was the centre of the universe and everything revolved around it. Copernicus disproved the likelihood that the Earth was the centre of the universe, instead offering the alternative view that it is a subservient satellite of the sun in our solar system. Even today, most people are unaware that what Copernicus presented is a theory. As more and more evidence emerges, it becomes more and more likely that Copernicus was correct. With regard to the two main theories of the origin of the universe, they are rudimentary hypotheses that should not even be elevated to the level of theories. Yet, the big bang is presented as though it is an absolute fact; Darwin's theory of evolution is dealt with in the same manner.

Many people want to accept the scientific explanation of the universe because they disbelieve the religious philosophy and dogma regarding Creation. A typical religious creation account is found in the Torah, which is part of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. That account of creation was subjected to tremendous rigour by religious scholars and natural philosophers. It was accepted by many who went through this rigorous study that the Earth was approximately 6,000 years old. The rigour employed was referred to by many as one of the most rigorous endeavours of the pre-Renaissance era. Proponents of the 6,000 year-old Earth included Elijah, Augustine of Hippo, Bede, Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther, among others. Even the esteemed natural philosopher, Isaac Newton, concluded that the religious scholars were essentially correct; the Earth is about 6,000 years old.

Much of the 6,000 year-old Earth belief can be blamed on the King James Version of the Bible, which included annotations in the margins to put all the dates together for people to apply rigour in testing biblical dates for creation. Some extreme religious philosophers, who echoed the marginal annotations in the King James Version of the Bible, claimed that Creation occurred on Sunday at noon, on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C.

Science prides itself on employing rigour, which means that science has tested many of its theories over and over. The problem is that the rigour can be based on flawed premises, be flawed methodologically, or both. There was immense rigour applied to the geocentric model of the Earth, and it was fully accepted by religious and natural philosophers until Copernicus refuted it. Now, the same type of rigour is applied to the theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system. If, in the future, someone were to unequivocally refute the Copernican theory, all of the rigour in proving it would have to be abandoned. Such is the state of scientific discoveries that people would accept the new theory and laugh at the old.

Science has presented us with the theory that carbon emissions are significant contributors to global warming. It has presented us with many scientific evaluations of the data to prove this position, and the scientific consensus is that carbon emissions must be reduced to check global warming. The raw data on which scientists have based this conclusion is not readily available; it is secreted in the United Kingdom. Some scientists have been proven to have intentionally corrupted the data base, and others have been shown to have intentionally manipulated the data to support the carbon emissions theory. Instead of scientists being aghast at the fraud, many have rallied around the theory, and asserted that the science behind the theory is good and credible because such immense rigour has been applied to the theory that it must be correct. Therefore, they argue, there is scientific proof that carbon emissions are significantly responsible for global warming and that it is critical to put a price on carbon and to pass an ETS. The geocentric model and the Creation account had equal rigour applied to them. For now, both theories are hopelessly wrong.

A Scot named James Hutton devised a theory that everything on Earth is very old, and that the planet has been gradually shaped by erosion and occasionally rearranged by convulsive events. His analysis has provided the basis for dating everything on the Earth, including the planet itself. People now confidently parrot that the Earth is four billion years old, that certain dinosaurs walked the planet so many million years ago, and humans evolved into homo-sapiens so many tens of thousands of years ago, and so on. The believers claim that these dates are based upon scientific postulates, and that the results have been subjected to rigour, therefore they are correct.

The hypothesis of plate tectonics describing the formation of continents has been subjected to such scientific rigour that the theory of continental drift is readily accepted and parroted by many. The hypothesis of a molten-core Earth is equally accepted, whilst the sceptical “judges” have scoffed at the theory of the hollow Earth.

Doctors and psychiatrists who believe in metaphysical concepts and experiences should not be threatened by their respective licensing boards. Neither should lawyers or politicians be disadvantaged by acknowledging alien encounters. Psychics and those sensitive to metaphysical things should not be deemed mentally disturbed just because they can sense or “see” things that others do not.

Although science has improved many aspects of living by providing technology in many fields, its unsubstantiated theories should be treated much like religious beliefs. There is no absolute proof or disproof of them, or they would be facts, not theories. People should not be subjected to ridicule for their beliefs just because their beliefs do not fit scientifically prescribed scrutiny.

© 2010 Amitakh Stanford