Is Mainstream Science Dogmatic? (Repost from December)

expelled.pngGiven that the release of the crocumentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is right around the corner, and that its promotional team is showing the sorts of dogmatism that it is accusing the mainstream scientific community (or, “Big Science”) of (e.g., by expelling prominent critic, PZ Myers from a screening, attempting to bribe Christian schools to force their students to see the movie, pre-screening the film in front of carefully-selected hand-picked audiences), I thought I would re-post the following highly relevant post from way back in December.

Is Mainstream Science Dogmatic?

Many members of the Intelligent Design movement like to present mainstream science—which flat out rejects Intelligent Design—as being dogmatic and unwelcoming to alternative ways of thinking. Is mainstream science dogmatic? Yes and no.On the one hand, science is anything but dogmatic. If one provides tight argumentation and evidence for a theory, even a theory that is seemingly crazy, they can overcome the healthy skepticism of their peers in the scientific community. Think of quantum physics. Is there anything more counterintuitive or ridiculous sounding than that a subatomic particle can be observed to be in two or more places at once, or that knowing something about one subatomic particle (e.g., that it is spinning upward) can allow one to know something about another spatially-displaced particle (e.g., that it is spinning downward) without even looking at it? The rise to prominence of quantum physics is about as clear a demonstration of openmindedness and a willingness to follow the evidence where it leads as one could ever ask for.

Well, maybe Science isn’t dogmatic across the board, but has a special no-exceptions door-slamming bias against religion. A quick look at the previous post on meditation and brain function provides a contemporary counterexample to this possibility. Meditation originated in the East, where it has served as a central pillar in the practice of a number of religious traditions. In recent decades it has become a fertile area of research in Psychology and Psychiatry departments around the world. Owing to overwhelming empirical support, instruction in mindfulness meditation is provided as a type of therapy for various psychological and somatic conditions at hospitals and mental health centres across the Western world.

It doesn’t really seem that science is dogmatically opposed to any kind of theory—religious or not—so long as the theory is testable, and is backed up by tight evidence-based argumentation. But herein lies where science IS dogmatic. Science is dogmatically committed to endorsing theories that are supported by evidence and dogmatically opposed to endorsing theories that are not evidentially justified. Science is dogmatically committed to discriminating against pseudoscience masquerading as legitimate science (e.g., Intelligent Design Creationism). The scientific community is not interested in research based on an infalsifiable and evidentially vacuous premises (i.e., the existence of an Intelligent Designer) which the researchers have already pre-decided is true and are merely looking to feed their confirmation bias. The Intelligent Design community is right: there IS an international scientific conspiracy. It is a coordinated effort to demand rigorous unbiased research on testable evidence-based hypotheses, to follow the evidence where it leads, and to not fund, reward or attend to research that is based on unabashed unreason and offers  no grounds for testing and falsification. It’s called Science.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Is Mainstream Science Dogmatic? (Repost from December)”
  1. Stoobs says:

    When someone comes along and revolutionizes a religion, it schisms – in then generations, there will be two different religions, each holding conflicting beliefs, and most likely at one another’s throats.

    When someone comes along and revolutionizes science, it may schism briefly, but a single generation later, one side or the other will have been abandoned, as the new scientists examine the evidence for themselves and make up their minds.

    I can kind of see how this might appear, to someone with minimal critical thinking skills and poor intelligence, to indicate that science is dogmatic.

  2. Stoobs says:

    Oops. Read ‘ten generations.’

  3. BenStein says:

    There’s an amazing point-by-point analysis of the Expelled ‘Leader’s Guide’ that’s been done at Rationalwiki.com. Worth reading:

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Expelled:Leader%27s_Guide

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