Skip to content

Yeah well you can prove anything with science – Bad Science

July 10

What do people do when confronted with scientific evidence that challenges their pre-existing view? Often they will try to ignore it, intimidate it, buy it off, sue it for libel, or reason it away.

The classic paper on the last of those strategies is from Lord in 1979: they took two groups of people, one in favour of the death penalty, the other against it, and then presented each with a piece of scientific evidence that supported their pre-existing view, and a piece that challenged it. Murder rates went up, or down, for example, after the abolition of capital punishment in a state, or comparing neighbouring states, and the results were as you might imagine. Each group found extensive methodological holes in the evidence they disagreed with, but ignored the very same holes in the evidence that reinforced their views.

Some people go even further than this, when presented with unwelcome data, and decide that science itself is broken. Politicians will cheerfully explain that the scientific method simply cannot be used to determine the outcomes of a drugs policy. Alternative therapists will explain that their pill is special, among all pills, and you simply cannot find out if it works by using a trial.

via Yeah well you can prove anything with science – Bad Science.

This is the funny/dangerous thing about belief.  The typical defense of this way of thinking is “what is the harm?”. The harm is having a population making decisions based ideas not based in reality, but based in their own twisted view of the world.  In a democracy it is very important to have a population educated in science and logic making the decisions.  Otherwise, aren’t we just driving blind?

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: