Monday, 13 February 2012

Science Works, Bitch

Science works, bitches. I saw that on a t-shirt once. Its one of the most accurate observations you're going to hear and it's worth some reflection.
It works because its central goals are unbiased; namely a desire to figure out how the world really is. It starts with a hypothesis, an idea or body of ideas which then need to be subjected to some kind of tests intended to distinguish good ideas from bad. If these tests confirm the hypothesis, what we're left with is a theory, a body of ideas in need of further confirmation. Now if you want to test your theory the best way is to get lots of different people in lots of different places to run the same tests, along with further tests designed to break the idea. If all these people, despite their best efforts, still achieve the same results you can have a bit more confidence in the initial idea.
Why is this so important? Why is multiple confirmation so critical? Well that's obvious; it gives credibility and robustness to the concept. Now like all theories it should be subject to revision and new information, but the longer it holds, and the more new information that comes aboard to support it, the more confidence we can have.
And so to evolution. You knew I was going to end up here, didn't you? As the philosopher Daniel Dennett observes;

‎"The evidence of evolution pours in, not only from geology, paleontology, biogeography, and anatomy (Darwin's chief sources), but from molecular biology and every other branch of the life sciences. To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant - inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write. Doubts about the power of Darwin's idea of natural selection to explain this evolutionary process are still intellectually respectable, however, although the burden of proof for such skepticism has become immense."

So what to make of those of deny it? What of the incessant campaigns to get Creationism and Intelligent Design taught in the classrooms of America? Well you can be sure that most attempts are driven by the religious convictions of those who oppose the facts. For some, the idea that we may have emerged from a long process, and from much simpler organisms is unacceptable. The Bible asserts that we're special, unique, set apart from all other creatures. To learn we're just another animal sharing the same genetic material erodes the central Biblical message that we have a unique place in the cosmos.
Well I'm sorry, but the universe doesn't owe you any special privilege. It doesn't care about your anxiety, your raised sense of self importance, or your fear of death. And your willingness to deny facts in order to cling onto your worldview is nothing short of a disgrace, one made all the worse by your continued efforts to get your religious convictions taught as part of the science curriculum.
Time after time the courts defeat you. Time after time the facts crush your half baked ideas. Yet still you come, still you lurch like a drunken moron lurches into yet another bar, expecting to get service. Well sorry but no; we're not serving you here. In fact, we suggest you book yourself a motel for the night in order to sober up. The kind of ideas you've got cooking in that head of yours are no better than the ravings of some inebriated loon, one who's drunk too much for too long at the bar of self deceit.
Go home, Creationist fool. Go sober up. And come back when you've stopped slurring and are able to talk some sense.

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