Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Pseudoscience American

If you want good old fashioned blowhards, this is a great place to start.

Basically, Shermer goes on a witch hunt, condemning 'smart' people for believing in things not supported by HIS science. My favorite is the following:

And for embracing alternative medicine, the percentages actually increase, from 89 percent for high school grads to 92 percent for college grads

This causes him concern? I wonder if this intellectual giant has bothered researching what he terms 'alternative medicine'. Does he know there are documented studies whereby acupuncture is accepted as 'effective' in treatment of acute back pain? The fact that it has been shown unaffective in chronic back pain means nothing in this context, just in case you were wondering. Are we to scoff at those who genuinely feel they gain something from chiropractics, etc merely because Shermer's 'science' has not adequately provided him the evidence HE needs to say "yes, this is true"? No.

The alternative is to say "F--K You, Shermer" and move on to more important issues, like actually paying for those medical visits when your insurance company denies coverage. What he misses, as do many other 'die-hard' scientists, is the notion that we are not capable of explaining many of the things in our world. Science, in and of itself, is a faith-based system (those who are intellectually honest will admit this to themselves, so be wary of 'scientists' who do not). Especially in medicine, where the 'placebo' effect is documented fact, physicians understand that science cannot explain what is going on, or why some treatments work wonders on patient a, but kill patient b. Can't explain it, nor do we really need to.

We can glean a deeper cause of this problem in another statistic: 70 percent of Americans still do not understand the scientific process, defined in the study as comprehending probability, the experimental method and hypothesis testing. One solution is more and better science education, as indicated by the fact that 53 percent of Americans with a high level of science education (nine or more high school and college science/math courses) understand the scientific process, compared with 38 percent of those with a middle-level science education (six to eight such courses) and 17 percent with a low level (five or fewer courses).

I included the above statement, which coincidentally fell immediately after my above quote, because of 1 word. Can you guess what word that is? PROBLEM, as in We can glean a deeper cause of this PROBLEM... If it's not clear to you that Shermer is seling something @ this point in the article, I can't help you. I had to fight just to continue reading this self-inflating crap. It's not bad enough that 'intellectuals' love to spar with those they deem 'below' them on any chance they get, but to write this sort of grandstanding, whereby scientists are put on a pedestal of all things 'right', free from bias, perversion, etc. is absolute nonsense. Maybe I should write an email linking the recent Lancet debacle whereby former MMR research 'scientists' disavowed their study due to the lead author working under the guise of a lawyer. Ahh, the sweet taste of hypocrisy in the afternoon.

Scientific American is decent to read sometimes, but they to easily get caught up in the "we're better than you because we're professional scientists" crap to actually be worthwhile in the long run. I'd suggest it to no one, unless you want ideas on how NOT to write/act.