Skeptic fights back against skepticism about Skeptics

Yes, we know. It’s complicated. Science writer John Horgan might have expected some pushback from his advice to Skeptics: Bash Bigfoot less, pop science more, and he got his wish (!) via Steven Novella at Neurologica blog:

Horgan gives a very superficial analysis, in my opinion to the point of being wrong. He claims they [multiverse, string theory] are not falsifiable, therefore they are pseudoscientific, “Like astrology.” For those of you playing logical fallacy bingo, that is a false analogy. There are many problems with astrology that do not apply to string theory.

Indeed. Astrology eventually became testable* and flunked. It’s not clear that the multiverse or the computer sim universe will ever become testable.

The “non-falsifiable” criticism has been raised, numerous times, by skeptics, and the implications of this have been discussed at length. Briefly, it is true that string theory and the multiuniverse theory are not currently testable, and therefore they are not complete sciences unto themselves. But they do attempt to give insights into what the deeper realities of the physical universe might be by exploring mathematical models for internal consistency, the ability to explain what we already know, and elegance.

If they are not evidence-based and testable, they are not sciences. It is that simple. How did this ever even become a discussion anyway?

They will ultimately come to nothing if we cannot find some way to test them, but that does not mean they serve no purpose now. More.

The trouble is, they do indeed serve a purpose. They keep a high level of evidence-free naturalist nonsense flowing through the sciences, while subtly importing from the top down a new value system that privileges naturalism over evidence. Maybe some like it that way.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG* Apart from astronomy issues, astrology must be difficult to test when everyone believes it. We might then act as if it were true, thus making it seem true.
Set of 3 Link Bowls
For example. If kings are told that a certain conjunction of signs means that kings go to war, they might declare war to give themselves an edge on what they believe other kings will do. Real life experimental disconfirmation would hardly be easy… It’s a wonder it ever happened!

See also: Stop presses: “Moral molecule” another pop science scam Why not wait till findings have been replicated? Oh, wait … there’d be much more trustworthy science, sure, but far less of it overall.

  • simus1

    So much successful rent seeking disguised as science suggests there is too much tax money chasing too few Albert Einsteins.