Science writer: Bash Bigfoot less, pop science more

From Dennis Horgan at Scientific American:

Here’s an example involving two idols of Capital-S Skepticism: biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss. Krauss recently wrote a book, A Universe from Nothing. He claims that physics is answering the old question, Why is there something rather than nothing?

Krauss’s book doesn’t come close to fulfilling the promise of its title, but Dawkins loved it. He writes in the book’s afterword: “If On the Origin of
Species was biology’s deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see A Universe From Nothing as the equivalent from cosmology.”

Just to be clear: Dawkins is comparing Lawrence Krauss to Charles Darwin. Why would Dawkins say something so foolish? Because he hates religion so much that it impairs his scientific judgment. He succumbs to what you might call “The Science Delusion.”

“The Science Delusion” is common among Capital-S Skeptics. You don’t apply your skepticism equally. You are extremely critical of belief in God, ghosts, heaven, ESP, astrology, homeopathy and Bigfoot. You also attack disbelief in global warming, vaccines and genetically modified food. More.

Of course, they attack this smorgasbord of concerns because they conflict with the Skepticism sects’ own variously assembled creeds. Evidence is a secondary concern, so far as one can see.

I (O’Leary for News) started my series on naturalism in 2013 by asking, why is the space alien “science” and Bigfoot “not science”? We don’t have evidence of either, so the best explanation is likely cultural. Which is, more or less what Horgan is talking about. He continues:

Meanwhile, you neglect what I call hard targets. These are dubious and even harmful claims promoted by major scientists and institutions. In the rest of this talk, I’ll give you examples of hard targets from physics, medicine and biology. I’ll wrap up with a rant about war, the hardest target of all.”

Well, now we have a clue. The Skeptics don’t attack targets who could punish or even just fail to reward them. Horgan goes on to point out that the multiverse is not experimentally verifiable, so its proponents are working to undermine the standard of falsifiability:

Physicists are even promoting the idea that our universe is a simulation created by super-intelligent aliens. Last month, Neil de Grasse Tyson said “the likelihood may be very high” that we’re living in a simulation. Again, this isn’t science, it’s a stoner thought experiment pretending to be science.

Um yes, but that’s exactly what happens when scientists undermine falsifiability and promote non-evidence-based science.

Horgan is right to be concerned. If the trend continues, science journalism may as well just be Hollywood Reporter, for all that it matters except as a vehicle for promoting the stars. But perhaps naturalism can result in no other outcome. We shall see.

See also: Tyson bombshell: Universe likely just computer sim Note: Tyson is entitled to his fancies, but why is this stuff supposed to be “science”? What entitles it to some special regard?