"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Sep 26, 2007

Creationist Dinosaur Hunters

Creationist revisions and baloney detection.

Richard linked to this creationist comic strip this morning. It's really unbelievable, you have to see it for yourself. Spoiler alert: God saved the dinosaurs and then his followers systematically slaughtered them.

I know I'm supposed to be "framing science" so as not to intrude on people's delicate fantasy lives, but if ever there was baloney that needed detection this is it.

Credulous acceptance of baloney can cost you money; that's what P. T. Barnum meant when he said, "There's a sucker born every minute." But it can be much more dangerous than that, and when governments and societies lose the capacity for critical thinking, the results can be catastrophic -- however sympathetic we may be to those who have bought the baloney.

In science we may start with experimental results, data, observations, measurements, "facts." We invent, if we can, a rich array of possible explanations and systematically confront each explanation with the facts. In the course of their training, scientists are equipped with a baloney detection kit. The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. If you're so inclined, if you don't want to buy baloney even when it's reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there's a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method.

What's in the kit? Tools for skeptical thinking.

- Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World

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