Fuller and Deeper

Well great. Janeya Hisle of the Pennsylvania ACLU took extensive notes on Steve Fuller’s testimony, so we can explore his linkage of social constructionism with creationism more thorougly. Thank you Janeya Hisle.

According to Dr. Fuller, scientific methods are inherently discriminatory and designed to shut out alternative ideas. For example: peer review. The reviewers are rarely a representative group but a “self-perpetuating elite.” By evaluating a scientist’s track record and publications, the process discriminates against young scientists with new or unpopular ideas. Dr. Fuller said that these same scientists might also have unequal access to grant funding. He suggested that an affirmative action program for scientists with alternative ideas might be one way to address this economic bias.

Yup – he’s right. Reviewers are rarely (at least I hope so, oh I hope so, oh please please please I do so hope so) a representative group. There’s a reason for that, oddly enough. It’s pretty much the same kind of reason that, when you take your car or computer or tv or cyclotron to the shop to be fixed, the people behind the counter don’t go out into the street and collar passers-by and drag them into the back of the shop to fix your toy. It’s because the odds are they don’t know how, and because if you’d wanted any old fool to fix your toy, you wouldn’t have bothered bringing it to the shop, would you. You’ll notice the same principle at work in a lot of places. Dentists. Surgeons. House builders. Electrical engineers. Now, I don’t know about Steve Fuller, but when I go to the dentist, I don’t sit around thinking how unrepresentative the whole arrangement is, and that it really ought to be more representative and democratic and anti-elitist, and that any schmuck with two hands ought to be in here messing around inside my mouth. No. Do we think Steve does? Not really, no. So why does he think it about peer review? Because he’s a berk?

But Dr. Fuller put the most emphasis on the innate tendency of scientific method itself to favor the most popular theory. He said that our current methods persuade scientists to move in a unified direction, eventually creating a small number of widely accepted ideas or paradigms that are only challenged when they begin to self-destruct. Dr. Fuller said that these paradigms in science are so strong that, in order for an unpopular or alternative idea to have a shot at validity, a scientific revolution must occur.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s read Kuhn. Read Kuhn and then run amok.

Dr. Fuller explained that the boundaries between science and non-science are constantly being negotiated and policed. In Dr. Fuller’s world, the words “a well substantiated explanation” should be stricken from the definition of scientific method and that instead we should think of science as “an explanatory conception of a range of phenomena” in order to validate newer, less established ideas.

He’s also read Andrew Ross. Oh, lord…

Testability, while important to the growth of scientific theory, should not determine whether or not an idea is science…ID is not currently testable but, according to Dr. Fuller, testability relates to the longevity of an idea and does not effect whether or not something is science. Regardless of testability, a new idea should still be presented to school children. ID is not testable, but Dr. Fuller specifically supports teaching it in classrooms because ID needs “new recruits.” When asked whether the ID movement has religious motives, Dr. Fuller replied that almost all science “has religious roots.”…Dr. Fuller is clear that the ID mindset assumes a creator exists. Yet, whether ID introduces a supernatural aspect or not is moot because the term supernatural refers both to things that are “above” observation (for example, God) but also to things that are “below” observation – like atoms. In short, he agreed that the ID movement’s motive was religious and that it may be considered “supernatural” in so far as it is not currently testable. But according to Dr. Fuller, that doesn’t mean it’s not science.

ID needs new recruits? And we need to give them to it? And atoms are supernatural? Oy, oy, oy…

According to Dr. Fuller, belief in genetic mutation and natural selection has a tendency to make people just “sit around and wait to die” instead of questioning, studying and testing ideas.

Excuse me? It does? On what planet?

The one that representative astronomers know how to find, I suppose.

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