Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Media Gets One Right

I was pleased to see that one of the internet news sources got something right. In an article about global warming deniers (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/02/27/global_warming_deniers/), Joseph Romm catches the very essence of why science works. He mentions a Wall Street Journal article that asserts that "scientists are human; they do not wait for proof. Many devote their professional lives to seeking evidence for hypotheses, especially well-funded hypotheses, they've chosen to believe.", and then hits the nail on the head with the following:

How sad that the WSJ and CNBC have so little conception of what science really is, especially since scientific advances drive so much of the economy. If that's what Jenkins thinks science is, one would assume he is equally skeptical of flossing, antibiotics and even boarding an airplane.

(Note to WSJ: One reason science works is that a lot of scientists devote their whole lives to overturning whatever is the current hypothesis -- if it can be overturned. That's how you become famous and remembered by history, like Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein.)

In fact, science doesn't work by consensus of opinion. Science is in many respects the exact opposite of decision by consensus. General opinion at one point might have been that the sun goes around the Earth, or that time was an absolute quantity, but scientific theory supported by observations overturned that flawed worldview.

Kudos to Salon and Dr. Romm...

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