Today, in the WSJ, D.B.Botkin explains that absolute “certainty” is not scientific. This, regarding human induced climate change , life on Mars, water on the moon and the increasing bad blood between people and scientists that “believe” to be certain about those and other things and vociferously say and blog so.
There are fields of contention where au contraire arguments are dismissed before even considered, claiming absolute certainty :
Example N 1.: Evolution. An increasing number of scientists confront the status of the “new synthesis” (closely strangely linked to new atheism for reasons to be discussed later) but they are being profusely refuted by the champions of neodarwinism, which has become something religious. Where is certainty here? It doesnt matter, really. The point being if, for instance, group level selection is a driving evolutionary force, so be it. I posit that evolution works at all levels, of course. But when you claim and raise a banner for say ‘selfish genes”, you make an ars of yourself . When Lynn Margulis died, her obituaries, mostly written by males, reflected her enormous contribution to evolutionary theory, which before was totally vilified: the idea of cell “invading” cells was farfetched. The rejction of her ideas was done by, again mostly a male neodarwinist establishment. Shame on you, little boring elf.
Somehow. some neodarwinists have become the vanguard of the new atheism (new?). I assume a response to the USA deranged christian reaction to evolution science. It doesnt happen anywhere else, to the extent it happens here, except maybe in the Taliban School of Jihad? This situation gives rise to a hilarious chain of blogs, writers and “pundits” that daily machine gun the most abject diatribes. (PZ Myers, WEIT, Choice in dying and many others: i dont read religionists blogs except for the New Oxonian, which is hilarious and drives some crazy, especially old macdonald that should get a woman and shut up).
Example N. 2: The standard model of reality (matter I mean) with the Higgs or not, at 125 gev or 140 GEV, heavier than Higgs possibilities, strings and heavenly realms of parallel or multiverse domains of sparate realities (Don Juan was right), which are under increasing fire for telling just so stories. Strings? Multiverses? One funky aspect of this disputatios is that many popular books by well-known physicists have titles such : The God particle, Knocking on heavens door, The fabric of the cosmos and others, that recall a magic kingdom somewhere in the cosmos. Interestingly, in the evolutionary side we have, in the same vein: The better angels of us and, The magic of reality (a book intended for children plagiarized from Nerudas’, Book of questions ) as if authors have run out of interesting or clever titles (a real obsession here) for their ideas. Where is certainty here? We havent even seen a Higgs’ quantic (quarkic?) fart yet, and if the data shows something it will be that; just a fart, an inconclusive fart for that mater. Another LHC, this one doesnt work.
Example N. 3: Evolutionary psychobiology (as if there could be a psychology that wasnt biological) has become a fashionable (again) discipline (urgh) to tell us why (or is it how) we are what we are. The condition here is just insane: the evopsychos have defined the evolutionary psychobiology of the white anglosaxon undergraduates: their experimental rhesus monkeys (actually asked to answer questionnaires, and perform idiotic experiments ) which give something called the ‘size of the effect’ as a measure. This field of expertise is so silly and crazy. Certainty that we evolved a complex psyche? Sure. Certainty that women maximize reproductive fitness wearing provocative garments during ovulation? Christ! oh man. Many have discussed the question of evopsych fads and how they ‘dominate” science blogs, news outlets, soft science journals. Monkey biology explains the US political system? Well..in this one I will side with EvoPsych.
Example N. 4: Economics (sic). Never ever there has been such an incoherent field of knowledge where completely dichotomous and contrarian “opinions” are held by Nobel prize winners and held as the bibles of the field (exceot there one too many bibles). Laughable. Certainty? It certainly sucks. How come we couldnt see the systems’ recession? In a related area, some neochampions of neocapitalim are heralding the triumph of the “neowestern” economic system (an epitome of the goddam evolutionary process) which should shortly have every family in the world earning 40k . N. Ferguson has argued for the “evident’ virtues of the system, evolved to its pinnacle, thru war, imperialism and subjugation, which are on;y incidental and necessary collaterals in the story of the rise of the neocon empire that according to Pinker already has brought a state of peace to the world where humanity will flourish even more than at Harvard yard. Bless their hearts.
Example N. 5 Climate change. Certainty that global warming is 74 % manmade is not fully accepted (Nature Geosciences, Dec 7). People doubt the 74 % calculations: IT DOESNT MATTER,WE SHOULD BE DOING more for us and the universe, well “mother” earth. Live decently. The status quo mainly represents neocons happy with the model. Right Ridley? (atheist skeptic and denier).