Belief In Science Is Not Religion

Back in March I posted the news about a group of researchers for the US Navy have proven that cold fusion does exist and that Pons and Fleischmann were right. There was quite a bit of buzz about the announcement and peer reviewed paper presented by the research team.

A number of scientific journals and magazines presented articles discussing the claim, and comments ran fast and furious by readers, some asking questions, wanting some clarification, while others claimed fraud or scientific blasphemy. Yet others discounted the discovery as nothing more than another bit of “science as religion” dogma. It is to this last faction that I am addressing today's post.

Perusing an article about the cold fusion research in the British publication New Scientist, I came across a comment by one skeptic that tried to shove science into the same category as religion, showing his Luddite tendencies (and lack of an adequate education in regards to scientific method and history) to all.

However, my question..pertaining to the religion and following blindly expression.....

If we accepted that science is just as far out and WRONG as most religions, would the world be a more united place?

If we didn't have a bunch of people walking around pretending they know what's going on in this world, would there be less of a tendency for those that "understand" to control the the sheep?

If science were indeed as “far out and WRONG as most religions”, would we have the technological and scientific marvels we live with today? Obviously not. The world would likely not be a united place. There would likely be more wars, more death from disease, more misery. And as far as those “pretending they know what's going on in this world”, the folks he's disparaging probably do have a better grasp than he does. But most of them also know something this guy doesn't: They know they don't know it all. They know what they don't know, they know they don't have the answers, and that's probably the most important thing they know. But they're also looking for the answers to questions big (cosmological) and small (quantum). Many of the other commenters lambasted this guy for his ignorance.

But what peeves me is that there are a lot of people out there that believe the same thing as this guy, looking upon science as nothing more than just another religion. But true religion deals with faith, putting trust into a higher being without needing proof. It is something of the spirit, of the soul.

On the other hand, science requires proof, requires testing, requires skepticism, requires review by peers. It is something quantified. Religion is not. Religion cannot be measured, can not be plugged into an equation, because it is something intangible that has no metric.

Science is something that requires updating as new things about our universe, big or small, are being discovered. Something is observed or a thought occurs that makes us ask a question. That in turn has us looking into the how or why of the event or thought, which then leads construction a hypothesis. We then test the hypothesis with experiments, analyze the data, and compare it with the hypothesis. If the experiments show that part or all of the hypothesis is wrong, then it is modified based upon the data collected and analyzed and tested again until the data - all the data - can be predicted by the hypothesis. Injecting a religion-like faith into such a cycle means you are either ignoring data that disproves the hypothesis, or you are running a con game.

We've already seen the effects of just this phenomenon when it comes to those confusing science with religion.

One example is the aforementioned cold fusion. Too many are willing to cast it aside because it doesn't fit into the canon of the knee-jerk deniers. They aren't willing to look at the hypothesis with a critical eye and test it. Instead they'll tell you why it can't work or come up with an alternative theory to explain away the observations that prove the hypothesis. They won't actually test the alternative theory because they have faith they are right and that everyone saying different is wrong.

Another wide ranging example is the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming. A number of hypotheses have been put forth, all quite similar. The only problem? They aren't provable or falsifiable. Instead, we're supposed to take it on faith that the hypotheses are right. That's where it ceases to be science and instead becomes a false religion. And that's exactly what AGW is, a false religion.

Data that disproves the hypotheses are ignored or ridiculed as not germane, while other data is so heavily massaged it magically 'proves' the hypothesis. But that same data is totally unrecognizable as it bears no resemblance to the original data set. Again, that's not science but 'religion' masquerading as science.

Science, on the other hand keeps asking these same folks the same questions: “Can you prove it? Can you show us the experiment(s) you used to prove/disprove/refine your hypothesis? How did you analyze your data?” Far too often the answers do not come close to meeting the burden of proof to show their hypotheses aren't worthless.

Because of this, people start questioning the validity of true science, being unable to distinguish between it and the pseudo-scientific 'religious' mumbo jumbo being peddled as science. It's a con game. What makes it worse is that some of the perpetrators don't even realize it's con job, having been fooled by their own beliefs or passions, abandoning tried and true methods for determining what is and isn't true because they know the truth.

Is it any wonder science has been falling out of favor, seen as nothing but yet another failed 'religion'?

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