This was an episode of the Simpsons

No seriously, this happened (via Steve Benen):

Every winter, David DeWitt takes his biology class to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, but for a purpose far different from that of other professors.

DeWitt brings his Advanced Creation Studies class (CRST 390, Origins) up from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., hoping to strengthen his students' belief in a biblical view of natural history, even in the lion's den of evolution.

His yearly visit to the Smithsonian is part of a wider movement by creationists to confront Darwinism in some of its most redoubtable secular strongholds. As scientists celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, his doubters are taking themselves on Genesis-based tours of natural history museums, aquariums, geologic sites and even dinosaur parks.

"There's nothing balanced here. It's completely, 100 percent evolution-based," said DeWitt, a professor of biology. "We come every year, because I don't hold anything back from the students."

In the Simpsons episode, when the religious types demanded alternatives to Darwinian evolution be taught in school, Principal Skinner proposed Lamarkian evolution.

In other matters, the Post has published an op-ed by an former Harvard endocrinologist on the virtue of science.  He says it's wrong.  The only serious examples he gives are examples of irresponsible science reporting–that's different.  Here's a piece:

When a group of British academic researchers reported last spring that women fond of eating breakfast cereal were more likely to give birth to boys, the story was lapped up by journalists the world over. "Skip breakfast for a daughter, eat up your cereals for a son," advised the Economist, just one of many publications to seize on the report.

The problem with this fascinating study? It appears to be wrong. An analysis led by Stan Young of the National Institute for Statistical Sciences found that the original conclusion was based on poor statistics and is probably the result of chance.

So far, Young's rebuttal, published in January, has received little notice. That it is ignored by many of the media outlets that lavished attention on the original report isn't surprising; in fact, the most remarkable thing is how ordinary that lack of attention may be. A lot of science, it turns out, can't withstand serious scrutiny. Thoughtful analysis by John Ioannidis suggests that more than half of published scientific research findings can't be replicated by other researchers.

Can the results of that one study about the falsity of scientific research be replicated?  The author doesn't bother to find out.  In any case, that is seriously the only evidence for this startling claim offered in the entire piece.  The rest is anecdotal school sucks kind of stuff.  It does, of course, suck.  And science is mostly wrong, that's the point.  I thought.  Or so I learned in school.  But maybe they were wrong about that.

3 thoughts on “This was an episode of the Simpsons”

  1. On balance, I don’t find the whole piece that awful. Trite perhaps–barely argued certainly. The claim that scientists in the academy have motivations other than knowledge itself is not particularly surprising. Nor the claim that journalists tend to over-amplify individual studies that are attention grabbing. Worth reminding ourselves of this perhaps, like its worth reminding ourselves that politicians don’t always tell the truth and priests aren’t always morally pure.

    The piece is wishy-washy to a fault.

    “Only by discovering our inner scientist can we fully delight in the hope of new research without being seduced by its charms.”

    Really? That’s your solution? I’m sure that will fix everything.

  2. These sorts of stories always seem to confuse “science” as a method of inquiry that generates warranted assertions with “science” as the outcome of the activity, the assertion itself. Take this quote from the above article:

    “A lot of science, it turns out, can’t withstand serious scrutiny”

    There is no such thing as a lot of a method of inquiry. Science is not a thing. Perhaps a lot of assertions generated out of the practice of science will, upon further inspection, lack sufficient warrant. Of course. That doesn’t mean that science can’t withstand serious scrutiny. Science is serious scrutiny.

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