View science with healthy skepticism

Published: May 13, 2013
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Paul Franson (Your Views, May 3) claims that “13,950 peer-reviewed published scientific articles” concluded that “global climate change is real” versus “23 ... that rejected climate change (1991-2012).” However, populartechnology.net refutes this (see “13,950 Meaningless Search Results”) and indexes more than 11,000 peer-reviewed published scientific articles supporting skepticism toward man-made climate change alarmism.

Joseph Maness (Your Views, May 3) argues that “scientists will bend over backward attempting to prove themselves wrong” and “know that all scientific knowledge is conditional, dependent on repeated questioning, testing and confirmation.” Yet leading scientists such as Ernst Mayr, Eugenie Scott, Carl Sagan, George Simpson, Richard Lewontin and Douglas Futuyama, have described evolution as “a fact” rather than the current best explanation. Also, the scientific establishment has never repudiated Al Gore's claims that “the science is settled” and “there is no more debate” concerning climate change.

Rather than bending over backward disproving themselves, scientists more often “rescue” theories from disconfirming evidence by modifying auxiliary hypotheses to protect a core hypothesis from disproof. For example, when his prediction of innumerable transitional fossils failed, Charles Darwin didn't abandon his theory but postulated “the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” Scientific non-tentativeness isn't necessarily bad because it can refine and improve a theory. But non-tentativeness has at times led scientists to oppose theorists outside the scientific consensus such as Ignaz Semmelweis and Joseph Goldberger, costing thousands of lives. Like all human endeavors, science is marred by ideologies and agendas and should therefore be viewed with healthy skepticism.

K.A. Straughn, Norman


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