This seems as good a time as any to examine the tendency of nut-jobs (religious and otherwise) to grab onto minor controversies within the ranks of their opposition and distort them out of all proportion.
The inspiration for today’s posting comes from Jerry Coyne, who pointed me in the direction of this article in The New York Times, with a further reinforcement from a favorite Youtuber of mine, Coffee With Claire.
The NYT story highlights a case of recently discovered academic fraud within the field of social psychology and the faked data of a Dutch researcher. Claire’s latest YouTube offering reminded me of how it will be misused by anti-science zealots as proof that all of “science” is just one big scam, by invoking the logical fallacy of composition (what is true of the part is necessarily true of the whole). Claire does an excellent take-down of this knuckle dragging God slobberer. His YouTube handle is noimplant4me and his video exemplifying the well worn logical fallacy of composition is here.
Claire rightly notes that noimplant4me fails to mention that in every instance of scientific fraud, it is other scientists who are responsible for policing and catching the miscreants. In the case of noimplant4me, this misuse of logic is aimed at supporting the house of cards that is young earth creationism, but I’ve also seen
similar scientific shenanigans leveraged in support of global warning denial.
My noting this tendency will likely have little effect on those who continue to misuse it. That said, I think it is worth mentioning that in this latest example of fraud within the field of social psychology, not much of consequence was really affected. The studies under scrutiny were of the touchy-feely variety and the results, much like religious texts, were manipulated by a man of ignoble character into a framework that fit social convention.
I don’t want to pile on the social psychologists too hard. Sure, most of what they study looks to be about as useful as the beard on my Aunt Bess, but at the end of the day, it’s experts in this field who are responsible for having to make a comprehensible analysis of crazy cultural shit like #atheismplus, so I’ll cut them some slack.
Evolution has not been proven false.