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Most doctors are not scientists, Ben Carson paper bag edition

Early in the history of this blog, I had a running gag that I’d use every now and then. Basically, it involved humorously extravagant descriptions of how I wanted to hide my face behind a paper bag in sheer embarrassment at the antics of fellow physicians, particularly fellow surgeons. Over time, the gag evolved to my expressing a mock desire to hide my visage behind a metal Doctor Doom-style mask, again, over sheer embarrassment over the idiocy of my colleagues about a scientific issue, again, usually evolution. Sadly, creationist physicians are a very common source of such embarrassment, although I don’t write about them very often any more. They are perhaps the best example to illustrate a point that I’ve made many times: Most physicians are not scientists. While it’s true that being a scientist is by no means a guarantee that one will not be taken in by pseudoscience, it helps. Worse, a disturbing number of physicians fail to abide by Harry Callahan’s wise admonition in Magnum Force:

All too many physicians do not know their limitations, especially with respect to science.

As time went on, I used the gag less and less. As is the case with a lot of gags, it became harder and harder to think of new ways to use it without becoming too repetitive. So it appeared less and less and less, until finally it appeared no more. Indeed, I don’t remember the last time I used it. There was also another issue that contributed to the demise of this recurring joke. I started to encounter physicians with ideas that were worse than just not believing in evolution because they were beliefs that could result in direct harm to patients. I’m referring to the “rise” (if you can call it that) of physicians spewing antivaccine beliefs, doctors like “Dr. Bob” Sears, for instance. These physicians are physicians who betray their profession—and, even worse, their patients. It just wasn’t that funny to me any more.

I’m starting to get that same old familiar feeling about Dr. Ben Carson. Whenever I see him, I want to put a paper bag—or Doctor Doom mask—over my face, the better to hide my shame at a fellow surgeon’s idiocy.

I find the resurrection of this particular feeling in me to be particularly disturbing not just because Carson is a Presidential candidate, thus providing his scientifically ignorant pronouncements far more publicity than they deserve, but because he truly was a magnificent pediatric neurosurgeon. I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before, but I work mere blocks from the Ben Carson High School of Science and Medicine. It’s part of the Detroit Public Schools for students with an aptitude for science and was founded in 2011, before Dr. Carson began his descent into pseudoscience, at least publicly. Back then, Carson was known as a truly gifted—brilliant, even—pediatric neurosurgeon, the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. When Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008, believe me, he deserved it.

So what happened? I was wondering exactly that during the Republican Presidential debate last week, as I cringed.

You might recall how last week I took an opportunity to recount Donald Trump’s long sordid history of antivaccine statements promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism. I did this intentionally because I knew that the second Republican Presidential debate was nearly upon us and I wanted to remind my readers about his history and to prepare them in case the issue came up during the debate. It did.

Given Trump’s history, it’s unnecessary for me to quote what Trump said about vaccines in the second Republican debate last Wednesday because it was virtually identical to what he’s been saying about vaccines since at least 2007 if not before. Still, it’s useful to set up the context. The question that provoked The Donald’s repetition of his oft-repeated antivaccine tropes from the last eight years was not actually directed at him. After making a reference to the measles outbreak that started at Disneyland earlier this year, moderator Jake Tapper actually asked Ben Carson this question: “Dr. Carson, Donald Trump has publicly and repeatedly linked vaccines—childhood vaccines—to autism, which, as you know, the medical community adamantly disputes. You’re a pediatric neurosurgeon. Should Mr. Trump stop saying this?”

It was obvious that Tapper was trying to provoke an argument between Trump and Dr. Carson. Otherwise, he would have just asked Trump directly about his previous statements about vaccines and autism. It was a golden opportunity for Dr. Carson to defend vaccines, given that earlier this year, Dr. Carson had been quoted strongly defending school vaccine mandates:

“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, told The Hill in a statement.

“Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them,” he added.

That’s right. Back in February, Dr. Carson opposed religious and personal belief exemptions to vaccine mandates. Last winter, he published an extensive statement in which, while acknowledging the issue of personal freedom, nonetheless came down on the side of vaccine mandates, stating:

I am very much in favor of parental rights for certain types of things. I am in favor of you and I having the freedom to drive a car. But do we have a right to drive without wearing our seat belts? Do we have a right to text while we are driving? Studies have demonstrated that those are dangerous things to do, so it becomes a public safety issue. You have to be able to separate our rights versus the rights of the society in which we live, because we are all in this thing together. We have to be cognizant of other people around us and we must always bear in mind the safety of the population. That is key and that is one of the responsibilities of government.

I am a small-government person, and I greatly oppose government intrusion into everything. Still, it is essential that we distinguish between those things that are important and those things that are just intruding upon our basic privacy. Whether to participate in childhood immunizations would be an individual choice if individuals were the only ones affected, but as previously mentioned, our children are part of our larger community. None of us live in isolation. Your decision does not affect only you — it also affects your fellow Americans.

This was an eminently reasonable position, acknowledging the balance between individual rights and how they can be constrained when an individual’s choices affect other people. Now, fast forward to September and Carson’s response to Tapper’s question:

Well, let me put it this way. There has — there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism… This was something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago and it has not been adequately, you know, revealed to the public what’s actually going on…

This was technically correct. Incredibly tepid and cowardly, but technically correct, although I don’t know what the heck Carson meant about “this” not having been “adequately revealed to the public what’s actually going on.” It’s not as though it hasn’t been widely publicized that science does not support the claim that vaccines cause autism and that Andrew Wakefield’s research was fraudulent. Then, whether it’s because he didn’t want to attack Trump or didn’t want to upset the Republican base (perhaps both) Carson went to undermine what he just said:

Vaccines are very important. Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling. There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don’t fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases.

First of all, as Tara Haelle pointed out, all the vaccines on the current CDC schedule prevent death and severe morbidity. Which ones does Dr. Carson consider “discretionary”? I’d love to hear his answer. Later, after Trump once again channeled Jenny McCarthy and her “too many too soon” misinformation, in which it is claimed that children are receiving too many vaccines at too high a dose at too young an age (or, as Trump has put it, “monster shots”) and it is advocated that vaccines be delayed and spread out, Carson actually bought into this antivaccine gambit, saying, “But it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time, and a lot of pediatricians now recognize that and, I think, are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done.” The only pediatricians who “recognize that” are antivaccine pediatricians like “Dr. Bob” Sears and antivaccine-sympathetic pediatricians like Dr. Jay Gordon. Delaying and spreading out vaccines just prolongs the time when children are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases without any benefit.

Basically, Dr. Carson flubbed a chance to hit a home run defending vaccines. Whether it was his fear of Trump or his fear of his own base, he equivocated, parroted one antivaccine talking point (“too many too soon”) and in the end refused to tell Trump to his face to stop spewing antivaccine misinformation. It was an epic fail. Worse, it was an epic fail in which he basically gave supported antivaccine fallacies, such as the idea that we’re giving “too many” vaccines “too soon” and it’s somehow causing autism. During the same debate Rand Paul, also a physician and surgeon (an ophthalmologist) also implied that there was a problem with “too many too soon,” consistent with his previous antivaccine statements. Overall, I’m not sure which was worse, Ben Carson knowing that antivaccine BS is BS but being too cowardly to say so (leading him instead to pander) or Rand Paul clearly believing that vaccines can cause neurologic damage and that “too many too soon” can harm children.

I wouldn’t be writing about Ben Carson, though, if it were only vaccines. Arguably, Carson knows what is and isn’t antivaccine misinformation; he simply chose not to stand up for science. However, in other areas of science, he’s outright taken the side of antiscience. For example, he’s long been known to reject evolution in favor of creationism, even to the point of arguing that evolution is “encouraged by Satan” and that the Big Bang is a “fairy tale“:

At the Celebration of Creation event, he discussed at length why he believes the Big Bang theory is impossible for him to comprehend.
He said: ‘Now, what about the Big Bang theory? I find the Big Bang really quite fascinating.’

‘I mean here you have all these high-faluting scientists and they’re saying it was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order.’

He explains the same scientists promote the second law of thermodynamics – entropy – which says that things move towards a state of disorganization.
‘So now you’re gonna have this big explosion and everything becomes perfectly organized and when you ask them about it they say “Well, we can explain this based on probability theory because if there’s enough big explosions over a long enough period of time – billions and billions of years – one of them will be the perfect explosion”.

‘So I say, what you’re telling me is if I blow a hurricane through a junkyard enough times over billions and billions of years, eventually, after one of those hurricanes, there will be a 747 fully-loaded and ready to fly?’

Skeptics will recognize the “hurricane in a junkyard” mischaracterization of evolution as a classic creationist fallacy. It gets worse, though. Check out this transcript of the actual speech by Carson at the Celebration of Creation conference, which was organized by the Adventist News Network. Here’s the actual video. It is painful to watch if you have any knowledge about evolution, geology, and other sciences:

As Ed Brayton put it, this is Kent Hovind-level scientific ignorance. It’s a greatest hits of creationist tropes, dominated by the most scientifically ignorant, easiest-to-refute bits of creationist stupidity. Here’s but another taste:

You know, according to the theory [of evolution] it [the eye] had to go pukh! and there was an eyeball, overnight, just like that, because it wouldn’t work in any other way. And when you ask the evolutionists about that they say, ‘well, we don’t understand everything.’ And I say, ‘well, I don’t think you understand anything.’

The evolution of the eye is actually relatively well understood. Seriously, Dr. Carson. Your stupid, it burns.

So why is it that so many physicians fall for pseudoscience like antivaccine views (as Rand Paul, Bob Sears, and Jay Gordon do) and creationism (which Ben Carson and his fellow creationist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor do)? Why are so many surgeons and physicians like Ben Carson? We’ve seen their like before on this blog over the years, ranging from the infamous creationist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to the antivaccine pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears to the antivaccine-pandering pediatrician “Dr. Jay” Gordon. In all cases, the physician shows that he doesn’t understand science and as a result adopts purely pseudoscientific beliefs, be they creationism, antivaccine views, Big Bang rejection, or any number of beliefs not supported by science. The reason is simple, and my saying what it is might piss off some of my fellow physicians. The vast majority of physicians are not scientists. Many of them think that they are scientists, but they are not.

It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed this, but Dr. Carson’s rise as a major candidate for the Republican nomination demands that I discuss it again because Dr. Carson is taking advantage of a misperception. That misperception is that physicians are scientists. Of course, so deep has been the idiocy flowing fast and furious from his mouth that Andy Borowitz posted what I consider to be the most hilarious take on Carson’s nonsense, Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart. Particularly hilarious was this part:

“When people found out I was a brain surgeon they would always assume I was some kind of a genius,” said Harland Dorrinson, a neurosurgeon in Toledo, Ohio. “Now they are beginning to understand that you can know a lot about brain surgery and virtually nothing about anything else.”

Exactly. That’s the case with most physicians.

The reason is simple. Medical training is not the same as scientific training. Yes, science is a prominent part of medical training, but not in the same way it is for scientists. In actuality, although medicine is based in science, it is an applied science. The vast majority of physicians do not do scientific investigation or contribute to scientific knowledge. Rather, they apply known science to the treatment of patients. This is not a knock on them, or an insult, or a criticism. It is simply an acknowledgement of what most medicine is. Medical school is very much more like a trade school, in which students are taught how to take care of patients, than a school teaching how to do science. Basically, medicine as a profession resembles engineering far more than a scientific specialty in that the vast majority of physicians apply science to the problem of diagnosing and treating illness, as engineers apply science to the problem of building things. Again, this is not a knock on either physicians or engineers. How they apply existing science to solve problems (or, in the case of engineers, to build things) can involve incredibly clever feats of mental prowess, but it is nonetheless a very different process than doing science to produce new scientific knowledge.

None of this is to say that physicians (or engineers) can’t be excellent scientists. They can, but such people tend to be a subset of the overall profession. For example, I like to think of myself as a decent scientist, and my publication and funding record indicate that I’ve had some success. I also made it a point to gain additional training by spending years getting a PhD and doing a surgical oncology fellowship that had a significant laboratory research component very much like a traditional basic science postdoctoral fellowship. I also have to point out that I’ve known many physicians who are also excellent scientists.

As an MD/PhD, I’ve straddled both worlds, the world of the clinician and surgeon and the world of the basic scientist. It’s not an easy task, because both worlds require very different skill sets, particularly in surgery. Wearing two hats is not something all doctors can do. For example, when I entered medical school (and I attended what was—and is still—considered to be one of the top tier medical schools in the country) I was surprised at how superficial the teaching of basic science was, from a strictly scientific standpoint. However, from a practical standpoint, the teaching of science in medical school was exactly what was required to take care of patients, no more, no less. For most physicians, that is as it should be. They need to know how to take care of patients, not how to do research.

But, I hear you saying, Ben Carson is a lot like Dr. Mehmet Oz. Before he became a politician, he was an academic neurosurgeon; Dr. Oz still is one. Both have published over a hundred papers. Yet, both have embraced pseudoscience, with Dr. Oz embracing a wide variety of quackery (such as reiki and homeopathy) and Dr. Carson embracing creationist pseudoscience, among other dubious scientific ideas. It’s at this point that I have to speculate a bit. One thing that comes to mind is that if you don’t have the solid grounding in the very philosophy of science, such that it infuses your very being, sure you can do clinical science. You can even be pretty successful at it, as Oz and Carson were. So that’s not it, at least not by itself.

So what is the problem? From my perspective, it boils down to two things. The first is not listening to Harry Callahan’s admonition that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Surgeons—particularly heart surgeons and neurosurgeons—do amazing things. Dr. Oz can repair a person’s heart, and Dr. Carson can separate conjoined twins. These are matters of life and death, and doing such things requires a level of confidence in one’s own abilities that can easily evolve into arrogance. (Some might argue that most surgeons are pretty arrogant at a certain level to begin with.) So it’s not surprising that doctors like Drs. Oz and Carson might start to think that their incredible skills and knowledge in one area will translate into other areas, such as science unrelated to the narrow specialty they know. The second contributing factor is ideology and/or personal relationships. In Dr. Oz’s case, he became enamored of the idea of the physician-shaman-healer, not to mention that he also married a reiki master. In Dr. Carson’s case, it’s clearly fundamentalist religion that’s led him to reject evolution and the Big Bang in favor of what seems to be a variant of intelligent design creationism. Basically, Ben Carson is now coming across like the brain surgeon in this classic Mitchell and Webb sketch:

Doctors occupy a highly privileged position in society, and because of it their opinions are often given great deference, even on topics about which they are clearly not an expert. For all their accomplishments, it’s nonetheless important to remember that physicians are human and thus prone to the same cognitive shortcomings to which all human beings are prone. All too often, they are also given a status in society as all-purpose experts about all things that can be related to human biology or medicine, including evolutionary biology. The reason that Borowitz article is so spot on devastating is that it states just that in a humorous fashion and uses the example of Ben Carson to deconstruct the idea that brain surgeons are experts at everything. They’re not. Nor are most of them scientists. Their pronouncements outside of their areas of expertise should be judged as you would judge anyone else’s. On matters of science outside of their specialty most doctors are probably no more knowledgeable than an educated lay person and all too often let their professional status delude them into having undue confidence in their conclusions. It’s the sort of behavior we expect from a buffoon like Donald Trump. It’s just depressing to see Ben Carson behaving similarly, albeit with a much less bombastic voice.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

219 replies on “Most doctors are not scientists, Ben Carson paper bag edition”

In my many years of working in research labs, I’ve seen a lot of medical students rotate through. They are a very mixed bag: some of them lack a comprehension of the practice of research, others were sharp, driven and great scientists.

Orac nails it here, though. Education and experience that focuses on practical applications of medicine doesn’t qualify one to expound on theory and basic science. I would hazard a guess that Bert Vogelstein isn’t your best choice for tumor removal, although his work has advanced our understanding of cancer possibly more than any other living person.

By coincidence I’ve been wondering how scientific the typical pharmacist is. At my weekly discussion group my topic was an article about TCM which mentioned James Reston’s use of acupuncture as a purported anesthetic in China back in the 70s. I explained why acupuncture is nothing more than show business masquerading as healthcare and, not unexpectedly, I was countered by arguments and disbelief from two of the attendees. My attempt at explanation (placebo, regression to the mean, etc.) was countered with not only disagreement, but with some animosity. Two men vociferously objected, stating beyond all shadow of doubt that they were absolutely cured of their chronic pain by acupuncture with a degree of certainty that approached 100%! Sadly, one man is a pharmacist, a profession that I expect might require a modicum of familiarity with science and the scientific method. But when I asked the pharmacist if he even knew what the scientific method is he responded with a blank stare. At that point I yielded the floor to the next person in line. Some days I wonder why I even bother to explain simple things to my fellow human beings…

Maybe Carson genuinely believes in creationism,

His flip-flop on vaccines suggests that he is seeing a path to the GOP nomination, and has calculated that there are more votes in appealing to fear and dislike for “experts” than in supporting sound science.

It is not unusual for politicians to compromise their integrity in direct correlation to their ambition for higher office.

#3
“…appealing to fear” “…”dislike for “experts””

Isn’t this required to be tatooed on your ass cheeks when you join the GOP?

Dangerous Bacon @3

Dr. Carson is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist faith. The founder of SDA _invented_ 6-day/6,000year creationism, in the late XIXth Century. SDA George MacCready Price _invented_ so-called Flood Geology in the 1920s.

IINM, but there was an attempt, in the 1970s or ”80s, to transplant a baboon heart into an infant. It wasn’t successful, and the SDA surgeon didn’t know why it wouldn’t be, since evolution wasn’t a real thing.

Orac you can’t be that naive or blind-sighted.Dr. Carson knows what he is saying is a steaming pile of fetid dingo kidneys.Unlike Trump,Carson,can’t really believe the nonsense he is spewing.When Carson decided to run for President,he ceased to be a neurosurgeon,and became simply another Republican politician.A man who will say anything to appeal to the base of the party to get elected. There are those that will deny it,but the broad base of the GOP is anti-science,and anti-vaccince.

There is only one man who has run for President in the last 70 years who has said same stuff for over fifty years.

@5 It was Baby Fae. The baboon blood type was AB and Fae’s was O. And yes, when asked why he didn’t choose a primate closer to humans on the evolutionary chart, the doctor said “I don’t believe in evolution.” 1984

@ Orac:

Whenever you feel awfully about doctors or surgeons behaving badly/ spouting woo- remember it could be worse, you could be a psychologist -your paper bag would wear out rather quickly from over-use.

You’re right, Orac, physicians aren’t scientists; we’re technicians. But sometimes we are also the closest thing to a scientist that our patients will meet, and I think we have an obligation to defend and promote the scientific method wherever we can. Most of us will do nothing to expand scientific knowledge, but without someone making those discoveries we can do nothing at all. Of course we should promote science at all opportunities. That’s why it makes me a bit mad when my colleagues are overly complacent about patients pursuing non-treatments like acupuncture and homeopathy. “If it makes them feel better…” translates into “I am being complicit in a lie…” if you smile and say nothing.

The medical profession in the US seems to attract a disproportionate share of hubristic SOBs, and surgeons have a reputation for being disproportionately hubristic SOBs compared to other MDs. That’s one of the things that makes MDs vulnerable to Dunning-Kruger syndrome. Some of it is woo pushing, yes. There are other aspects, too: MDs have a reputation for being particularly poor investors, to such an extent that you should be wary of financial advisors whose offices are in close proximity to hospitals.

Carson is an extreme example, and I can understand why Orac feels like putting a paper bag on his head. Certain of my fellow physicists make me feel the same way: most notoriously Brian Josephson (a Nobel Prize winner who subsequently went emeritus), but there are one or two others I have actually met.

Hey, the people all want their pleasing lies, and they’re willing to pay damn good money for it. Everything else follows downhill from there. Grifters like Carson and Oz are just serving the marketplace; even easier if they buy into the same horseshit themselves.

I guess that’s what happens when unbounded narcissism is repeatedly cultured over basic honesty and earned, not entitled, self-respect. Why know your limitations when you can simply believe them away? Especially when you can now do so twice as effectively for the low, low price of $29.95?

I have to admit, I haven’t made it through this entire article. Looks like more of the same.
Like this near-1700 comment classic: http://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/05/20/why-do-doctors-deny-evolution/#comment-399721

Or the even bigger
http://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/07/27/when-the-antiabortion-movement-meets-the-antivaccine-movement/#comment-416134

Maybe it’s like the old joke about
‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’

But it’s
‘Those who can, are doctors; those who can’t, are “scientists”.’

Lancelot [email protected]:

That’s why it makes me a bit mad when my colleagues are overly complacent about patients pursuing non-treatments like acupuncture and homeopathy. “If it makes them feel better…” translates into “I am being complicit in a lie…” if you smile and say nothing.

If nothing else, they ought to be rigorously honest in calling it for what it actually is: Go away and stop bothering me medicine.

That at least would enable patients to distinguish physicians who’ve had enough of their hypochondriac shenanigans (or just don’t like sick people in the first place) from those who have genuinely disappeared up the feculent rectum of woo and thus don’t even warrant the title of “doctor” any more.

Physicians are expected to know everything, and some of them think they do. No one else is entitled to be addressed as “Doctor” outside the office; most Ph.D.’s feel silly being addressed that way at work. Doctors put “M.D.” after their name in letters to the editor, as if to give extra weight to their opinions on subjects ranging from zoning to international terrorism.

@has (15): I think he got lonely, since we got bored and left. So now he’s here hoping to stir things up again. Since his comment added nothing to the discussion, I’m leaving him killfiled.

(back on topic) As a nurse with APN training, I’d have to agree that some doctors have a very clear “god” complex – that the letters MD or DO after their name makes them all knowing and all powerful. It appears in many surgeons and I suspect is due to the residency training they go through, especially those who do specialties. I have a few stories but won’t put them down here (although one I will always remember for my rejoinder to the sr resident – “does Betadine CLOT???” I nearly gave my head nurse a heart attack.)

Who garners more respect than a cardiac or brain surgeon among the general public? Those doctors *physically* hold your life in their hands while doing surgery. So they absorb the adoration and think they are better than anyone else.

I respect those doctors who can say “I don’t know” about things outside their specialty. I had a lot of respect for Dr Carson until he started running for president and showed how much he doesn’t know about being a real leader.

Eric Lund — a particularly harmful variant of Physics Dunning-Kruger these days are the small subset of physicists who figure that climate scientists can’t possibly know what they’re talking about, or if they do it can’t possibly be as bad as they say, or what have you.

Rich Muller, to his credit, changed his tune when he went and re-analyzed the temperature record on his own, and discovered that, by golly, the surface temperature really is skyrocketing at a historically unprecedented rate.

Steve Koonin, on the other hand, has no excuse.

Spot on, Orac. Being a physician does not mean one is or has been a scientist. I, too, found the medical school science classes rather shallow in teaching science to medical students. With my undergraduate physics experience and PhD in neuroscience with a postdoc as well, there were times I felt like I was back in undergraduate classes and also felt that a lot of the medical students either couldn’t get it or didn’t want to get it when any science was taught.

I’m not doing research now and am strictly clinical as a pediatrician. I do miss the lab greatly, but I don’t think I could wear both hats as you do and not burn out doing it. But that scientific training I’ve had still serves me well, especially when it comes to anti-vaccinationists.

Carson probably had no big issue refuting (albeit weakly) Trump on any link between vaccines and autism. It’s not a big limb to go out on given that Wakefield has been discredited and de-licensed and no studies since have supported his fraudulent claim. Carson, however, did not oppose alternate vaccine schedules in part, I suspect, because those anti-vaccine pediatricians (Sears and Gordon) have received no profession rebuke or censure for their clearly wrong and dangerous positions on vaccines. And people think that Sears and Gordon are scientist–and they are not one bit scientist.

It feels like the proverbial hens coming home to roost after almost 10 years or AV pediatricians profiting and preaching their nonsense without any large-group opposition. This has in turn also given the NVIC more undeserved credibility. I am ashamed that those who should have taken on and taken down Sears and Gordon (the AAP and the CA Medical Board) have refused to do.

As a scientist, I’ve seen plenty of MDs (whether still undergrads doing internships or MD/PhDs, or graduated MDs doing a MSc or PhD) in the lab, coming without much idea how a lab works. That’s par for the course for pretty much any newcomer, actually. What’s galling quite often is their attitude. They act as if they are better than us, because their are in medicine, yet they are emperors often without clothes (but with much better salaries). Having a non-physician telling them what to do in a lab seems difficult for those. And we often see the attitude that our work counts less than theirs…

Chris [email protected]:

I, too, found the medical school science classes rather shallow in teaching science to medical students.

This particular problem goes right the way back to high school though. All the emphasis there is on memorizing facts and performing equations, much as you teach a small dog to jump through decorated hoops. Students pick up the form but not the substance; develop mimickry rather than understanding. It is a very bad way to start, for how then can they distinguish one apparent form of ritual from another, or even be aware there is a difference?

Personally I think if STEM education was done right, it’d spend a good quarter on the *history* and *philosophy* of science and math, with no shyness about bringing technological tools to bear on the rest (better to learn relationships through interactive computer simulations, for example, than develop no understanding at all simply due to a weakness in math). Which would also have the significant bonus of making science vastly more relevant and accessible to all those students who aren’t into it for the math jiggery and minor explosions (amusing though the latter may be). And then perhaps we might not have quite so much magical thinking in the first place.

Obligatory Feynman, natch:

http://v.cx/2010/04/feynman-brazil-education

http://www.textbookleague.org/103feyn.htm

@ 20 MI Dawn

If tattooed there, how could they possibly read it?

When doing the daily “insert head” exercise?

@palindrom: Yes, I was aware of the physicist climate-denier loons. They are especially facepalm-worthy because to get to that position you have to ignore things like conservation of energy. If the energy absorbed from the sun by the earth isn’t all radiated away, it has to go somewhere–like raising the temperature of the earth until the two are in balance again.

But those aren’t the people I was referring to. I have personally met at least one physicist who is a fundamentalist Christian. He’s never been explicit with me about his views on creationism, but I have no reason to think he isn’t a YEC. This guy is so out there that (according to the rumor mill) he managed to get fired from a tenure-track position in Alabama (!) for pushing his version of Christianity a bit too hard. PZ Myers had a post on the guy a few months back.

@ has (#25).

I saw Feynman speak in the mid 80’s at my college. It was amazing to see him take apart a problem. He took questions from us students (on anything) and showed what it meant to really understand something.

In grad school I did teach an undergraduate physics lab for pre-med students. I was aghast at how often students just wanted to give a memorized answer to each write-up question (just like in the Brazil reference).

And, Orac, regarding limitations, that is so true as well. I am a pediatrician. I know pediatric medicine, including, of course, vaccines. I wouldn’t pretend to have medical expertise in the areas where Drs. Carson, Oz, or Paul specialize. But they don’t have that appreciation of their limitations when it comes to vaccines and their political need to publicize their opinion is what so angers those of us trying to maintain US vaccination rates so as to prevent more Disneyland-type outbreaks.

This is probably one of the biggest reasons that I believe MDs should stick with the label “physician” and PhDs “doctor”. Why? Because MDs are essentially a trade degree whereas PhD scientists have obtained terminal degrees and been taught basic science so they may understand underlying principles of disease. It may be an unpopular opinion, but it would help to delineate those that are trained as physicians/MD’s vs. those that are trained to be experts in scientific data. Just a thought.

Eric L — I know at least one deeply religious physicist, but at least he accepts that the earth is not young — if I recall, he thinks of Genesis as a metaphor for the Big Bang. He also works in an area in which natural history isn’t important. Same area as yours, actually.

I don’t know if people have seen this old blog post from a fundamentalist biology professor named Todd Wood — it’s about the only intellectually honest thing I’ve seen from that side of the fence, though I find it jaw-droppingly strainge:

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html

Multi-Quoted:

“…appealing to fear” “…”dislike for “experts””

Isn’t this required to be tatooed on your ass cheeks when you join the GOP?
Garou @#4
If tattooed there, how could they possibly read it?

…. yep, that’s where there heads are anyway.

“They act as if they are better than us, because their are in medicine, yet they are emperors often without clothes (but with much better salaries).”

(resists temptation to make nasty crack about spelling, succumbs to temptation to say that our new clothes are better styled)

DB, M.D. (plus I have a Masters’ degree in Science!)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to resist the impulse to slap hand to forehead when having a discussion with a colleague about science outside of medicine. What’s more concerning to me, though, are the occasions were I see a lapse in critical thinking as it applies to medicine. To give an example in microcosm: when confronted with a well-designed study, or better yet, an emerging consensus of studies on a medical topic, the contrary response I often hear is “Well, I’ve always done it a different way, and it’s never been an issue!” I feel fortunate to have been trained with a solid grounding in evidence-based medicine, but clearly the lure of anecdotes and “going with your gut” is often hard to resist. Add motivated reasoning to the mix, as in the case of religious or other long-held beliefs, and it’s not hard to see why physicians deviate from the scientific method both in and out of their areas of expertise. It helps to have training (and therefore practice) in the lab or in research, but ultimately, it takes a commitment to a certain type (a scientific type) of thinking not to get lost in the weeds.

I work with lots of doctors, nurses and scientists. My observation is that the former, doctors and nurses, are very good at confidently explaining information (even in a handful of rare instances where they’ve been dead wrong). Their jobs depend on them being able to reassure patients that they know what they’re talking about. The scientists I work with, however, are always careful to explain the limits of their knowledge – no, we can’t say x, we have to say probably between x and y under certain conditions. It’s a sort of professional embodiment of the idea that the first steps to knowledge are admitting you know nothing.

I had a surprising experience with this when my first child was born in 2013. Both my own primary care provider and my daughter’s pediatrician recommended that I delay vaccinations and eliminate some entirely. They both cited their own experience with patients who had serious adverse effects as the reason why they don’t follow the CDC schedule. And yes, they said they had witnessed healthy kids develop autism after being vaccinated. Apparently, this viewpoint is not that uncommon – see “Vaccination practices among physicians and their children” from Open Journal of Pediatrics, 2012, 2, 228-235 which finds that since 2009, 21% of pediatric specialists would NOT follow the CDC schedule for their own children. Has anyone else had a similar experience??

Since climate change has already been brought up in the comments above, and since I had no luck posting this on a nearby blog, I’ll try posting it here.

Three items:

1)
I’m always fascinated by how much emphasis scientists and alleged lovers of science put on “consensus”.
Obviously, “consensus” has no necessary relationship to truth.
“Consensus” is a word used, and a goal sought, by politicians, not truth-seekers.
But for what it’s worth…
……..
2)
I hadn’t heard of this group before, but anyway…
“31,487 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhDs”
http://www.petitionproject.org
………..
3)
George Mason University conducted a survey regarding global warming of the 7,000+ voting members of the American Meteorological Society. The survey drew enough interest only for about 1,800 responses.
Some responses to questions I found noteworthy:

Question 4: Over the next 100 years, how harmful or beneficial do you think global warming will be to people and society, if nothing is done to address it?
38% – Very harmful.
62% – Very beneficial to somewhat harmful, and “Don’t know”

Question 5: ‘How much global warming harm can be prevented through our actions?’
22% – All or a large amount of GW harm can be prevented.
78% – No amount to a moderate amount of GW harm can be prevented, and “I don’t know”.
http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/report/american-meteorological-society-member-survey-global-warming-preliminary-findings-february

Factoid quoted above: 62% of meteorologists surveyed that global warming will be beneficial to somewhat harmful or don’t know.

I can trump that: Did you know that 63% of dentists surveyed believe that an endoscopic transnasal approach is the optimal approach to the craniocervical junction in brain surgery?

Now the tough question: Do you know why the two factoids are comparable??

No profession, no manner of training, is exempt from participants who can perform the tasks at hand well enough, but are otherwise… well, mad as a hatter. Carson appears to be one such outlier, having now proposed so many bizarre (and clearly unconstiutional) policies “loony paranoid loon” is the sort of label critics are applying to him.

FWTW, looking at the popularity of GOP candidates as a whole, I don’t think Carson’s appeal has anything to do with people imagining he has scientific credentials or knowledge. Quite the opposite. Charles Pierce has labeled The Donald’s appeal as a form of Magical Thinking, and suggested (as have others) the same applies to Carson and Fiorina as well. All three are presenting grossly simplistic and/or unrealistic proposals – ‘let’s build a wall to keep out the Muslims!’ And all three are standing behind “qualifications” that are utter BS upon examination. Fiorina and Trump are supposed aces in business, but Fiorina is considered THE paradigmatic ‘horrible CEO’ by virtually everyone in the NoCal tech sector, and Trump having had numerous business failures, only plays an infallible CEO on “reality TV”. Carson’s talking points are about as far removed from any knowledge base he might have as a surgeon as you can get: condemn Muslims, establish a 10% flat tax and balance the budget, unleash the dogs of war against Putin and the A-rabs, condemn Muslims, keep Gitmo open, free Kim Davis and ban gay marriage, bring God back into government, NO gun control, and condemn Muslims.

Pierce wrote:

[Trump] is the inevitable product of anyone who ever argued that our political institutions should be run “like a business…” of anyone who ever argued [the government can] balance its books “the way any American family would….” of the economy that was deregulated out of a well-cultivated wonder and awe directed at the various masters of the universe. Sooner or later, all of this misbegotten magical thinking was going to burp up a clown like Donald Trump. The politics of this country have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of hallucinations today.

What Pierce misses here is the element that has propelled the candidates offering nothing but magical thinking about easy ‘tough-guy’ fixes to national problems to now command over 52% support combined (Trump + Carson + Fiorina) in the GOP polls, where in previous presidential election cycles, candidates with similar positions either garnered only fringe support or had brief bursts of interest followed by a precipitous decline. Trump, Carson and Fiorina are all not only ‘outsiders’, but all three present their halluncinatory platitudes with a tone of hyper-confidence, unshakable rectitude, absolute commitment, and refusal to back down or compromise.

Thus, while Carson may come by this in part from the stereotypical ‘God’-complex of “disproportionately hubristic SOB” surgeons, what is appealing to his supporters is simply the bombastic ‘tude he shares with Donald and Carly. The poll respondants want a maximally-hubristic SOB, and any excuse for the candidate to act that way works as well as another.

As bad as Carson’s sh!t may be, it’s not drawing flies because anyone thinks he’s a scientist, or even because the opinions of physicians typically receive great deference. Being an M.D. isn’t doing wonders for Rand Paul (a whopping 2.3%, lowest among the ‘main stage’ candidates… even Huckabee is at 3.5%), nor did it do wonders for Bill Frist. As elected officials, they just can’t talk like that.

Ted Cruz arguably rivals the poll leaders in bombast, but he comes off too canned and calculated… ironic in that he’s undoubtedly MUCH more of a ‘true believer’ than Trump or Fiorina. They just sound more ‘authentic’ to the paranoid ear, apparently. And perhaps not being able to present himself as anything other than a politician hurts his numbers as well…. So let that be our label for Carson’s background as perceived by the massive majority of his supporters: not ‘scientist’ or ‘miracle-working surgeon’; just ‘NOT a politician!’

@ Opus:

I know! I know!

Because…

dentists : brain surgeons
is analogous to
TV weather reporters : climatologists

…with the exception that the ‘meteorologists’ tend to be better-looking and more skilled at reading from teleprompters while standing in front of chroma-key drops than the dentists.

@ sadmar:

But dentists have nitrous oxide! Beats a chroma-key seven days a week. Twice on Sundays.

Ted Cruz arguably rivals the poll leaders in bombast, but he comes off too canned and calculated… ironic in that he’s undoubtedly MUCH more of a ‘true believer’ than Trump or Fiorina. They just sound more ‘authentic’ to the paranoid ear, apparently.

Cruz came by his opportunistic theocratic grifting the easy way, by inheriting it from his dad. Carson is more authentic because he earned his opportunistic theocratic grifting, by rejecting the foundational tenets of his nominal religion (for all its sectarian whackyness, 7th-Day Adventism is inflexible on the issue of church / state separation); in the eyes of the fundamentalist voters, this makes him more religious.

But the bulk of the christianist Values Voters seem to be lining up behind Trump, because he has no discernible values and makes no attempt to present himself as christian.

@has (15): I think he got lonely, since we got bored and left. So now he’s here hoping to stir things up again. Since his comment added nothing to the discussion, I’m leaving him killfiled.

Wise choice. In the meantime, he’s been banned by Jason Rosenhouse (as a bonus, after fraudulently stating that “I’m not allowed to post on Greg Laden’s articles” despite promptly oozing right over there afterward).

His desperate, wretched antics have been reminding me repeatedly of late of Fr. Thomas Reese’s recent remark in NCR:*

“The third reason the pope’s message may get through is that Francis is an extraordinary communicator in both words and actions. He knows how to use simple language to communicate. He is not afraid to use graphic images when speaking. He avoids academic language and abstractions. He preaches the Gospel, not the catechism. He is more interested in how people live their faith than how they articulate it.”

This ordering of things is obviously a straight-up recipe for an S.N. fistula in ano, Kaz Matsui disease, or something closely related.

* I’m out of links; h[]tp://ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/will-we-listen-pope-francis

When I see Ben Carson in action I think of these little aphorisms by Robert A. Heinlein.

“An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he finally knows everything about nothing at all.”

And…

“Expertise in one field does not lead to expertise in another, but experts often seem to think so. In fact the narrower their field of expertise the more likely they are to think this.”

Regarding an earlier comment by he-who-shall-not-be-named: The whinging about consensus =/= science, the meteorologists, and even the laughable Oregon petition (!) are points-refuted-a-thousand-times, plus there are feeding regulations to consider, so I’m not even bothering. For once.

@ Taylor #40.

As a pediatrician I don’t know any other pediatrician in Tucson who prefers any “alternative”r schedule to the CDC schedule. I do know a lot of pediatricians (myself included) who are frustrated with parents requesting an “alternative” schedule because they’ve read some nonsense on the internet or been mislead by the lies spread by one despicable self-serving quack named Robert Sears, MD, FAAP.

lies spread by one despicable self-serving quack named Robert Sears,

C’mon Chris — tell us how you really feel!

(And with every justification, I might add.)

You’re probably being totally unfair, by the way. I imagine that Jay Gordon may have something to do with it, too.

Those are nice quotes by Heinlein (via Romantic Heretic) and are a reminder that surgeons aren’t unique in needing an embarrassment-shield paper bag. I really should bring mine to every faculty meeting at my liberal arts college.

On a depressing note for Friday: if you do a search on amazon.com under “vaccination”, the great majority of books that turn up in the first few pages of the search are antivax books.

They include this recently published tome by an apparent chiro-and-spouse team:

http://www.amazon.com/How-Vaccines-Wreck-Human-Immunity-ebook/dp/B013RYIONU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

I mention this partly to note an unusual disclaimer I’ve never seen before. The authors “certify” that “at least one” statement in their book and/or on their websites is wrong. This seemingly is intended to immunize them against legal jeopardy.
The same disclaimer appears in another book by the female half of the team, “Melting Breast Lumps” (which explains that breast cancer is due to bad nutrition.)

I’m pretty confident that their disclaimer is correct.

To Orac:

Regarding your #51…

“For example, the scientific consensus supporting the theory of evolution, particularly common descent, is exceedingly strong. Based on multiple lines of converging evidence from many different disciplines, evolution one of the strongest of all scientific consensuses. Similarly, the consensus that natural selection is one major driving force behind much of evolution is nearly as strong. However, as the discussion devolves into more detailed areas, inevitably the consensus weakens. Eventually, subsidiary areas of a discipline are reached where the consensus is weak or where there is no consensus. Often these questions are at the frontiers of the science and, because there is not yet a consensus, the most heavily researched and hotly contested areas of the science. Denialists often attack science at the very edges of a field as a proxy for attacking the much more strongly supported core theory…to hide the fact that the core theory of evolution is supported by mountains of evidence and not in doubt by scientists.”

I believed in evolution for about 30 years. I started DIS-believing in evolution when I began reading about its DETAILS, from the evolutionists’ mouths.
In EACH and EVERY case, I found the details ludicrous or, at a minimum, unconvincing.
I’ll use your metaphor of the “mountains of evidence”:
Each and every time I found a problem with the cow chip of detail I was given, I was told
“You don’t like that cow chip? That’s OK. We’ve got other cow chips. Let me get you another from the mountain of manure we have back yonder.”

What a bunch of B.S.
Or C.S.

Perhaps another metaphor – “the Tree of Life”: Oh, you’ll have significant disagreements about the branches, but you all agree about the trunk. Except you don’t know, and don’t agree on, what the trunk IS (i.e. What the universal common is.).

(And as you probably know, the iconic “Tree of Life”, still probably appearing in school textbooks, was essentially chopped down by the evolutionists years ago. Too problematic. Now they’re talking “bushes”/multiple trunks.)
…………………
“Creationists like Casey Luskin, for instance, spit the term “Darwinist” at evolutionary biologists and frequently try to link evolution (and thus its defenders) Nazi-ism and the Holocaust, eugenics, social Darwinism, and all manner of evils. Above all, evolutionists must be atheists…”

Firstly, I’d say all atheists are evolutionists, but not all evolutionists are atheists.

Secondly, it’s quite true, I think, that a positive correlation exists between belief in evolution and many other things I find objectionable. As I’ve said before in these blogs, the increasing acceptance of evolution seems positively correlated with the increasing acceptance of, or increasing incidence of,
– abortion,
– contraception,
– population decline,
– fornication,
– divorce,
– extended or perpetual singlehood,
– out-of-wedlock births,
– homosexual lifestyle and gay marriage,
– sexually-transmitted diseases,
– pornography,
– drug addiction,
– depression and dysphoria,
– social isolation/disintegration of community,
– socialistic government programs
…….
“Richards apparently doeesn’t know the difference between scientific theory and scientific fact. That salt is sodium chloride is a fact. That light travels 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum is a measurement and a fact. That blood carries oxygen to our organs is a fact. Of course, no one argues about them; they are well-settled facts, not theories. They are trivially obvious. Arguing about them would be as trivial as arguing about what I had for breakfast this morning or whether the above paragraph by Richards represents the essence of scientific ignorance. A theory is a higher level construct supported by facts, experimentation, and evidence.”

So, at least you’d agree that evolution is not a scientific fact.
That’s mildly encouraging.

@Taylor #40 and Chris Hickie #52:

“Open Journal of Pediatrics” is published by SCIRP. That outfit is commonly viewed as a predatory publisher, with obvious implications for the reliability of any data or conclusions published therein.

[email protected]: Given that it’s now just outright spamming and not even pretending to engage, I’d say Mr Rosenhouse is fully justified in doing so. Much as we enjoy our robust chew toys here at Casa del Orac, this one is full of pus and slime mold, with the profoundly unpleasant aftertaste of quietly sobbing altar boys and trains that always run on time.

Chris [email protected]:

In grad school I did teach an undergraduate physics lab for pre-med students. I was aghast at how often students just wanted to give a memorized answer to each write-up question (just like in the Brazil reference).

Ugh. I hope that was only the lingering after-effects of the high school rote mentality, and not how they intended to go on in their lives. Such mindless ontological exercises are for machines and daytime quiz show contestants, not those seeking to make life-and-death decisions.

has @59 — I see what you did there.

has @60 — What makes you think that they’ll change once they’re doing clinical work?

I’m happy to report that my more recent crops of pre-meds have been pretty good, in the main, mostly quite a bit more curious that the ones from several decades ago.

They’re also mostly nicer people with more realistic and altruistic motives for being MDs than earlier cohorts. Doctorin’ isn’t perceived as a straight shot to riches like it used to be — the people who want to do it are in it because it’s intersting, useful, and fulfilling work, and are willing to do it despite the crushing student loan debts and the ever-decreasing autonomy that physicians typically put up with these days.

“Could you just please leave us alone,” says the former member of the audience. “We get it you’re lonely and you got no place to go, but that doesn’t give you the right to pester us still!”
“Yeah”, agrees another former spectator of the Nerve-rending See Noevo ‘show’. “We’re waiting for a bus to get us the hell away from you.”
See Noevo waves its hand in dismissal “You left before I got to the good part!” it exclaims.
“I doubt that very much.”
“Evolution!” shouts See Noevo. “And-”
“Not this again.” sighs the former members of the audience in unison.
“Oh, you picked up on my subtle anti-evolution symbolism. Naming my monkeys Darwins, for example…”
“Real subtle indeed, not to mention your rants and your previous show and-”
“I’m worried particularly with,” interrupts See Noevo, “how belief in evolution poisons the society and leads to population decrease and all sorts of nasty liberties and human rights!”
“So you’re saying human population has decreased since Darwin?” asks the former member of the audience.
“It’s so obvious it’s ridiculous so-called scientists don’t notice it, right!” says See Noevo, nodding.
“That’s preposterous!”
“Indeed.”
“No, sorry, you must have misunderstood me. I meant you’re preposterous!”
“What?” See Noevo yelps, taken aback. “You’re not one of them nasty feeble-minded and unskilled scientists are you?”

I saw Feynman speak in the mid 80’s at my college. It was amazing to see him take apart a problem. He took questions from us students (on anything) and showed what it meant to really understand something.

I never had a chance to see Feynman give a talk as he died long before I became a physicist (5 years old at the time of his death). Have read the lectures and seen videos of some of his talks he really did show what it meant to understand a topic.

In grad school I did teach an undergraduate physics lab for pre-med students. I was aghast at how often students just wanted to give a memorized answer to each write-up question (just like in the Brazil reference).

I had a similar experience while TAing undergraduate physics labs, where I demonstrated and marked for both physics and engineering students. My physics students wanted to know ‘why’ something was the way it was, but my engineering students wanted a formula or algorithm that they could memorise to get a correct answer. That plus a worrying lack of basic math skills (again the whole memorise, not understand problem) gives me pause when driving over a bridge or through a tunnel etc (Mostly kidding, but only mostly ^^)

Re: Garou (#4) and Janet(#19) How could they read it? Where else would you expect their heads to be?

[email protected]:

has @60 — What makes you think that they’ll change once they’re doing clinical work?

Why, wishful thinking, of course! Seems to work for the rest of humanity. 🙂

[email protected]:

My physics students wanted to know ‘why’ something was the way it was, but my engineering students wanted a formula or algorithm that they could memorise to get a correct answer.

My guess: engineers (like my old dad, for example) lean towards the conservative and enjoy their certainties – which is all you really require to make cool things, after all – whereas scientists thrive on the very opposite. I suppose it’s understandable. You wreck the LHC, red faces all round, nobody dies. Your bridge falls down… that is major sh_t-fan interface.

It is a great shame though that this mindset should extend all the way back through education; the whole point of learning should be to make interesting mistakes in safety.

Secondly, it’s quite true, I think, that a positive correlation exists between belief in evolution and many other things I find objectionable. As I’ve said before in these blogs, the increasing acceptance of evolution seems positively correlated with the increasing acceptance of, or increasing incidence of,
– abortion,
– contraception,
– population decline,
– fornication,
– divorce,
– extended or perpetual singlehood,
– out-of-wedlock births,
– homosexual lifestyle and gay marriage,
– sexually-transmitted diseases,
– pornography,
– drug addiction,
– depression and dysphoria,
– social isolation/disintegration of community,
– socialistic government programs

Have you…ever studied history? Like, mores, norms, in other times? Try the Regency era on for size.

Orac,

There is one part that you wrote (as have many others) that drives me up the wall: Creation Science. Creation and Science are polar opposites of each other by definition. In science we prove or disprove our hypothesis to try to develop our theory. Most science is eventually either disproved or found to be a smaller subset of a more complex problem. With Creation there is nothing to prove or disprove because Creation is the only and final (no matter who’s creation) answer.

Therefore, no one can be called a creation scientist because creation defies science.

Um, I wrote no such thing. Nowhere in my post is the phrase “creation science.” Nowhere. I searched—multiple times. So I am really puzzled why you would criticize me for something I didn’t write in this post. The closest I came was “creationist pseudoscience,” which I assume you approve of.

Orac,

I did not mean to be criticize you personally for creation science. I really meant it as a general comment about what is written and what the creationists call themselves.

Please take my apology for not making sure that it was taken as general comment and not a swipe at you. I am sure you and most commenters know the difference between science and creationism.

Again my apology.

Frankly, if See Noevo wants to complain about the concept of science, he should do so with a pen and paper.

@Taylor #40 and Chris Hickie #52:
“Open Journal of Pediatrics” is published by SCIRP. That outfit is commonly viewed as a predatory publisher, with obvious implications for the reliability of any data or conclusions published therein.

Open Journal of Pediatrics, in particular, is recognised as a useful pukefunnel for pipelining made-up crap straight to the more credulous journamalists. It’s more expensive than stapling one’s cyclostyled rantings to telephone poles, but it gets them wider attention, and the peer-review standards are equally low.

Joe Mangano has used OJP to promote several emissions of Fukushima-related fabrications —
http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=28599
— and brought OJP to the attention of Jeffrey Beall, for the scuzzy graping dishonesty of its editorial practices:
http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/04/29/fallout-from-questionable-article-in-oa-pediatrics-journal/

But Taylor, writing in a style more associated with a Letter to Penthouse, just happens to have a copy of the paper, and just happens to have met two paediatricians who illustrated its claims of widespread autism-vaccine beliefs among paediatricians. And Taylor wonders whether other readers have had similar experiences.

And I am Marie of Romania.

Delphine @26

Have you…ever studied history? Like, mores, norms, in other times? Try the Regency era on for size.

I find most of the items on SNs list of the “evils” allegedly correlated with evolution to be good things.

Gray Falcon

Frankly, if See Noevo wants to complain about the concept of science, he should do so with a pen sharp stick and paper clay tablet.

FTFY

“I believed in evolution for about 30 years. I started DIS-believing in evolution when I began reading about its DETAILS,”

You’ve said you never studied it.

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