July 16, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionists Undermine Their Own Truth Claims

Two evolutionists appeal to “evolutionary forces” to explain the rise of bad science.

A guy saws off the branch he’s sitting on. That’s a common theme in cartoons. Sometimes it happens in real life, too. In fact, there’s a Darwin Awards program for people who do stupid things that risk eliminating themselves from the gene pool (example on YouTube). This week, perhaps, it should be awarded to a couple of Darwinian scientists who say, according to New Scientist, “Evolutionary forces are causing a boom in bad science.

BM-Darwine-smPaul Smaldino and Richard McElreath at the University of California Davis used an evolutionary theory-based computational model to analyse the problem of bad science. They found that “the most powerful incentives in contemporary science actively encourage, reward and propagate poor research methods and abuse of statistical procedures”. In short, it’s natural selection for shoddy science.

There’s widespread concern that science is in a state of crisis. Vox.com reported results of a survey of 270 scientists about the seven biggest problems facing science:

  1. Academia has a huge money problem.
  2. Too many studies are poorly designed [i.e., not intelligently designed].
  3. Replicating results is crucial. But scientists rarely do it.
  4. Peer review is broken. [See 7/09/16]
  5. Too much science is locked behind paywalls.
  6. Science is poorly communicated to the public.
  7. Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful.

But since natural selection cannot get from “is” to “ought”, there’s no way to call the situation bad or good. It just is what it is. In fact, if natural selection produced eyes and wings and a myriad of other trophies of progress, then Smaldino and McElreath ought to celebrate this new evolutionary innovation they call “bad science.”

Smaldino and McElreath found that their model pushed researchers to do less rigorous science, and publish more false positives. They suggest that their model shows that bad science can be explained as a result of the evolutionary selective pressures that are acting on scientists.

But how can they call rigorous science a virtue? The tree sloth is not rigorous. The earthworm is not rigorous. Some creatures are rigorous, like the peregrine falcon, but some are not. As for false positives, deception is common in nature: some butterflies mimic toxic species to avoid being eaten. If evolutionary selective pressures are acting on scientists, then Praise the Origin! Darwin’s theory is working, and humans are evolving—just like another article on New Scientist claims. On what basis can they ask scientists to escape the irrepressible evolutionary pressures that are acting on them?

The only way Smaldino and McElreath can call bad science “bad” is to appeal to a standard that does not evolve. Perhaps they could use one that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” or “Thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbor’s” or “Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men.”

Isn’t it funny how proponents of self-refuting claims fail to see through their own fallacies? Speaking of cartoons, they’re like Daffy Duck the moment before he realizes he just skied off a cliff. Hanging in mid-air, he continues quacking away, until he happens to look down. Then there’s that brief look of “Uh-oh!” and – pfew! Gravity takes over.

Do your charitable duty while Daffy is quacking away. Snap your fingers to get his attention, and point down. Some may wish to do this before he skis off the cliff.

 

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