How is certainty portrayed in science?

People seem very allergic to any acknowledgment of the provisions for error and reliance on uncertainties in science when it comes to taking a stand against pseudoscience. It’s a very bad way to represent things; the more I see of this, the less surprised I am when it comes to things like the increasing distrust in experts, the rise of anti-vaccination movements and unwarranted skepticism about climate change.

You’re describing the very tactics the DI relies on when pushing its ID-Creation pseudoscience.

Conceding that science is not infallible doesn’t give any ground to pseudoscience.

Who ever said science is infallible?

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You seem to think that acknowledging provisions for error in science and reliance on uncertainties in science are tactics used to push pseudoscience.

However, this could only possibly be a tactic for pseudoscience if the popular representatives of science aren’t accurately representing it in the first place.

Not as a rule but it is a common tactic for ID-Creationism. Try to cast unwarranted doubt on evolutionary theory, offer Goddidit as the alternative.

That makes no sense whatsoever.

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If science is presented as this monolithic thing that couldn’t possibly be wrong on an issue, then any small thing to violate this perception will cause a lot of people to cast doubt on the whole enterprise.

Better thing to do is just be upfront about any degree’s of uncertainty. Fleshing out what makes things less than perfectly certain would help people see through the claims of pseudoscience.

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The ID-Creationists are the only ones trying to portray science that way. They lie about actual scientific knowledge to try and create unwarranted doubt so their pseudoscience garbage can then sneak into the cracks. Real science knows it is incomplete, otherwise it would stop. :slightly_smiling_face:

That is already being done in science classrooms.

Misrepresentations aside, I don’t think this is true at all. There are a lot of people who advocate science as though it is the only reliable means of knowledge (which ID folk don’t do).

You’ll only get such persons to admit that science isn’t a perfect means to knowledge if you really press hard into them.

Well, it often seems to be the case that science classes aren’t as effective at teaching people about the nature of science than the internet, media or popular science communicators. Science classes don’t cover everything about science, either.

I’ve never met any such person in a professional science capacity.


You should try meeting more people from molecular biology, evolutionary biology and climate science. In my experiences I’ve found this attitude to be over-represented in these fields, and they’re the area’s with the biggest anti-science movements.

We could characterize a strong version of this position, and a weak version. My experience dictates that most people who think this way will hold a weak version.

I’ve met plenty of people from those disciplines. I’ve never met anyone who thinks science is perfect and infallible. Ever. I strongly suspect you’re projecting your own misunderstandings onto others.


Keep in mind that I was just talking about the reliability of science at generating knowledge.

To say that science is the only reliable means to knowledge is not to say that it is perfect and without error. But it does cast a big shadow in that direction, especially to laypersons.

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I’ve lived among them for decades and I’ve not seen what you claim to see. Maybe you’re the issue?

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Maybe you’re still far behind the times in Oz, but here we’re working at the local level to improve primary science education and move it toward what the educators call “inquiry-based” but what I call “hypothesis testing.”

Perhaps. Maybe it’s also where I am and the specific people I have spoken to; the comment is predominantly based on my experience.

Well, inquiry-based science was something I did in primary school. But this doesn’t get at what I’m referring to.

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Then name ten. Please don’t edit my challenge before responding like you did last time.

If “ID folk” don’t do that, why are they expending so much rhetorical effort to make the public think that what they do is science? You can’t have it both ways.

Then maybe your issues are very, very basic.

@mercer, be nice.

This is a very nice guy who, when I challenged him to give some examples to support a massive claim he made, edited my challenge. He’s now claiming massive unethical behavior among scientists.

Considering that, I think I’m being very nice.

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