Test today: Bogus science? Bogus history?


Several weeks ago I noted Bob Park’s characteristics of Bogus Science, and then, based on his work, I listed some characteristics of bogus history, here in Bogus History 1, and here in Bogus History 2.

Here’s a test, more of the Bogus Science than Bogus History, but still a test: Almost-creationist astronomer Hugh Ross claims to have a hypothesis of creation that is not Darwin, that is testable, and which will be published shortly in his new book.

Do you see any of the warning signs of “bogus” yet? (Some answers suggested at the end, below the fold.)

Here’s an e-mail about the book, captured by the Texas Freedom Network:

Date: September 7, 2006
From: The Christian Newswire

New Testable Model for Creation Poised to Challenge the Darwinian Theory–Are We Willing to Let Science Be the Judge?

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 7 /Christian Newswire/ — Proponents of evolution considered the Kansas State School Board elections in August a huge victory for science education. Conservative Republicans backing the teaching of Intelligent Design in the public-school classroom lost seats to moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats favoring more traditional methods of teaching evolution.

“With the unprecedented strides scientific research has already made in the new millennium, we have been given a unique opportunity to make science education exciting again,” says astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, founder and president of the premier science/faith think-tank Reasons To Believe.

“The 1981 Supreme Court ruling guarantees the place of any scientifically viable model in public education regardless of its theological implications,” contends Ross. “The problem scientists have with the current Intelligent Design movement is that ID proponents offer no model by which to test their claims. Testability and predictive power are crucial to credibility,” says Ross. “It is right for the scientific community to ask, ‘Where is your model?'”

Ross is ready to answer that challenge. After 20 years of research, he and the team of scientists at Reasons To Believe have developed a creation model rooted in the scientific method. It is testable, verifiable/falsifiable, and successfully predicts scientific discoveries. Dr. Ross introduces the model in his new book, Creation As Science: A Testable Approach to End the Evolution/Creation Wars (NavPress, September 2006).

“The all-too-familiar evolution-bashing reveals a failure to understand how science works,” Ross comments. “People need to realize that the scientific community will not abandon their current working model, despite its flaws, until and unless a model with greater explanatory power and predictive success emerges to take its place. I see the RTB model, though still a work in progress, as a viable candidate.

“This model-building effort and others like it can improve the quality of science education and enhance public enthusiasm for scientific research,” Ross asserts. “Treating evolution as a closed subject has only hindered the search for truth. And that search is what science is supposed to be about,” concludes Ross. “When will we have the courage to let evidence be the brutal yet fair arbiter in the competition of ideas? Let’s be open-minded enough to follow the trail of evidence wherever it leads.”

Ross’s announcement runs afoul of Parks’s Bogus Indicators 1, 2 and 4, just in the press release.

  1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
  2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
  3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
  4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
  5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
  6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
  7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

I’ll wager that Ross does not make any claims connecting Darwin to any dictator, however. Optimists will have enough to get them to the morning coffee break.

5 Responses to Test today: Bogus science? Bogus history?

  1. canada says:

    I used this site to get information for that i had in my class. This is an excellent site for this information :)

    Like

  2. bernarda says:

    Here is a site that deals with many bogus science issues–and some real science.

    Go the the “Burning Dork” and then on to the links for the real stuff.

    http://www.badscience.net/

    Like

  3. DavidD says:

    OK, so “testable” got me, even though I was sure as I could be that it wouldn’t be real. So I spent an hour at http://www.reasons.org (Hugh Ross’ website), where there is no comprehensive statement of the RTB testable creation model, but there is mention of it on many pages, which one can find through their search engine.

    The RTB TCM seems to consist of a number of a principles, such as God made the universe to expedite the appearance of life or all hominids before fully modern humans were without spirits. Their “predictions”, retrospective as they are, are then such things as the trend toward finding more galaxies and more rapid stellar evolution than science once expected, in concert with that first principle, or differences in behavior between previous species of human beings and the current species. Of course this is incredibly subjective, which also means “predicted” is a bad word for such “facts”, as well as it being misleading that they are post hoc, not predictions.

    It’s not an ignorant position. If I felt compelled to believe in an a God who has controlled everything, I would believe something similar. I’ve wondered myself if there was something spiritual about the explosion of creativity in fully modern humans in the past 100,000 years. But the alternative that it was purely natural is at least as compelling. There is no scientific basis to say that the evidence favors one over the other. Yet Hugh Ross picks that it had to be spiritual, and atheists pick that it had to be natural. A pox on both their houses.

    There was an article on this site that caught my eye. It was about finding chimp fossils in Kenya, farther east than previously expected. The article describes the theory that the rift valley separated ancient humans into the savanna to the east from chimps in the jungle to the west, promoting their becoming separate species. So the article says that now that chimps have been found to the east, human evolution is false. What a leap!

    It’s like my recounting everything I’ve done this morning, then say that I therefore am having lunch with Julia Roberts. It’s the mother of all non sequitors.

    So I’m still not buying the book, but now I have a clearer picture of why I would feel like throwing it across the room. It’s only right if everything else happens to be wrong. That’s not likely.

    Like

  4. edarrell says:

    There is no indication that Ross has any research to report. He claims a new theory, in a press release. It’s wholly anecdotal at this point, with not a shred of evidence, and perhaps even less in research to back it.

    DavidD is probably spot on that they mean “predictive” in a wholly retrospective fashion.

    Like

  5. DavidD says:

    While this runs afoul of #1 and #2, I don’t see any evidence presented to run afoul of #4.

    I am curious what “testable” means here, though not enough to buy the book. I can wait to hear more. They do seem to have a strange meaning for “predictive”, unless they were sitting on this through their prediction of the accelerating expansion of the universe or something. I doubt that’s the case. I suspect they mean “predictive” retrospectively. Hey, do you think they’d let me bet on sports that way?

    I wish everyone would mean what they say and say what they mean. That includes apologists just saying that they very much like some rationale they have come up with to support their beliefs instead of calling it science. I still might think that such a rationale is worthless to me, but there wouldn’t be the dishonesty of claiming that it is some great truth rather than some arbitrary excuse.

    Empiricism will be the judge in the end, not just for how nature works, but for how anyone lived his or her life, how much the national debt mattered, what anyone’s words mattered, all these things where so many people act as if there is no judge. Maybe that will be as simple as opening one’s eyes and finding out whether you’re in heaven or hell. I suppose if the pride and idolatries of an apologist sends him to hell, he’ll even try to convince the devil that he understands this perfectly.

    Like

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