Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pseudo-doubt is the product of pseudo-skeptics

Slate's Daniel Engber explores the conspiratorial nature of various forms of anti-scientific pseudo-skepticism in "The Paranoid Style in American Science." (h/t Deltoid)

A choice quote that gets to the point succinctly (bold emphasis mine).

What makes this mode of [manufactured uncertainty about established science] thinking so effective—and so prevalent? Like David Berlinski, the doubt-mongers swear by the foundational motto of organized science, first pronounced by the Royal Society of London in 1663: Nullius in verba, "on no man's word." They show a deep commitment to the evidentiary record, always testing the established theories and demanding more data; they attempt to undermine science from within, by aping its vaunted incredulity. But in practice their contrarian mode amounts to something like the opposite of science—a tireless search for nonanswers, a quest for the null hypothesis.

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