Category Archives: art

Prostituting science

One thing that disappoints me is the way that some scientists prostitute their science. The way that some scientists use their academic qualifications or reputation to support unscientific messages. I realise that everybody who does this has their own reasons and these are usually related to ego, ideology or money.

This is something we should all be aware of when “experts” are rolled out to support questionable or controversial causes, as well as when they are used to advertise commercial products. A blatant example of this was revealed in a blog report on a recent debate about intelligent design (ID) (see ID Was Spanked In Fort Worth). The main speakers were Dr. Lawrence Krauss (opposing ID) and  Dr. David Berlinski (supporting ID). After the debate an audience member:

“heard Krauss ask Berlinski why he wasted his intellect advocating for intelligent design. To which Berlinski replied that he doesn’t believe a word of it, but is happy to cash the checks the Discovery Institute writes him. Strangely enough, this would be consistent with Berlinski’s odd statement early on in which he admitted that his own ethical orientation was focused on living as contentedly and as selfishly as possible. It was a weird aside at the time; realizing that he could be exercising that ethic by making chumps of the Discovery Institute seems somehow poetically appropriate.”

I realise that this is hearsay – and Berlinski may well deny these comments whether he made them or not. However, I think the report does illustrate the problem.

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Expelled – the movies

Intelligent design proponents are currently promoting Ben Stein’s film Expelled. There are campaigns in the USA offering financial inducements to get the film shown to students. And many religious web sites are advertising the film, even in New Zealand where 75% of the population accept evolutionary science.

While the film has not yet been officially released it is being shown to specially selected audience in the USA, usually at Churches. Anybody likely to review the film has to sign a non-disclosure “statement of confidentiality”. However, have a read of the review by Roger Moore who was invited to a showing by mistake and managed to avoid signing the agreement.

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Art and the limits of science

There are people who argue that science should not investigate some issues. Sometimes they say these issues should be left to religion and philosophy. No doubt there are questions which don’t lend themselves to scientific inquiry – but then is there any evidence that religion is capable of handling those questions?

In the past, areas related to mind, consciousness, spirit, soul and the artistic realm have been ruled “out of bounds” to science – often by scientists themselves. But, in reality, religion has not been able to investigate these areas either. Their pronouncements on these issues have been based on dogma, not understanding.

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¶ Science, art & pumpkins

I know that, like me, many people feel a strong spiritual awe about nature, the cosmos andGrowing Up in the Universe science – the evolution of our understanding and knowledge of reality. This is something we should be encouraging our kids to appreciate (The videos by Richard Dawkins Growing Up In The Universe do a great job in this respect).

Neil deGrasse Tyson is also another excellent communicator about this awe of nature and science. He is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

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