#SCIENCE is based on EVIDENCE, making it inherently not #FAITH-based @startswithabang

Ethan Siegel has written a must-read article defending the scientific process in the Forbes science section (No, Science is Not Faith-Based). Siegel takes on an inflammatory and misinformed claim from Matt Emerson that science is faith-based (Wall Street Journal). Emerson’s claim was related to the recent detection of gravitational waves by LIGO. Siegel, a trained astrophysicist, clearly explains why the claim that science has anything to do with faith is completely non-scientific. Read the full-article here, my favorite parts below:

Faith, by definition, is the belief in something despite insufficient knowledge to be certain of its veracity.

Yet in every case, there are two key components that make the prediction scientific:

  1. The prediction, or the belief that the outcome can be accurately predicted, is predicated on the existence of quality evidence.
  2. As the evidence changes — as we obtain more, newer and better evidence — and as the full suite of evidence expands, our predictions, postdictions and entire conceptions of the Universe change along with it.

There is no such thing as a good scientist who isn’t willing to both base their scientific belief on the full suite of evidence available, nor is there such a thing as a good scientist who won’t revise their beliefs in the face of new evidence.

I have a family member that teases me because I always ask about the evidence behind claims, assertions, etc. I guess years spent on a science PhD and postdoc will engrain a desire for evidence in you, but that desire has nothing to do with faith…

Science is Not Democratic

Article in Forbes discussing the negative implications of distrusting science. Definitely worth a read. From the article:

The distrust of scientists in the U.S. has become an effective political tool since the 1980s. But it is also extremely dangerous to our democracy.No one expects the public to be experts or to recognize important scientific results. But we do expect that when important scientific results occur, they are implemented and used for the betterment of America and the world.

Science isn’t a belief system. It’s proven knowledge. It either knows the answer to a problem, or admits it doesn’t and keeps looking for it. Every time we ignore the scientific community, bad things generally happen.

Science Quotable: Steven Salzberg #DefenderofScience

defender

In this week’s Science magazine, former Republican Congressman John Porter calls on scientists to “speak up for research.” Well, I’m all in.

We’re in the midst of a remarkable stream of scientific and medical advances, spurred by dramatic advances in biotechnology, computing, and miniaturization. Our knowledge of biology has led to amazing leaps in our understanding of aging, immune responses, inherited diseases,  and brain function, to name but a few. And yet we’re cutting science funding, year after year.

Meanwhile, eight of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. are diseases that we might cure through better research, including heart disease (#1), cancer (#2), Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and kidney disease. We already have far better treatments for these diseases than we had a few decades ago, thanks to our past investments in biomedical research.

In an Editorial on Forbes.com, Steven Salzberg takes the advice of John Porter.