Scientists and bias  

When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.  ~ Dale Carnegie

Who has deceiv'd thee so oft as thy self?  ~ Benjamin Franklin 

People only see what they are prepared to see.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time. ~ George Bernard Shaw

In truth there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don't know it.  ~ GK Chesterton

But that is the way of the scientist. He will spend thirty years in building up a mountain range of facts with the intent to prove a certain theory; then he is so happy in his achievement that as a rule he overlooks the main chief fact of all--that his accumulation proves an entirely different thing. When you point out this miscarriage to him he does not answer your letters; when you call to convince him, the servant prevaricates and you do not get in. Scientists have odious manners, except when you prop up their theory; then you can borrow money of them. ~ Mark Twain

I have often said that there is more intolerance in higher education than in all the mountains of Tennessee.  ~ John Scopes

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool. ~ Richard Feynman 

People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to. ~ Malcolm Muggeridge

I had one reviewer tell me that he didn't care what the data said, he knew that what I was finding wasn't possible. I wrote back and said, "Well, what data would convince you?' And he said, 'None.'   ~ Mary Schweitzer

Scientists, being as a rule more or less human beings, passionately stick up for their ideas, their pet theories. It's up to someone else to show you are wrong.  ~ Niles Eldredge  

These theories appeared to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, opening your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirming instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it... Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analysing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousandfold experience," he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold." ~ Karl Popper

I want to return now to the charge that science is just a faith. The more extreme version of that charge—and one that I often encounter as both a scientist and a rationalist—is an accusation of zealotry and bigotry in scientists themselves as great as that found in religious people. Sometimes there may be a little bit of justice in this accusation. ~ Richard Dawkins

But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective 'scientific method,' with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.  ~ Stephen Jay Gould 

It is, in fact, a common fantasy, promulgated mostly by the scientific profession itself, that in the search for objective truth, data dictate conclusions. If this were the case, then each scientist faced with the same data would necessarily reach the same conclusion. But as we've seen earlier and will see again and again, frequently this does not happen. Data are just as often molded to fit preferred conclusions.  ~ Roger Lewin 

Today, our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon which keeps rapidly unfolding before us. Biologists must be encouraged to think about the weaknesses of the interpretations and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths. The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs. ~ Pierre Grasse

The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity. This is already evident in the reckless statements of Haeckel and in the shifty, devious and histrionic argumentation of T. H. Huxley ... To establish the continuity required by the theory, historical arguments are invoked even though historical evidence is lacking. Thus are engendered those fragile towers of hypotheses based on hypotheses, where fact and fiction intermingle in an inextricable confusion. ~ W.R. Thompson 

In the acquisition of new knowledge, scientists are not guided by logic and objectivity alone, but also by such nonrational factors as rhetoric, propaganda, and personal prejudice. Scientists do not depend solely on rational thought, and have no monopoly on it. ~ William Broad and Nicholas Wade

Curiously enough, for all that science may be very good thing, members of the scientific community are often dismayed to discover, like policemen, that they are not better loved. Indeed, they are widely considered self-righteous, vain, politically immature, and arrogant. This last is considered a special injustice. "Contrary to what many anti-intellectuals maintain," the biologist Massimo Pigliucci has written, science is "a much more humble enterprise than any religion or other ideology." Yet despite the outstanding humility of the scientific community, anti-intellectuals persist in their sullen suspicions. Scientists  are hardly helped when one of their champions immerses himself in the emollient of his own enthusiasm. Thus Richard Dawkins recounts the story of his professor of zoology at Oxford, a man who had "for years... passionately believed that the Golgi apparatus was not real." On hearing during a lecture by a visiting American that his views were in error, "he strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand, and said -- with passion -- 'My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.'" The story, Dawkins avows, still has the power "to bring a lump to my throat."

It could not have been a very considerable lump. No similar story has ever been recounted about Richard Dawkins. Quite the contrary. He is as responsive to criticism as a black hole in space. "It is absolutely safe to say," he has remarked, "that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution that person is ignorant, stupid or insane."  ~ David Berlinski

Consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticized most severely and often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.  ~ Paul Feyerabend     

I expected science to be, in Carl Sagan's memorable phrase, "a candle in a demon haunted world." And here, I am not so pleased with the impact of science. Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity. Some of the demons that haunt our world in recent years are invented by scientists.  ~ Michael Crichton 

I am not one of those rarefied academics who cringes at every journalistic story about science for fear that the work reported might thereby become tainted with popularity. And, in a purely “political” sense, I certainly won’t object -- if major newspapers choose to feature any result of my profession as a lead story especially, if I may be self-serving for a moment, when one of the tales reports my own work! Nonetheless, this degree of public attention for workaday results in my field (however elegantly done) does fill me with wry amusement – if only for the general reason that most of us feel a tickle in the funny bone when we note a gross imbalance between public notoriety and the true novelty or importance of an event, as when Hollywood spinmeisters manage to depict their client’s ninth marriage as the earth’s first example of true love triumphant and permanent.

So thanks, fellas. I’m really glad you reported some ordinary, but particularly well done, studies of small-scale evolution as front-page news.  ~ Stephen Jay Gould 

Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.  ~ Michael Ruse

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ~ Jeremiah 17.9 

See also:  Illustrations

See also:  Calling science to account

See also:  Bias  2  3  4  5 

See also:  Piltdown

See also:  Awareness Test

See also:  Richard Sternberg

See also:  Expelled

See also:  Peer Review  2

 

Evolutionism and atheism

Common Objections

What is the evidence

Intelligent Design  

Theory or fact?  

Scientists and bias  

Evolutionism and scripture

Consequences  

Are Creationists honest?

Audio Video  

Links     

Works Cited    

 

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