Saturday, June 16, 2007

Quackery and the philosophy of science

I’ve just added a link to Prof. David Colquhoun’s blog on quackery, now renamed Improbable Science (after a bit of a legal kerfuffle, recounted in today's Guardian). Great stuff.

And indeed, there are some really terrific internet resources out there, doing their best to counteract the tide of unreason that sometimes seems to be lapping at our doors. A question though. You’d have thought that philosophers of science would have a strong interest in joining in enthusiastically with the public defence of scientific reason, and doing their bit to chip away at the complete bollocks of creationism, intelligent design, and all the rest. Where are they all? Maybe it is just incompetent googling on my part, but I haven’t noticed any vigorous internet interventions. But I’d be very happy to be proved wrong ... any pointers to blogs for me to link to?


David Colquhoun said...

Good question. As far as I can see, most of the philosophers of science have a tendency to go the other way. I have read some that minimise the need for randomisation in drug trials, and they aren't even the out and out relativists

GF-A said...

It's not poor Googling on your part, from what I can tell -- but there are philosophers of science out there fighting the good fight. Michael Ruse testified in the Arkansas creationism case in the 80's, Robert Pennock testified in the more recent Dover Pennsylvania ID case, and Elliot Sober has done (and is doing) careful and serious work on what, exactly, is wrong with the design argument.

I think perhaps part of the 'invisibility' problem may be that such public service activities don't get you much cred from other philosophers of science: we're all agreed that ID is rubbish; what'll get published/ recognized is something that disputes a claim some philosophers of science actually hold. But that's just speculation on my part.