Virtue Signaling Proves Why Science Is Broken

Virtue Signaling Proves Why Science Is Broken

Few years back some folks invited me to give a talk at Fermi Lab. Subject was how mistaken views of probability were holding particle physics back. (Which I still think is true, but I now also think the metaphysics is oriented “backwards”. We’ll save that for another day.)

The day I got to the Lab some nervous students and sniffy postdocs searched my name, and, shocked by what they had “discovered”, went and tattled on me to the Powers That Be. “How dare you invite a climate change denier!” they wept. “Cancel his talk!” They fretted I would corrupt the youth with my scientific impieties.

In the end, I was allowed to take the stage and, as far as I know, the nervous students with the delicate ears still safely believe the climate will soon spin out of control, or whatever it is it’s supposed to do.

Perhaps long-time readers will recall I was also invited to Hillsdale to give a talk on why science is broken, and—-what’s that? You already forgot? Well now. Why don’t you watch the video, and then—and this is the most important part—pass it on to others to watch. Or send the transcript. I mean it, now.

There wasn’t, as you might have expected, the same difficulties giving a talk at Hillsdale. The science faculty there, being true scientists, welcomed criticism. All great scientists prize truth over consensus. They were anxious to explore the possibility that some of their most cherished beliefs might be wrong, and, if so, how they might be corrected and push science forward. They knew, better than others, that the motto “science is self-correcting” logically implied science is often in error.


Anyway, one thing I was able to reconfirm is that the job of the press is enforcement. Not giving news. Ensuring people don’t stray from acceptable thought.

Take this piece on Greg’s and my talks. Now Greg and I made many substantive arguments, presenting evidence from many fields of science, bringing up the replication crisis, the opinion of named persons that “half of science is broken”, showing in great detail with many examples just what has gone wrong and why. Here is what the news piece said in direct answer to these arguments:





There is no misquote. That’s it. That’s the total, complete list of reasoned counter-arguments. Which, you will have undoubtedly noticed, is typical of such reports of events which question The Consensus.

The rest of the article is devoted to naming Greg and I as Bad Persons, whose ideas none shall speak, lest you become a Bad Person, too.

Details? Oh, very well, but just to show you how the trick is done; how you can write to make it appear you have given a substantial point, while saying nothing at all:

Glassman spent a portion of his speech redefining well-supported definitions of scientific terms like hypothesis and law — walking the audience through how science “should work.” Glassman married the terms “measurements” and “facts” while also incorrectly defining a hypothesis as “a model that based on all of the data in a specified domain, contains no counterexamples, incorporating a prediction of an unrealized fact.”

Sounds like the writer identified a mistake, doesn’t it? Sure, it’s a trivial dispute over definitions, which are not that important, and over which Greg spoke for maybe two minutes out of his hour. But the implication Greg was wrong is right there. Just what did he get wrong, precisely? We do not learn. But we are assured he was wrong. And you are supposed to accept that because the journalist said so.

If you think I’m mistaken, I invite you to study the report and find the journalist’s, not Greg’s, definition of hypothesis.

One more, this time about my talk:

We still need science. We still need research. It is justifiable and necessary to call attention to the pitfalls of contemporary science, but the college should consider how its public messaging regarding science affects students who are working toward careers in STEM.

It was difficult to find students or faculty who thought any part of the talk was convincing, effective, or helpful. Many students and faculty members who were in attendance said they found the whole evening to be gimmicky, going so far as to express worry about how it will affect perceptions of natural science degrees from Hillsdale.

Several students expressed worry about how Hillsdale’s reputation may affect their futures. If a graduate program is choosing between two students, one from a standard state school and one from Hillsdale, there is a chance that the sentiments of Hillsdale being “anti-science” may affect that student’s admission.

See what I mean? All about the feelz, about the reporter’s fear of how she herself will be viewed. She doesn’t want to be associated with any who question The Consensus. Not one word from any of the “difficult to find students or faculty” about what we said that was in error.

Just lazy implication.

That’s why science is broken.

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  1. Bryant Poythress

    I’m wondering if the title should be “Virtue Signaling Shows HOW Science Is Broken” while the soon to be released’Why’ article would be about the broken metaphysics you mention.

  2. Briggs


    Yes. I am the worst title writer. A skill, or talent, I do not possess.

  3. John B()

    They knew, better than others, that the motto “science is self-correcting” logically implied science is often in error.

    But Doc!
    You’re not thinking 4th dimensionally!

  4. The article indicates that the art of criticism-by-innuendo has reached a heretofore unattained peak.

  5. spudjr60

    Alexandra Hall is a junior studying Rhetoric and Public Address, Biology, and Journalism. She currently serves as the Collegian’s Science and Technology editor.

    Thanks, for pointing out this poorly written article. If her application ever crosses my desk, I will be delighted to schedule an interview so I can show her how she can’t process straight forward information and her inability to use reason.

  6. Rudolph Harrier

    Here is a dirty secret of universities: Most of what is done is by rote memorization (this includes “studies” classes where the rote memorization is of insane ideologies.) This is because rote memorization represents the highest level of capability of most students.

    Now here is the dirty secret of academia: many of those students get STEM degrees and apply their level of understanding to research work. Hence the plethora of papers that simply take in a new data set, apply standard methods, and read off conclusions based off simple threshold levels with interpretations taken from the approved ideologies.

  7. Gunther Heinz

    Alexandra Hall is a WOMAN. They are in charge now and that’s all she meant to say. Briggs should know.

  8. Cary D Cotterman

    Paul Murphy–great compilation of failed predictions. They didn’t even include the warmists’ classic polar bear tragedy that is belied by their growing numbers and thriving over the past sixty or so years. It’s interesting how many times Erlich’s name comes up. Just about everything the alarmist buffoon has tried to stir up hysteria about has turned out to be a dud, yet the NPR/PBS crowd still takes him seriously, and he doubles down, citing “peer review” as evidence he’s not a fool. Pathetic.

  9. Science is working as intended, to legitimize the regime and the impositions of the powers that be. Shut up and eat your bugs.

  10. Briggs

    I remember that one. Glenn Ford. Pretty good for a made-for-TV movie.

  11. PhilH

    The priestly class has only ever had one role, and that is to determine which side of the bread is buttered and to ensure a continuous and abundant supply of said dairy product by supporting the regime of the day.

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