Science does not take place in ivory towers above the fray of politics

My co-author and recent commenter, DB wrote:

What mynym is pointing out here is what bothers me most about the proponents of natural selection. It seems that anyone who has investigated, researched and theorized something, which is contrary to the sacredness of the theory of evolution, is considered to be a scientific blasphemer. I have read dissenting articles on naturalism by non-believing scientists, which seem to bring up the same or similar issues as ID proponents. Are dissenting works and opinions not allowed, since evolution has evidently risen to the same level as the theory of gravity, as the above quotes so vividly point out? I have to believe that the answer to this question, at the moment, is yes.

When we consider psychology, I think it might help put things into perspective. Freud tried to develop a grand theory of psychology to explain, as much as possible, every aspect of the human psychological experience. At the root of his theory was an acceptance of the theory of evolution. Approximately a century later, the field of psychology has changed dramatically. The desire for broad, explain-it-all theories, have largely disappeared. Instead, there are a great number of many specific theories with a much more humble goal to explain aspects of psychology. In part, I believe this is because psychology has been considered to be a “pseudoscience” by many, and psychologists tend to be very conscious of this fact. Even though that is the case, political biases pervade the field and shape the nature of research results. Biology could learn a lot from psychology were it willing to be as self-critical. Even if it had the same level of self-critical examination, it would still be fraught with political and personal bias. One of the most important classes I ever took was an undergraduate class called, “Controversial Topics in Psychology.” The basic tenant of the class was that, “Science does not take place in ivory towers above the fray of politics.” It seems that many evolutionary biologists lack this basic ability for self-examination and humility that is required for “objective” science. The scientific method is an attempt to reduce personal biases in the examination of the physical world. Without an examination of how people can fail miserably in their understanding of this, the scientific method is ultimately reduced in its power to examine nature.


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