<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">YECs say censorship of others actually censorship of them

PLoS recently published research that claimed the human hand was so well adapted it was “the proper design by the CreatorThis conclusion was criticised, leading to the retraction of this paper.

Despite this retraction, and the fact that the paper doesn’t provide good evidence for a Creatorand the fact the authors admitted as suchsome still claimed this was idealogical censorship.

However (the time I last wrote about this) no young-earth creationists were making this argument. I hoped they wouldn’t given how the paper – and the authors – obviously didn’t agree with them.

I’m sad to report that I was wrong. Unsurprisingly, the YEC has not let facts get in the way of a good argument.

Claims of censoring creationists

As the outrage at the PLoS paper grew; there were already some taking it as evidence of idealogical censorship by the scientific community. One comment on a Nature news story noted:

comment2

Dozens of people agree with me. DOZENS

As well as these individual comments, the large creationist outlets (and personalities) have waded in on the issue. And they all agree with the idea that this is a clear case of ideological censorship.

Ken Ham, kingpin of Answers in Genesis, writes:

censor1

It’s true, I’d never heard the Christian worldview before this post

Creation Ministries International make a similar point

Far from giving due consideration, the so-called scientific community does the exact opposite: they scorn and bully anyone who would dare attempt to suggest a Creator, and do their best to prevent any such evidence from seeing the light of day

And Dr Wile takes the point to a next level, drawing disturbing historical parallels:

censorship

This can’t have been the inquisition because I expected it.

What strikes me as strange is the pro-freedom, anti-intolerance and anti-censorship narrative in these posts. Yes, those are generally good things. But not necessarily in science. Whilst science should be as free from personal bias as possible, it still takes a strong, intolerant stance on many things.

After all, most people would be more than happy to “censor” the “freedom” of flat-earthers to “express their worldview” (as Ken Ham so aptly put it) in a scientific journal. Science is indeed biased against things which aren’t true (or at least, not backed up by current evidence).

And that’s not the end of it. Just take a look at Retraction Watch and you’ll find science isn’t tolerant of:

  • Research conducted without ethical approval
  • Research that plagurises others.
  • Research which fabricates data.

Guilty authors have all been “censored” through retractions. Yet I think these are perfectly valid principles to have. I’d wager most creationists do too. It’s only when their pet pony gets criticised that they get angry.

This same pattern is seen in psuedo-science everywhere. Science’s bias against bad data caused the retraction of Wakefield’s research linking autism and vaccines. But to the people who agreed with Wakefield, that was censorship!

Science is just intolerant of things without evidence. No rabble rousing talk about “freedom” is going to change that. And it isn’t going to make up for the lack of evidence for their position.

Was it right to retract?

Clearly science has a justified bias against bad ideas. But do these references to a “Creator” count as bad ideas?

Certainly the people quoted thus far think not. Their language all downplays the significance of this “offence”. For example, Dr Wile notes:

Pre-modern scientists are obviously the most reliable scientists

Pre-modern scientists are obviously the most reliable scientists

But remove the emotional context of this term and it becomes obvious that it does deserve retraction. After all:

Perhaps more worryingly, it raises doubts about the rigour of the peer review the paper went through. If such an obviously bad claim made it through the editing process, how many others in the paper also did? As such I’d rather the entire paper be removed and re-evaluated than just go through minor corrections.

To prove the point, replace the “Creator” with any other pre-modern idea that has failed to find support in current science. Imagine NASA published a paper on a satellite they’d just launched. They described the rocket, orbit, etc. all perfectly. Then they concluded that this satellite should “shed light on the various spheres – such as the sun – that orbit the earth“. The furore would be astounding and the paper would rightfully be retracted.

That’s the place we’re at the Creator. Until more research fixes these aforementioned problems, it remains a bad idea that has no place in published literature.

tl;dr

Science doesn’t like bad ideas. Just because you like bad ideas doesn’t make science evil for not liking them.

In case you didn’t notice, I’m experimenting with using screen-grabs of quotes; rather than simply quoting them. I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts of readers on the two approaches (if it’s even something you care about enough to have an opinion). 

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Categories: Creationism

5 Comments

Ashley Haworth-roberts · 14th March 2016 at 11:43 pm

In their rhetoric YECs act and sound like science is just mere opinion or belief (where differing viewpoints are regarded as equally valid). It frequently doesn’t work like that.

    Adam Benton · 15th March 2016 at 3:33 pm

    What I think is especially telling is how they don’t seem to agree with that. When they set up discussion groups or journals or whatever they don’t promote “freedom” of “tolerance”. They’re even more restrictive and closed off regarding the views that can be presented.

Wyrd Smythe · 15th March 2016 at 5:38 pm

We’re living in an era of: Emotion as Thought; Assertion as Fact; Opinion as Reality.

That same horrified sense of ‘how can people be this stupid’ that makes your head want to explode is in full operation here in the USA. Especially during this election cycle. (I put a large share of the blame on “reality television” that’s conditioned people to think this insanity is normal.)

I say we give the corvidae and capuchins a shot at it. Homo sap sap isn’t doing a very good job in my opinion.

megasolipsist · 19th March 2016 at 1:06 am

I sense another Expelled ‘documentary’ in the works.

    Adam Benton · 21st March 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I’m face-palming just at the thought of it.

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