Humanist Perspectives: issue 160, The War on Science and Reason

The War on Science & Reason
issue 160, Spring 2007

cover of issue 159
The War on Science & Reason:
is this the one war George Bush is winning?
by Gary Bauslaugh
Science and reason is under attack from literalists, postmodernists, politicians and many others who either do not understand or care to ignore rational thought. Marginalization of scientific consensus, usually for political or religious reasons, as in resistance to the evidence on climate change, represents a clear danger to humanity.
letters from our readers
Ernest Poser examines the argument on rethinking humanism from the previous issue of Humanist Perspectives. (Also see the web supplement “A Letter from Norman White”)
reflections of a humanist
Science Under Siege by Theo Meijer
Theo Meijer writes about various challenges to scientific thinking. “New Age thinking,” he writes, for example, “promotes emotive rather than rational criteria for deciding among competing truth claims, and allows such claims to be made without proof, lacking the essential self-correcting aspect of science.”


Interview with Michael Shermer
The eminent writer, science historian, publisher of Skeptic magazine, and contributing Editor and monthly columnist for Scientific American, give some thoughts about the current challenges to science, and expresses optimism for the future.
the SSHRC & Intelligent Design by Patrick Walden
This is a story Humanist Perspectives has been following for the past year because it demonstrates a frightening lack of understanding about science in Canada’s second largest research granting agency. Patrick Walden reviews the matter in detail and explains why it matters.
Wars on Science? a historical perspective by R G Weyant
Robert Weyant gives historical perspective to the problem of the public acceptance of science and questions the suitability of the military metaphor.
Selective Skepticism, Manufactured Doubt
& the Politics of Science
by Bryson Brown
Skepticism is often misused, as with contrarians who create doubt about science while appearing to contribute to healthy debate. This can create real problems. Brown writes “So long as the mass media give more or les equal weight to fringe experts and experts representing the consensus, the public gets the impression that the issue still hangs in the balance.”

columns & departments

letter from new york
The War on Theory by Jonny Diamond
Jonny Diamond writes “…the Right is running an aggressive campaign against science, high-jacking the way in which outside information is brought to bear on serious policy decisions.”
practical philosophy
Science & Self-Deception by Trudy Govier
Trudy Govier writes about the problem of self-deception in response to the news science brings to us. “The news science brings to us is not always welcome,” she writes, “and many will want to resist it. To say we would rather not believe in global warming is an understatement.”
things that go bump
When Ignorance Masquerades as Science by James Alcock
James Alcock writes about how science is often misused by people masquerading as experts. He tells a story about his own encounter with a woman who had been egregiously mistreated by a so-called therapist.
Beautiful (& Dangerous) Minds – a true story by Shirley Goldberg
In reviewing “perhaps the most corrupted area of research”, which involves the nuclear weapons industry, and the lack of attention given to this in films and other media, Shirley Goldberg writes “a true story, a tragic story — my story — about a scientist (my husband) and the high price of personal and scientific integrity.”
crossword puzzle
theme: Science by Ian Johnston
Bleating About the Bush by Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston looks at some recent books about attacks on science, but argues that it is nothing new, and that “science’s greatest strength is its ability to produce the truth over time.”
children’s books
Science, God & Philip Pullman by Gwyneth Evans
Can fantasy and science co-exist? Gwyneth Evans discusses the perspectives on science presented by children’s writer and skeptic Philip Pullman.

last word

On the Ancient Struggle Between Science & the Gods by Donald Hatch
The conflict between scientific and religious perspectives is not new. Donald Hatch tells us about the differing but interesting views of Marcus Aurelius and Epicurus.
back cover
quotations from Marcus Aurelius & Epicurus
translations adapted by Gwyneth Evans

Exclusive Web Supplements

A Letter from Norman White
> read article online
Bringing Home the Bacon — a primer on Lord Francis Bacon
by Ian Johnston
> read article online
a full deposition to SSHRC
by Patrick Walden
> read article online