Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku must be a fairly smart guy in some respects. After all, he is a Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York. What he had to say yesterday on CNN was idiotic, however, and to the extent that he demeaned the scientific method , he should be ashamed for making all scientists look like buffoons.
I just happened to see a CNN “news” show as I was preparing lunch yesterday at my workplace kitchen (there is a TV hanging on the wall). At the end of one news segment, it was announced that we should stay tuned because there is new evidence of an ancient galaxy indicating that there are advanced civilizations living on other worlds. What??? This announcement immediately sent up red flags. I asked co-workers, “Who is the crackpot who is going to make these claims?” After the commercial ended, we met the crackpot: Michio Kaku.
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When someone makes a supernatural claim, James Randi would not recruit only scientists to investigate. He writes that you should consider hiring a trickster to investigate a trickster. More particularly, you should bring in a magician:
I particularly like the way our associate, magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, has expressed this point:
Any magician worth his salt will tell you that the smarter an audience, the more easily fooled they are. That’s a very counterintuitive idea. But it’s why scientists, for example, get in trouble with psychics and such types. Scientists aren’t trained to study something that’s deceptive. Did you ever hear of a sneaky amoeba? I don’t think so. You know, they don’t get together on the slide and go, “Hey, let’s fool the big guy.”
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Harry Houdini stood on the floor of the U.S. Congress and stridently denounced a variety of hoaxers, flaunting his cash prize for an example of a supernatural feat that would prove him wrong. Magicians like Penn & Teller and others have stepped forward to express their expert opinions concerning expensive and wasteful pursuits of chimeras. What we need now is to formalize this. We magicians have to make it clear that the insights we need to be magicians can be leveraged in the scientific method, and that we are on call.
As we seem to be discussing conspiracy theories here lately, let’s take a look at Climate-gate, the oft repeated Fox News banner of climate change denialism.
This video is a good and detailed look at not only the emergence and initial rallying cry of Climate-gate, but also how a thoroughly disproved lie emerges again later as a new rallying cry.
It is a pity that this video does not even bother to go into the criminal activity used to gather the misleading information. The forces of anti-reason are tireless, and this is just one of many subjects in which it manifests.
There is currently a strong suite of Discovery Institute bills running through state legislatures to allow “alternative theories” to be taught in science classes. See list here: Antievolution Legislation Scorecard. There is not a direct link back to the Discovery Institute, but it is their wording, seen before and passed in places like Texas and Louisiana and Tennessee.
From a legal standpoint, the bills look harmless, closely resembling intellectual freedom policies. But the point is clearly to sow confusion about the difference between science and just making things up, especially in regard to evolution and climate science.
Hemant Mehta suggests that it would only be fair to show this video in churches where the churches put their books into science classes.