The Role and Bias of Science in Society

Bauer in a contextual article attempts to explain the contrast between the beliefs of mainstream science versus what is coined pseudo-science. Bauer’s evidential claim is that pseudoscience does not really exist. It is simply a label used by mainstream science for any series of research that is contrary to the existing public image and beliefs of popular science.

 

Can the case be made that pseudo-science is simply a prejudicial term and not based on the actual evaluation of alternative science? Bauer says yes. When reviewing different fields of “fringe science” Bauer finds a consistent pattern. The quality of the research and data is irrelevant. Because fringe science often threatens the “established findings” of mainstream science, spokespeople for science attempt to slander and minimize these findings.

 

Why would scientists engage in such behavior which is contrary to the idea of science (i.e. data and research driven beliefs and conclusions)? Bauer points to the increasing social and cultural influence of science since WWII and the use of the atomic bomb. As science has gained political influence, official advisory positions, and used in society as an authoritative source of truth, its advocates attempt to stifle any research that could threaten science’s position in society.

 

On a personal note, Bauer’s analysis strikes home with me. Trained as a Social Psychologist, the research available on peer-pressure, self-serving bias, and other cognitive errors, fully endorse this view. Where society and scientists often make mistakes is the assumption that our human flaws and tendencies don’t apply to science. Science is a data-driven method, not a belief system. However, the spirit of this process has been lost to the human drive for power and prestige. Popularity does not actually make something true.

 

Bauer, H. H. (2014). Anomalistics, pseudo-science, junk science, denialism: Corollaries of the role of science in society. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 95-111.

Evidence for Cosmic Ether

DeMeo in a recent article reviews the history of cosmological and physics science. Specifically, he reviews the experiments of Dayton Miller. Although at first glance conspiratorial, DeMeo makes a solid case that ether, the proposed substance that exists in space, which in mainstream science is not believed to exist) in fact does exist.

 

Dr. Miller spent decades refining a complicated physics experiment where his data (over 200000 observations) definitively showed the existence of some type of substance that was displaced by the earth as it moves through the solar system. Mainstream science, however, found these findings incompatible with their existing theories, and instead cite a rivals research, which contained a fraction of the data that Miller presented (and also misrepresent the findings to present a no-ether case in textbooks).

 

Whether you believe in ether or not, DeMeo’s article shows how politics, prestige, and power will sometimes alter the official scientific record. The evidence and data from Miller’s work show the existence of ether. Rival mainstream scientists have purposely buried or misrepresented this data because it is incompatible with their existing theories. Sadly, we are all human, including scientists. Thus, pride, ego, and power can alter the official scientific record.

 

DeMeo, J. (2014). Does a cosmic ether exist? Evidence from Dayton Miller and others. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 647-682.

“Salience” and Motivation as Predictors of Unconventional Beliefs

Irwin in some of his recent work further explores the psychological components of human’s and their endorsement of scientifically unaccepted beliefs. In the current research, Irwin examines aberrant salience, which roughly translates into a tendency to become focused on a small piece of evidence while ignoring the broader body of evidence of a particular belief.

 

Irwin also investigates the role of motivation and unconventional beliefs. Specifically, the current research investigated a need for achievement, need for power, need for affiliation, and need for intimacy. Irwin proposes that some of these motivational factors influence a person’s willingness or desire to believe in unsupported beliefs.

 

Findings in this study, which comprised 104 participants, found that aberrant salience was related to endorsing unconventional beliefs. With motivation, only the need for intimacy predicted endorsing unconventional beliefs. Irwin’s analysis discovered that need for intimacy was only relevant for new age beliefs, but not other unconventional beliefs.

 

Reference:

Irwin, H. J. (2014).Aberrant salience and motivation as factors in the formation of belief in scientifically unaccepted phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 633-645.