Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Level Playing Field?

Dr. Wesley Elsberry, on the pro-evolution The Panda’s Thumb, argues (paraphrasing here) that, regarding publication in peer-reviewed journals, there is a level playing field for proponents of Intelligent Design (ID), but they simply don’t pass scientific muster. Dr. Elsberry writes:
There does exist a level playing field. The scientific community communicates via the peer-reviewed literature, establishing an iterative process of inter-subjective criticism and review that finds what works in scientific ideas. This playing field, though, has been shunned by ID advocates.

It is arguable that the quality of ID research is not up to the standards of the respected peer-reviewed journals. However, the assertion that the playing field is level is a bunch of crap. Other ideas that are not up to those same standards have no problem getting published. You just have to have the acceptable quasi-science.

ID (as applied to cosmology) receives a frosty reception from the cosmology/physics community -- not so its main competition, parallel quantum universe theories of various flavors. Yet both are proposed to explain the same problem, the fine tuning of physical constants, and both are arguably outside science since BOTH are unfalsifiable, and so BOTH are substandard. Yet parallel universe theories, and references to them, abound in the mainstream journals, ID does not. So why is the former a scientific theory and the latter a "wild ass guess"? I await Dr. Wesley Elsberry’s comment.

Even if evolution is correct, evolutionists publish “wild ass guesses” all the time. How many times have we read statements such as "X evolved feature Y to adapt to environmental pressure Z". If this is not a guess, then it must be demonstrable. How so?

If one starts a sentence (in a paper submitted to a peer-reviewed mainstream journal) with

"There is no natural explanation as to how the expansion rate of the universe is found at the precise value it needs to be in order for galaxies to form,"

then finishes it with

"giving credibility to [untestable] theories that postulate infinite parallel universes."

The chance for publication has not been affected. If all the other content in the paper remains the same, but you end the same sentence with

"giving credibility to [untestable] theory that there is intelligent design evident in the universe."

Then the chance of publication is zero.

Level playing field my ass. To assert that there is a level playing field is scientific elitism, and it makes me want to puke.

Anyone who has published (talking non-controversial, mainstream science here) has probably had the experience of running up against a biased reviewer or editor. To assume that such bias does not exist (in the extreme) against ID, regardless of the quality of the work is fatuous. One only has to look at the milder example of trying to publish a refutation of global warming--the conclusion alone will make it nearly impossible to obtain favorable peer-review regardless of the content.

Give me a break, Dr. Elsberry.

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