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Correction!

In one of my earlier posts I made the following comment

A scientist who does not admit he might potentially be wrong is really a theologian.

That line prompted a few emails, but today a gentle reader emailed me the error of my ways:

Since I am one, even theologians routinely admit they might potentially be wrong. Well... about most things, anyway. Humility about one's own knowledge and wisdom is a spiritual gift, and a mark of maturity.

Scientists who do not admit they might potentially be wrong are simply: fools.

I stand corrected.


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Comments (14)

I think all that one needs ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think all that one needs is the period at the end, can't say it any better.

Paul's definition:... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Paul's definition:

A scientist who does not admit he might potentially be wrong is really a theologian.


I'd amend.

A scientist who does not admit he might potentially be wrong is not a scientist.

I've never met a scientist who did not acknowledge the inevitable. I should probably get out more.

At any rate (and this is not directed at you, Paul), having a theory and being proved wrong is not a character flaw though some of the more arrogant may interpret it as such. It merely reflects the normal give and take of the scientific method. Even in "defeat" the knowledgebase expands and contributes to our understanding of the natural world. Any reputable scientist will recognize and appreciate strict adherence to valid experimentation. It's when interpretation (or experimentation itself) is skewed to advance a preconceived conclusion that reputations are compromised. That is the error that must be expunged.

You're "gentle reader" is c... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

You're "gentle reader" is correct.


Cindy

Sooooooooo.... "A ... (Below threshold)
Mr. Kipling:

Sooooooooo....

"A scientist who does not admit he might potentially be wrong is really a theologian."

And

"Scientists who do not admit they might potentially be wrong are simply: fools."

Although I don't know if either one of these guys or gals is a scientist, the authors of these statements would have to admit that they might be potentially wrong about those specific hypothesises or they would be theologians or fools themselves?

Am I understanding that right?

Wait, did Paul just call th... (Below threshold)
andy:

Wait, did Paul just call theologians fools?

Man, they are gonna be PISSED.

I wrote that very thing (la... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I wrote that very thing (labelling inflexible 'scientists' as fools) earlier today on the previous thread (last one Paul authored about all that he needed to know about science he learned in...), but then I erased it and didn't publish it, bearing in mind the Scripture -- I think it was Saint Paul who said this but I'm not sure -- that cautions the faithful from calling anyone a "fool."

I'm not able to read Wizbang's index page and have to access the place lately via individual RSS feed URLs, so I can't follow along quite as chronologically as possible from one thread to another, sorry.

Anyway, they are and I agree that they are, just that I held my words earlier. Not sure what it does to advance any discussion, but I do agree with the term in application to this astoundingly common area among academia.

Andy, I gotta know-- How do... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Andy, I gotta know-- How do people as stupid as you breathe?

Paul - through the miracle ... (Below threshold)
andy:

Paul - through the miracle of Jesus, idiot.

andy,i understand ... (Below threshold)
merc:

andy,

i understand that everyone, including myself, may at times find themselves guilty (usually unintentionally) of misreading or misinterpreting the written word.

this is quite evidently the case here.

Paul stated that scientists who would not admit they were wrong were really theologians.

to this, a theologian replied that he respectfully disagreed and posited a different take on it, separate from Paul's original line of thinking. this new take suggested that scientists who would not admit they were wrong were fools.

you appear to have misread the discussion in this entry to be Paul saying both that (a) scientists who won't admit they are wrong are theologians AND (b) scientists who won't admit they are wrong are fools.

obviously, that isn't the case. you've misread the entry.

needless to say, i wouldn't worry about it.
it happens to the best of us.

If I am to understand, base... (Below threshold)

If I am to understand, based on his petulant reaction to Paul's many posts on the subject, that Andy is a scientist, and he is so plainly wrong --- I mean, WRONG -- in this simple exercise of reading comprehension, then Andy would just be an idiot. I can't imagine the boy properly reading a lab protocol if he can't even follow a simple declaratory sentence.

Oh, -S- just as an aside (a... (Below threshold)

Oh, -S- just as an aside (and purely for informational purposes, not to be snarky), most of the time when the Bible talks about "fools," it is a moral judgement, not a judgement of intelligence. A topical search of Biblegateway for the term "fool" is an example.

Just FYI.

Looks like a big, fat straw... (Below threshold)
Orac:

Looks like a big, fat strawman argument you're using up there, Paul. Please point out to us the scientist who considers evolution the total truth or who won't concede that evolution as a theory might require modification someday, which is what you seem to be implying about some who have taken you to task for your foolishness on evoluton. (Correct me if you are not implying that; I wouldn't want to be guilty of the straw man argument myself.) Scientists can be as dogmatic as anyone else (such as yourself), but in the end, the data always wins out. It may take decades or even hundreds of years and be messy as hell, but science is ultimately self-correcting.

In any case, evolution is simply the best explanation that we have at present for the origin of species and the diversity of life. That evolution does occur is no longer in dispute. How it occurs, what the mechanism is, these are the areas of active research. It is likely that there will be modifications to the theory of evolution as new data is discovered, but remember that science itself is evolutionary. For example, Einstein's Theory of Relativity demonstrated that Newton's Laws were a special case of relativity when velocities were very much less than the speed of light. Does that mean Newton was wrong? Of course not. He didn't have the means of measuring the detailed behavior of objects moving at significant fractions of the speed of light. His Laws were as accurate as any scientific theory could be at the time they were developed. It will also almost certainly be so with evolution. Any theory that will supplant evolution will have to take into account all the observations that went into the development of the current theory of evolution, because the observational and experimental data that supports the contention that evolution does occur is so overwhelming.

Real scientists understand this. Creationists don't.

I must point out that for a... (Below threshold)
RadCap:

I must point out that for anyone, in any particular instance, to suggest that he is wrong or someone else is wrong, there must be evidence to support such an assertion. An assertion about reality requires some basis in reality for making the assertion - otherwise it is simply arbitrary. And the arbitrary is properly dismissed.

In other words, unless one has some evidence on which to base a claim that the moon is made of cheese, the person who refuses to claim he might be wrong when asserting the moon is made, not of cheese but of rock, is niether a theologist nor a fool. He is completely rational.

It is the man who says he must accept a possibility of error without evidence of error who is the fool - and mystic (basing premises on faith, not reality).

Darwinists won't admit Evol... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Darwinists won't admit Evolution is a theory, but rather insist that it's a fact. Anyone would be fooling themselves to deny that natural selection alters the characteristics of living organisms. The mechanism underpinning natural selection has been used by humans for thousands of years to alter the characteristics of crops and domestic animals to out benefit. The problem comes when Darwinists claim that evolution through natural selection explains all of life's history on Earth. There simply is insufficient evidence to support that claim.

Orac states that "Any theory that will supplant evolution will have to take into account all the observations that went into the development of the current theory of evolution, because the observational and experimental data that supports the contention that evolution does occur is so overwhelming." Of course that theory already exists and does an even better job of explaining the evidence. It's called Intelligent Design and it does not claim that evolution through natural selection does not exit, but rather supplements natural selection where need, such as with irreducibly complex systems. ID also accounts for a key problem not addressed by evolution, the origin of life itself.

The criticism of ID by Darwinists is that it's religion not science, but that's a false belief. ID can be falsified simply by proving, with actual evidence, that evolution through natural selection can account for all proposed irreducibly complex systems. Until that day Evolution remains an unproven theory and those who say otherwise are making a statement of faith, not of science.




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