You might think that distinguishing between these two types of expert scientists would be a real challenge and you would be right. Let's watch how David Klinghoffer manoeuvres through this logical minefield at: ENCODE Results Separate Science Advocates from Propagandists. He begins with ....
"I must say," observes an email correspondent of ours, who is also a biologist, "I'm getting a kick out of watching evolutionary biologists attack molecular biologists for 'hyping' the ENCODE results."Okay, you can see where this is headed. There are two type of scientists: those who focus on real science and those who let their biases interfere with real science. You can imagine which ones the IDiots think are on which side of the ENCODE/junk DNA publicity fiasco.
True, and equally enjoyable -- in the sense of confirming something you strongly suspected already -- is seeing the way the ENCODE news has drawn a bright line between voices in the science world that care about science and those that are more focussed on the politics of science, even as they profess otherwise.
Still, it might be interesting to see which examples he chooses.
An article in Science by Elizabeth Pennisi offers an illustration of the former -- science writing that's about science -- pulling no punches and offering no apology for making it unambiguous how big the ENCODE results really are.Interesting choice. Elizabeth Pennisi is a Staff Writer for Science magazine. She has an undergraduate degree in biology and a Masters degree in science writing. Her article in Science [ENCODE Project Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA] is a classic example of something Chris DiCarlo covered in our class yesterday. It's called ""confirmation bias." In this case, Pennisi has long been troubled by the fact that humans don't seem to be very special compared to other species and she has written extensively about the mysterious "dark matter" in our genome. She ignores all of the evidence that we really do have only 25,000 genes and that most of our genome is junk. Instead, she writes major stories about those studies that claim to have discovered functions for all that junk. I discussed this in: Science Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA.
When's the last time you've seen a creationist fairly discuss both sides of a genuine scientific controversy?
Returning to the main point, who does Klinghoffer choose to represent the other side of his false dichotomy (science advocates and propagandists)?
Get that? It's the "death knell" of junk DNA. The title of the article, "ENCODE Project Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA," is not one bit less forthright than the title of our own Jonathan Wells's Myth of Junk DNA, which (prophetically) appeared in print more than a year before the ENCODE "flotilla" of articles (as another biologist friend aptly puts it) did.Isn't that interesting? Athena Andreadis is a practicing scientist, a professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School whose lab works on the expression of human genes.1 Her article in Scientific American points out why the story put out by the ENCODE consortium is misleading [Junk DNA, Junky PR] and she supports it with actual scientific evidence for junk DNA—something that Elizabeth Pennisi didn't do. (I don't think Athena Andreadis got everything right as I discuss in: Athena Andreadis Writes for Scientific American: Junk DNA, Junky PR.)
Now compare that to a writeup for Scientific American, which focuses almost exclusively on the political management of the ENCODE crisis. Of top importance: not the science, but the dread that somehow this will grant a victory to the bogeymen, "creationists."
Under the title "Junk DNA, Junky PR," Athena Andreadis complains: ...
Andreadis explains why the ENCODE consortium got it wrong and what their motives might be. She concludes that the ENCODE workers are guilty of "hype" in order to promote their work and garner maximum fame and glory for what turns out to be just a lot of boring data. She is correct. Lot's of scientists who work in this field agree with her.
Yet writing for Science, and having nothing to say about the PR implications but simply sticking to the science, Pennisi leaves you in no doubt that a once precious myth has, indeed, passed into oblivion. Just, I emphasize, as Discovery Institute's Jonathan Wells said more than a year ago.Not much of a choice as far as I'm concerned. On the one hand you have a scientist who discusses both sides of this scientific controversy and presents evidence on both sides. She concludes that the controversy is still alive.
So, one writer who seems to have missed her calling as a public-relations specialist says one thing. Another writer who appears wholly uninterested in PR says another. Who are you going to believe?
Let's remind ourselves how Klnighoffer started his post.
True, and equally enjoyable -- in the sense of confirming something you strongly suspected already -- is seeing the way the ENCODE news has drawn a bright line between voices in the science world that care about science and those that are more focussed on the politics of science, even as they profess otherwise.The voice that "cares about science" is a science writer for Science and the voice that's focused on the "politics of science" is the practicing molecular biologist who presents both sides of the controversy.
Keep in mind that the author of this post on Evolution News & Views is David Klinghoffer, a writer who presumably is completely innocent of any charge of bias, especially confirmation bias.
Can anyone answer the question in the title?
1. Andreadis is a molecular biologist. The criticisms of the ENCODE consortium are by and large comping from biochemists and molecular biologists and not from evolutionary biologists as Klinghoffer's source states. Just another example of the incredible skill of IDiots in getting everything wrong.