Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vox Day comes up with some really dumb stuff sometimes.

Here's his latest challenge:
PTQ claimed that science has a vast track record of correct predictions while religion has none. "Science has produced zillions of correct predictions. Religion has produced none. A bigger winner-loser gulf does not exist." Very well, then let's place a bet on the matter:

Religion: The poor will be with you always.
Science: Global poverty will be ended by 2025.
This is basically the foundation of a straw-man argument, and it's easy to see why. The challenge for science conflates a scientific (or, if you prefer, engineering) question, "Do we have the resources available do to this?", with a political question, "Can we convince people to accomplish this goal by 2025?" It's not exactly fair to fault the scientific method for failing to correctly motivate people to adopt one particular course of action, poverty reduction, over another. As Vox is usually the first to admit, science doesn't provide any answers as to how people should live their lives.

Suppose science concludes that the United States could spend, say, $1 trillion on poverty reduction per year through 2025 to end global poverty. Then suppose that our next several presidents decide not to spend money on poverty reduction because the pharaonic-scale pyramid that will house the mortal remains of President Obama is a funding priority. Does that mean that the scientific method is flawed and we should all give up science and become Benedictine monks instead? Obviously not!

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