Junk Science & Bogus Studies

"At Least the Biotech Terrorists Are Consistent ... They're Always Wrong." Thus proclaimed an article by Steve Milloy, the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001) and publisher of JunkScience.com.* Milloy charges that exaggerated and mistaken worldwide headlines regarding allergies supposedly caused by bio-engineered corn continue a pattern of misreported scientific findings that support a political agenda.

Scientists and researchers find themselves clarifying or refuting articles and books that misconstrue and even blatantly misrepresent their findings for political and social purposes. The busy layperson subjected to this deluge of interpretations is placed in the impossible position of discerning the truth. Some opt for a nearly all-pervasive cynicism as a coping strategy. We offer a bit of perspective on a few important issues.

Some examples: the well-known and thoroughly debunked 10 percent claim (still used widely by homosexual activists) promulgated by Kinsey in the 1940s. Blatant uses of discredited theses like the peppered moth as proof of evolution by natural selection continue to darken the pages of textbooks, despite wide and repeated criticism. The "population explosion" myth of the 1970s lives on. Evangelical Christians sometimes overreact in such a way as to fall for crackpot theories. And scientists, overwhelmed by the information overload brought on by the digital revolution, find it difficult to resist jumping on popular research programs. We present these issues in depth in our Special Focus.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Featured Articles:

Evangelicals and Crackpot Science
Robert C. Newman
Because of the tension which has developed between the scientific and the evangelical communities in the past century and a half, Bible believers are often (rightly or wrongly) suspicious of the discoveries and theorizing of modern science. This has led to a rather widespread attraction to theories viewed as crackpot by scientists and other educated people. Some examples are discussed and strategies proposed to protect Christians from looking unnecessarily foolish before the watching world.

Second Thoughts about Peppered Moths
Jonathan Wells
"Every student of biological evolution learns about peppered moths. The dramatic increase in dark forms of this species during the industrial revolution, and experiments pointing to differential bird predation as the cause, have become the classical story of evolution by natural selection. The same careful scientific approach which established the classical story in the first place, however, has now revealed major flaws in it. It... should no longer be presented as a textbook example of evolution in action. If the purpose of science education is to teach students how to do good science, then instead of re-telling the classical story textbooks would do better to focus on how science revealed its flaws."

Upholding Accuracy in Science Journalism: PBS Misses the Mark
Chuck Colson
Regarding the PBS special entitled Evolution and its treatment of "the God question," Chuck Colson writes, "Your tax dollars help pay for public broadcasting. A full and accurate debate serves the cause of truth. Anything less is propaganda from a worldview that has already lost much of its credibility."

World Population
Rich Milne
It was once fashionable to speak of a "population explosion." The popularity of this phrase has receded. The reasoning behind it, however, is still used in powerful circles. The author examines the claims that underlie the population movement.

Homosexuality Is Not Inherited, and Science Fiction Solutions Won't Help
Richard Fitzgibbons
A letter written by Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. and NARTH member to the Washington Times published January 24, 1997.

The Gay Youth Suicide Myth
Peter LaBarbera
The rate of suicide has nearly tripled among young people since 1965. Efforts to discover the root causes of this epidemic of self-inflicted violence must be dispassionate and free of politics. However, homosexual activists have manipulated this national tragedy to promote their political agenda.

The Fire in the Equations: Science, Religion, and the Search for God
Review by Stephen M. Barr
"Kitty Ferguson has a gift for explaining abstruse scientific ideas with homely analogies, and her accounts are on the whole quite accurate, in spite of the fact that she is not trained as a scientist. She is not as sure-footed, however, when it comes to the implications of scientific theories." Barr gives insight into one example of the difficulty journalists and popular writers have in interpreting complex issues for ordinary people (i.e., non-specialists).

The Second Time as Farce: Galileo Redux
Jonathan Carson
Carson critiques the current trend--especially by Vice President Al Gore and certain environmentalists--toward blaming the weather on man-made, not divine, intervention.

Recommended Article:

The Web as Dictator of Scientific Fashion
James Glantz
A few scientists...are now saying what would have sounded not only retrograde but also deeply uncool just a few years ago: The World Wide Web and cheap satellite communications have brought trouble as well as opportunity to the scientific enterprise.

* http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,27297,00.html

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