Is evolution falsifiable? What would falsify evolution?

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zer0netgain
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04 Dec 2009, 9:47 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
It is true to say that I have not researched and studied the creationist line, why would I, it has been done for me by others who have a far better understanding on the subject. I have listened to, watched and read enough of the debate to come to the conclusion that 'creationist science' has been discredited.


This illustrates an important concept for ALL SIDES in any debate. We basically do not do our own research. Frankly, I doubt many could. Too much data. Too little time. We trust sources we feel have earned our trust so that we put great weight in their conclusions.

To that end:

What happens if your trusted source has a bias but keeps it hidden well?

What happens if your trusted source simply makes an error?

What happens if your trusted source WAS credible but becomes biased over time but your trust in its credibility colors you to believe all that comes down after it starts imposing its biases? (for the sake of debate, keep in mind many people aren't super logical about everything they consider)

If you can control the flow of information, if you can color people's perception of sources and issues, you can shape the outcome no matter what the evidence really says.

I have a friend who went to seminary. He believes things that really skirt the edge of what the Bible teaches, and that's because he respects his "godly professors" who based their teachings on what they were taught, which was taught by their professors...and so on. Never the realization that SOMEONE may have been wrong. Nobody in the chain of teaching might have had a bias to distort the information, but simply be wrong and since everything was done by men of good reputation, we infer infallibility in the teaching based on the character of the teacher and not the testability of the material.



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04 Dec 2009, 9:54 pm

Orwell wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
As per honest scholars, I view Dr Jonathan Sarfati as such. A few others also, but I can honestly say that he is respectable.

It's hard to cite Sarfarti as a valid authority here because he has no training in biology and has published no research in it. He's a physical chemist- sure, he's a scientist, but in an unrelated field.


Though that is not to say that chemistry is unrelated to biology. Also, just because his doctorate is in chemistry does not mean that he has no training in biology.

Anyhow, if you wish for a few biologists, though I don't know them so well:

Dr Robert W. Carter Ph.D. Marine Biology, http://creation.com/dr-robert-carter-cv
Dr Georgia Purdom Ph.D. Molecular Genetics, http://creation.com/dr-georgia-purdom
Donald James Batten, B.Sc.Agr. (Hons 1), Ph.D. Plant physiologist, tropical fruit expert, http://creation.com/dr-don-batten-cv



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04 Dec 2009, 11:31 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Though that is not to say that chemistry is unrelated to biology. Also, just because his doctorate is in chemistry does not mean that he has no training in biology.

Specifically physical chemistry, which is about as far removed from biology as you can get within chemistry. The average math professor at my university has done more research in biology than Sarfarti.

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Anyhow, if you wish for a few biologists, though I don't know them so well:

Dr Robert W. Carter Ph.D. Marine Biology, http://creation.com/dr-robert-carter-cv
Dr Georgia Purdom Ph.D. Molecular Genetics, http://creation.com/dr-georgia-purdom
Donald James Batten, B.Sc.Agr. (Hons 1), Ph.D. Plant physiologist, tropical fruit expert, http://creation.com/dr-don-batten-cv

The molecular geneticist is the most relevant, but her CV is rather thin and the fact that she associates with the ridiculous Creation Museum does not help her case.


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04 Dec 2009, 11:40 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
As concerning the particular list of creationists that present the appearance of being dishonest, I would say that only Ken Ham is. Not for what he teaches in regard to the origins debate, but for his stunt back in 2006 involving what he did to the former Answers in Genesis branch in Australia. Kent Hovind, I don't think he views himself as being dishonest, but many of his arguments back in 2002 were out of date or even the quality of email forwards. See, http://creation.com/maintaining-creatio ... ent-hovind if you wish to read about the disagreement of that time between AiG and Hovind. Duane Gish, I think he still works for ICR, his PhD is in biochemistry. Back in the 80's, I think or perhaps the 70's, Gould accused him of "quote-mining", however, I think the accusation is false, but even if not there is more to this than just the folly of one proponent. As for Ray Comfort, I don't think he has even had a science based education but he is just a popularizer, or attempting to be so. The qualifications of Ken Ham and Kent Hovind aren't much better though, just PhDs in science education. Ray Comfort is probably more annoying for the "Way Of The Master" so called method of cornering "evangelism" whereby you ask leading questions, and that dose of reprehensibility adds distaste to anything he says regarding anything, including the topic of origins. However, even if all these people not only presented the appearance of dishonesty, but were actually dishonest, it would be the fallacy of composition to infer that because a given subset is dishonest that all are also.

Well, the issue isn't what a person regards themselves as, but rather what the public regards these people as.

Duane Gish's major work is in fossil records though, from what I've heard, and that matter isn't so much biochemistry as it is paleontology, evolutionary biology, or geology. Additionally, Gish has been attacked in the past for dishonest presentation of information, and seemingly somewhat justly given the exchange between Gish and Richard Trott. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/gish-rutgers.html

Well, given a perceived dishonesty on the part of a significant number of popularizers, along with the overwhelming rejection of the idea by most scientists both combined do provide some solid basis for some induction that the group is dishonest. After all, dishonesty would account for the rejection MUCH better than conspiracy.

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Apparent age is basically calling God a liar, as is often the argument which is used against it. Really though, some pastors use faulty arguments as a hand-waving device. They don't know how to address the question, and usually these are the pastors who posit that "head-knowledge" is practically evil while "heart-trust" and emotionalism are paramount. However, they just are bad examples that lead some people to practically reject everything else they say because they teach crap mixed in with the rest of their teachings. It is sort of like parents who lead their children to believe in Santa Claus because it is "fun", but later in life they find that they have been lied to, and such "fibbing" and "white lies" has a potential to place suspicion and mistrust on every other thing that they have been taught. But, not everything that they have been taught is false, though with one example of dishonesty the rest are put into question.

Wouldn't Creationism then be the same thing given the overwhelming scientific acceptance of evolution? By this point it really almost seems that evolution is really the leading scientific theory, and any adaptation by newer beliefs is just a matter of trying to avoid contradictions with evolution where they can't be afforded. Perhaps Robin Ince's presentation overstates the similarities between ID and Creationism, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdocQHsPCNM however, it does seem noteworthy that the gap between creationism and ID does not seem overwhelmingly large given the sudden exchange of words in Pandas and People following the rejection of creationism as science, and given that the court in Kitzmiller v Dover basically ended up lumping the two together after hearing the evidence. In any case, the person putting forward this idea didn't seem like the sort attacking "head-knowledge" at all from what I saw.

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As per honest scholars, I view Dr Jonathan Sarfati as such. A few others also, but I can honestly say that he is respectable.

Yes, he is a genius at telling us how those dinosaurs got on that ark. http://creation.com/how-did-dinosaurs-grow-so-big :roll:

In any case, Sarfati is known for criticizing people for a lack of credentials when he himself has the same problem. (an issue I only bring up because Orwell brought up his credentials)

To be more honest, I am still unsure. I know PZ has attacked Sarfati for misrepresenting currently known information about digit development, however, generally I don't actually hear much about Sarfati one way or another, so I can't comment other than what I've heard about him being very arrogant from one person.

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Actually, the Ptolemaic model of geocentrism was accepted in academic circles for about 1,500 years before the heliocentric model was accepted. The heliocentric model had been in existence since the time of Aristarchus in 300 BC, but it was never as popular because geocentrism seemed more intuitive. The reference frame that we view space from on the Earth gives a faulty appearance of being such. It is easier for the mind to think in terms of items moving around us rather than do the additional mathematics including our motion, and such ease of "understanding" and simplicity promote it. By the time of Brahe, Copernicus, Kepler, et al, geocentrism had been embedded in the academic world as a fact. Questioning it was tantamount to questioning the four elements model of alchemy or the four humors model of medicine, at that time. These were things which were developed by those wise and respectable Greek philosophers, whose authority was difficult to question. Awesomelyglorious, I know you probably mean that young earth creationists have the semblance of being as incorrect as the proponents of geocentrism as we look back on them today in the light of current knowledge. However, during the heyday of geocentrism when it was the mainstream paradigm of cosmology, I think that young earth creationists today would not be properly analogous to geocentrists.

Umm.... this little history really is quite off-topic. I am not talking about past geocentrism, but rather current geocentrism. I mean, in the past intelligent design and creationist ideas were also more respectable. I mean, I know you've cited Cicero on the matter. And static notions of species is also something that existed before evolution and is itself derived somewhat from Greek philosophy, from what I've heard. (I recently read this from one of Dennett's books, but I strongly suspect the book of poor examination of history, as Dennett's statements about Herbert Spencer contradict all of the other sources I have read about Spencer, except for that one famous book by Richard Hofstadter)

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No, I didn't think you were being dismissive, I think you were explaining why most people generally are dismissive.

Well, the other thing is that I am dismissive of the claim for many of the reasons I outlined. I am not an expert on these matters, but I clearly have open Darwinian sympathies. To me, the sympathies for the ID and creationist view, and the intuitive problems with evolution are the same as the sympathies to communism(an intelligently designed, government-created economy) and intuitive problems with a relatively free market system.



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05 Dec 2009, 12:00 am

zer0netgain wrote:
This illustrates an important concept for ALL SIDES in any debate. We basically do not do our own research. Frankly, I doubt many could. Too much data. Too little time. We trust sources we feel have earned our trust so that we put great weight in their conclusions.

Well, right, we aren't biologists.

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To that end:

What happens if your trusted source has a bias but keeps it hidden well?

What happens if your trusted source simply makes an error?

What happens if your trusted source WAS credible but becomes biased over time but your trust in its credibility colors you to believe all that comes down after it starts imposing its biases? (for the sake of debate, keep in mind many people aren't super logical about everything they consider)

Ok, that's why we have multiple sources. In any case, if Dent is trusting the opinion of the scientific community, then he isn't trusting "one source" he is trusting a large number of sources on this matter. This eliminations the issue of bias, and error to a great extent. In fact, part of the idea of science is that people do make errors and have biases, but in a large group, this will essentially balance out to a greater extent.

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If you can control the flow of information, if you can color people's perception of sources and issues, you can shape the outcome no matter what the evidence really says.

Ok, but the issue is that there is rarely one source of information, thus controlling the flow of information isn't really as much of a concern. I mean, knowledge is safe because there is competition in providers of knowledge, not because people are saints.

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I have a friend who went to seminary. He believes things that really skirt the edge of what the Bible teaches, and that's because he respects his "godly professors" who based their teachings on what they were taught, which was taught by their professors...and so on. Never the realization that SOMEONE may have been wrong. Nobody in the chain of teaching might have had a bias to distort the information, but simply be wrong and since everything was done by men of good reputation, we infer infallibility in the teaching based on the character of the teacher and not the testability of the material.

I'd think that this is likely more of a problem with seminaries, and perhaps the field of theology, and less of one with teaching. Most professors are also researchers, and these professors are the ones that teach other professors, and the other professors they teach interact with other professors, in many context and the larger scientific community. The notion that this is all just a big chain of distortion thus does not seem plausible given that.

Seminaries on the other hand involve much stricter ideological controls than most other universities(a fact I should not need to source) and the field of theology has much weaker checks on personal bias in general.(if you disbelieve that, then how do you explain the explosion of different "Christian" theologies and nothing to really cull them?)



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05 Dec 2009, 12:03 am

sartresue wrote:
Since evolution is a theory, it is not cast in stone. I suppose nothing really is.


A theory is the second closest thing to being cast in stone there is. Only a law is more certainly true for everything in the universe. The only reason evolution is not a law is because it can not yet be proven that evolution happens to all life in the universe.



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05 Dec 2009, 12:06 am

Orwell wrote:
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Anyhow, if you wish for a few biologists, though I don't know them so well:

Dr Robert W. Carter Ph.D. Marine Biology, http://creation.com/dr-robert-carter-cv
Dr Georgia Purdom Ph.D. Molecular Genetics, http://creation.com/dr-georgia-purdom
Donald James Batten, B.Sc.Agr. (Hons 1), Ph.D. Plant physiologist, tropical fruit expert, http://creation.com/dr-don-batten-cv

The molecular geneticist is the most relevant, but her CV is rather thin and the fact that she associates with the ridiculous Creation Museum does not help her case.

If you want to know more about Georgia Purdom, here is a 25 minute interview between her and Michael Shermer.

http://skepticblog.org/2009/03/17/a-ske ... tion-land/ (I wanted to offer you the additional opportunity to read what other people thought of the interview, not that it is overly helpful)



Last edited by Awesomelyglorious on 05 Dec 2009, 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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05 Dec 2009, 12:24 am

TitusLucretiusCarus wrote:
ultimately though evolution does not require a deity and is therefore a simpler and more elegant concept.


Naturally.

My sig line by Douglas Adams refers specifically to the theory of evolution


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05 Dec 2009, 12:35 am

zer0netgain wrote:
DentArthurDent wrote:
It is true to say that I have not researched and studied the creationist line, why would I, it has been done for me by others who have a far better understanding on the subject. I have listened to, watched and read enough of the debate to come to the conclusion that 'creationist science' has been discredited.


This illustrates an important concept for ALL SIDES in any debate. We basically do not do our own research. Frankly, I doubt many could. Too much data. Too little time. We trust sources we feel have earned our trust so that we put great weight in their conclusions.

To that end:

What happens if your trusted source has a bias but keeps it hidden well?




In debate that has a reasonable amount of credibility on either side I will take the time to investigate both sides, however this is no such case. For the proponents of evolution to have such a significant bias that hides the fact they are wrong would amount to a world wide conspiracy. No such conspiracy exists, the bias in this matter is on the side of the creationists who continually distort scientific findings, take statements out of context and commit out right lies.

AG thanks for that link to Savarti and the ark here is a paragraph from the text, which btw is not taking this foolish genius out of context

"Certainly, dinosaurs would have been on the Ark: God told Noah to take two of every kind of land animal (seven of the few ‘clean’ animals). Dinosaurs were land animals, and they must have been alive then, because so many of them were fossilized in the Flood."

How anyone can take this sort of nonsense seriously is beyond me, to place humans and dinosaurs into the same time frame is an absurdity. Really if you creationists stand by this then you have zero credibility.


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Last edited by DentArthurDent on 05 Dec 2009, 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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05 Dec 2009, 12:52 am

DentArthurDent wrote:
In debate that has a reasonable amount of credibility on either side I will take the time to investigate both sides, however this is no such case. For the proponents of evolution to have such a significant bias that hides the fact they are wrong would amount to a world wide conspiracy. No such conspiracy exists, the bias in this matter is on the side of the creationists who continually distort scientific findings, take statements out of context and commit out right lies


I think people get accustomed to familiar modes of thought, ideas, and even manners of speaking. When someone presents an idea or says something that deviates too far from what they are familiar with, it tends to usually repulse people. Even saying a familiar idea in a manner which is awkward will cause repulsion in some. It is not a conspiracy at all that gives evolutionary origin proponents such a strong bias, but how familiar and even familial the notion is to them, that anything that would contradict it, or even just speak against it slightly, has the appearance of evil to their ears.



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05 Dec 2009, 1:25 am

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
I think people get accustomed to familiar modes of thought, ideas, and even manners of speaking. When someone presents an idea or says something that deviates too far from what they are familiar with, it tends to usually repulse people. Even saying a familiar idea in a manner which is awkward will cause repulsion in some. It is not a conspiracy at all that gives evolutionary origin proponents such a strong bias, but how familiar and even familial the notion is to them, that anything that would contradict it, or even just speak against it slightly, has the appearance of evil to their ears.


What a complete and utter load of bullshit, it is not that ''anything would contradict it, or even speak slightly against it" the fact of the matter is that creationism has no scientific basis. The reason people like myself get so upset with creationism is not that it offers a viable alternative and therefore challenges my strongly held misguided beliefs, no it is because creationists like Ham, Savarti lie, manipulate, and feed pure subjective drivel to kids, and impressionable adults

What you wrote above seems a far better fit to people who believe in the biblical explanation of things.


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05 Dec 2009, 2:48 am

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
I think people get accustomed to familiar modes of thought, ideas, and even manners of speaking. When someone presents an idea or says something that deviates too far from what they are familiar with, it tends to usually repulse people. Even saying a familiar idea in a manner which is awkward will cause repulsion in some. It is not a conspiracy at all that gives evolutionary origin proponents such a strong bias, but how familiar and even familial the notion is to them, that anything that would contradict it, or even just speak against it slightly, has the appearance of evil to their ears.

I don't think that this phenomenon explains much of the revulsion. I mean, it could be part of it, however, this is an extreme case of rejection of an idea, to an extent that it is utterly unlike anything else I have seen anywhere else. Not only that, but there seems to be too many other reasons for these strong reactions: as Dent spoke about creationists have put a lot of effort trying to persuade laymen and children but have not focused nearly as much in trying to build their case within the system, the conclusions of creationism strongly contradict the conclusions drawn in geology and biology and cosmology, a lot of the foundation for going towards creationism is not driven scientifically but rather seems theological as can be seen in Michael Shermer's interview with Georgia Purdom given her continual reference to scriptural truth giving her the age of the earth, even in religious circles creationists are attacked as mainstream churches attack creationism and old earth creationists attack young earth creationists all on the grounds of intellectual integrity.

I mean, let's put it this way: if this is just a matter of "modes of thought" then can you give other examples of cases as strong as the rejection of creationism?



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05 Dec 2009, 2:58 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
If you want to know more about Georgia Purdom, here is a 25 minute interview between her and Michael Shermer.

http://skepticblog.org/2009/03/17/a-ske ... tion-land/ (I wanted to offer you the additional opportunity to read what other people thought of the interview, not that it is overly helpful)

That was painful to watch.

1) She dodged almost every question. When she didn't dodge, her answers were inadequate.
2) Biologists, whether creationist or evolutionist, are not qualified to challenge dating techniques. That area belongs to physicists who actually understand radioactive decay. Also, she did not answer why it is possible to reject multiple different methods which lead to the same result. In combinatorial mathematics, a similar technique called "double counting" (doing something two different ways and getting the same result) is a common proof method. If the principal is rigorous enough for mathematics, it's more than adequate for geology.
3) I hate the claim fundies make about how you shouldn't interpret Scripture because it "interprets itself" or some other such nonsense. This is just plainly false. The act of merely reading something must necessarily involve some interpretation. This is just a cheap ploy to attempt to discredit the large number of Christians (myself included) who happened to come to different conclusions than they did after reading the same Scripture.
4) In a few cases she just seemed to completely fail to understand what she was being asked, or what the interviewer's point was. No honest intellectual inquiry can occur when you are utterly incapable of even hypothetically understanding the other side. Eg: the whole question of how she can claim to be different from people who used the Bible to justify slavery, racism, etc. She just didn't understand the point of the question at all.

The interviewer had the patience of a saint. I would have lost my temper at Purdom's idiocy before five minutes had passed.

I actually live only a short drive away from the Creation Museum. Some friends and I considered going to it just for the entertainment value, but I knew I would be far to frustrated and infuriated by the blatant inaccuracies I saw. Plus, each person who visits contributes $20 to be spent undermining science education in America.


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05 Dec 2009, 3:26 am

Orwell wrote:
That was painful to watch.
I can understand that, I am probably more used to such things, so I could avoid wincing. I've probably known more conservative Christians than you have.

Quote:
1) She dodged almost every question. When she didn't dodge, her answers were inadequate.

Yes, I believe that to be the case. She kept on referring back to the Bible and "man's view", rather than the actual analytical issues at stake.

Quote:
2) Biologists, whether creationist or evolutionist, are not qualified to challenge dating techniques. That area belongs to physicists who actually understand radioactive decay. Also, she did not answer why it is possible to reject multiple different methods which lead to the same result. In combinatorial mathematics, a similar technique called "double counting" (doing something two different ways and getting the same result) is a common proof method. If the principal is rigorous enough for mathematics, it's more than adequate for geology.

She could have been able to step out of her field and studied enough to challenge the issue. In this case, it seems highly unlikely that she knew a lot about what she was talking about. I mean, the notion of double counting is hard to refute, and she did just dismiss the matter.

Quote:
3) I hate the claim fundies make about how you shouldn't interpret Scripture because it "interprets itself" or some other such nonsense. This is just plainly false. The act of merely reading something must necessarily involve some interpretation. This is just a cheap ploy to attempt to discredit the large number of Christians (myself included) who happened to come to different conclusions than they did after reading the same Scripture.

She utterly missed the point. I could be sympathetic, but her point was rather bad. I mean, she seemed to hold to only two positions: either words have meanings that are directly apparent, or language is meaningless, there was not that third option that you seem to straight-up recognize. This issue is even greater given that a text as important as the Bible has a few issues:
1) It is big
2) It is written in a different language and under a different culture
3) Often people are taught what it means before they read it, meaning that certain patterns are already sought while others are rejected. This can lead to a dancing bear kind of issue, where some issues are seen but others are not.

Quote:
4) In a few cases she just seemed to completely fail to understand what she was being asked, or what the interviewer's point was. No honest intellectual inquiry can occur when you are utterly incapable of even hypothetically understanding the other side. Eg: the whole question of how she can claim to be different from people who used the Bible to justify slavery, racism, etc. She just didn't understand the point of the question at all.

Absolutely correct, she had no recognition of the issue, or real ability to answer the question in a meaningful sense.

At least now you know who Georgia Purdom is though and how she thinks about the matter.

Quote:
The interviewer had the patience of a saint. I would have lost my temper at Purdom's idiocy before five minutes had passed.

I really respect Michael Shermer. He's a smart guy. Has a masters in psychology, a PhD in the history of science, and currently teaches economics for a graduate college. He seems relatively honest as well. And, well... has the patience of a saint as well apparently.

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I actually live only a short drive away from the Creation Museum. Some friends and I considered going to it just for the entertainment value, but I knew I would be far to frustrated and infuriated by the blatant inaccuracies I saw. Plus, each person who visits contributes $20 to be spent undermining science education in America.

You need to relax and let your cynicism roam free.



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05 Dec 2009, 5:50 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Ok, that's why we have multiple sources. In any case, if Dent is trusting the opinion of the scientific community, then he isn't trusting "one source" he is trusting a large number of sources on this matter. This eliminations the issue of bias, and error to a great extent. In fact, part of the idea of science is that people do make errors and have biases, but in a large group, this will essentially balance out to a greater extent.


Ah, but there's the rub.

The "scientific community" for decades has been heavily influenced by the evolutionist sect in their midst. Anyone who disagrees risks being discredited by their evolutionist peers. It's the the equivalent of a researcher finding hard proof that the WTC was in fact brought down by controlled demolitions and the government's "experts" calling the researcher a "conspiracy theorist"...effectively discrediting his research in the public eye via slander because people don't want to associate with a "conspiracy theorist."

We've seen people who believe in God and creation be threatened with not being awarded college degrees because they will not state to their department heads that they accept evolution as FACT. Yes, this has happened. So much for freedom of thought or difference of opinion.

The evolutionist camp amongst the "scientific community" is nowhere near a super majority. However, they speak for the whole as if they are...often deriding those who do not agree by calling them names and applying derogatory labels.

Scientists are humans. We already see with "global warming" and "climate change" hard evidence that if you don't sing the "global warming" song, you don't get research grants. There is a lot of politics behind science (which there should not be) and when you can dictate the welfare of a researcher by cutting off funding if they do not back your agenda, it's amazing how many you can get to join your camp.