Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Break The Silence: Combatting The Quiet Censorship of Science

One reaction that I'm often met with when I relate the story about my 1999 evolutionary computation paper is incredulity that a censorious attitude towards science still exists "in this day and age". I always respond that this shouldn't surprise the speaker, but it should incense him. That is, as a scientist, you should expect but not brook attempts to silence you. I hold it to be a solemn duty.

Call it the price of intellectual freedom: eternal intellectual vigilance. Your ideas are always under attack, and their challengers are always trying to supplant them. The difference between the scientific and nonscientific challengers is, in principle, that the rules of challenge are well-established and acknowledged in science; they are the ones we've agreed to play by. In science, if you want to replace someone else's ideas with you own, you must demonstrate that they are better in ways that anyone should be able to understand by studying your communications, and confirm for themselves with sufficient resources. (The transparency - call it openness or glasnost - that technology brings to this process, or the lack thereof that persists in some fields of science, is a topic for another post.) In nonscientific culture, such as political discourse fueled by religious debate, degeneration to ad hominem attacks and hitting below the belt is par for the course. More on this when I have time to tell you the aftermath of the e-mail exchange over that GECCO paper.

Tags: evolution, religion, science

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