The Relativity of Wrong Writ Large
All the way back in Part 1 of Vaccines and Autism, I touched on the relativity of wrong.
Either I didn’t do a good job describing it then, or people didn’t read whatI wrote before posting.
The basic question is this: “Does science really teach us anything? If science isn’t objectively right, then aren’t we all just wrong?”
In Asimov’s essay, the answer to the former question is “Yes”, and the answer to the latter is “Yes, but not all of us are as wrong as you!”.
For example. We once said the earth was flat. The earth is not flat. Science later said the earth was spherical. The earth is not spherical. More scence tells us that the earth is an oblate spheroid – that means it’s ‘width’ at the equator is bigger than it’s ‘hieght’ through the poles. Even later, more ridiculous science with satellites shows that the earth isn’t even an oblate spheroid, it’s also a little pear shaped – a little bulgier on the southern half.
So are the people who said the earth is flat just as wrong as the people who said the earth is spherical? Did science teach us anything? Absolutely! As a culture we still mock the flat-earthers. Why? Because they’re REALLLY wrong. Spherical is wrong, but much less wrong.
So lets put this idea into practice. Suppose we ask two chldren to spell “quantum” – . If they answer “kwontum”, and “noidea”, they’re both wrong, but “kwontum” is alot closer. Noidea boy has no understanding of how to spell, at least as far as we can tell. Kwontum boy may not know about the sound “qu” makes, but he knows some phonetics, it’s a start. If noidea boy said he was equally wrong, rather than more wrong, most people would disagree, and it’s easy to see why. This is the relativity of wrong in action.
Now that you know this, you too can refute half of the pseudoscientists on this very blog. Generally our aspiring pseudoscientist will couch this declaration in word salad to make it more inconspicuous, but the gist is the same. The latest, and most egregious example of this is Chuck.
There are many problems that evidence based sciences cannot currently address and may never be able to address. Not all sciences are evidenced based due to subjectivity. Evidence based sciences may never be able to answer many problems because reality is often very unethical.
The subjectivity of reality handicaps a great many possibilities for evidence based sciences. (emphasis mine)
Chuck’s entire comment is written in what seems like really smart important words. Subjectivity, ethics, we must be on to something here! Unfortunately, that entire first paragraph reduces down to “everything is subjective, and science can’t learn about anything unethical”.
First lets dispatch that whole “ethics hinders science” gibberish. I disagree. Our adversaries here seem to only understand the most direct of trials – “well if we want to test vaccines, we must have a group of people unvaccinated! Thats unethical so we can never know if vaccines work!”
I’ve already covered the evidence on how we can show that vaccines aren’t connected to autism without directly putting childrens lives at risk. You can see that it is alot more subtle than Chuck’s understanding. Science doesn’t depend on the direct test. Science depends on a working hypothesis. Once you have a hypothesis, you can find a question to test. It doesn’t need to be the direct question!
What I really love though, is what I’ve emphasized in bold print. This is an amazing piece of work. Chuck makes the blanket claim that reality is subjective. Reality is not subjective. Reality is real.
Many people may make subjective interpretations about reality. Heck, you could even reasonably say everyone makes subjective interpretations about reality. That doesn’t make reality subjective. This is beyond an epic fail. This is a fractal fail.
What’s Chuck saying when he says “everything is subjective”? He’s really saying “we’re all equally wrong.” He had a bunch of big words around it, but his comment comes right back to the relativity of wrong.
The entire point of science is to reduce the subjective interpretations we all make. It may not always suceed right away. Thats we rely on levels of evidence, and why science produces better answers over time.
So why would Chuck and all of the other pseudoscience crew would have you believe that because “reality is subjective”? Once you believe that drivel, his answers to lifes questions, devoid of any data, become just as valid as Science’s.
However you know better than that now! We may be wrong today. We may be wrong tomorrow. But we will always less wrong than Chuck.