Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notably quotable

I am breaking my post-break silence with this observation from The Economist (March 20):

The doubters tend to focus on specific bits of empirical evidence, not on the whole picture. This is worthwhile - facts do need to be well grounded - but it can make the doubts seem more fundamental than they are. People often assume that data are simple, graspable and trustworthy, whereas theory is complex, recondite and slippery, and so give the former priority. In the case of climate change, as in much of science, the reverse is as at least fair a picture. Data are vexatious; theory is quite straightforward.

Although this comment describes the controversy surrounding climate change today, I think it applies to so much more - including human biological evolution and "intelligent design," not to mention the persistence of the fallacy of biological "race." The theory of evolution is elegant and the data tedious. Why is there an assumption that it should be otherwise?

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