Tuesday, September 02, 2014

“Junk science” has been junked

Have you seen the charge that some scientist’s work is “junk science” lately?

It always frosted me when I read an op-ed or letter to the editor that charged that some widely accepted scientific work was “junk science”.  “Junk science” is a contradiction.  If it is “junk” then it is not science.  If it is science, then it is not “junk”.  Science is postulating a hypothesis and then testing it.  If a number of scientists can replicate the tests, then the hypothesis can start to be called a theory.

A good example of a hypothesis that couldn’t be replicated was “cold fusion”.  A single lab coming up with a drug to cure whatever is not really proven until hundreds or even thousands of cases can demonstrate the drug gives the desired results.

I think that those who promoted the idea that the mounting evidence of global warming was “junk science” have finally decided that it was a poor phrase to promote their own interest in a denial of global warming.

I was inspired to write this blog by Dr. Phil Plait’s introduction to “50 popular beliefs that people think are true” by Guy P. Harrison:

“The basic property that makes science science is that it’s self-checking.  You don’t just make an assumption; you test it.  You see if it works the next time you use it. And you don’t assume because it did, it always will.”

And for people who dismiss scientific research with, “It is only a theory”, I hope they don’t walk off any cliffs because gravity is only a theory.