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In genuine science, no one argues that a lack of alternative explanations is by itself a sufficient reason to consider their theories correct and accurate. In pseudoscience, such arguments are made all of the time. In logic, this is commonly referred to as an argument from ignorance: something is claimed to be true merely because it hasn't been proven false and/or no alternatives have been proven true.


Read Article: Argument from Ignorance in Parapsychology

March 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(1) tracieh says:

I watched Eugenie Scott’s lecture on Science Education over at Dawkin’s site. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an otherwise pretty reasonable person. Here in Texas, our science standards were scrutinized by our conservative SBOE, and they went on about “both sides” and “weaknesses.” And anyone who follows this issue on the science side, Scott was making this point, knows that there is no “other side” or “weaknesses.” The debates in evolutionary theory within science are all about the details of specific issues. There is huge consensus on common ancestry and natural selection’s influence. So, my friend brought up “both sides,” and I replied with, “Well, OK then, for creationism, what evidence would you present for _that side_?”

I got back a look as though I had two heads. I said, “I don’t know of any solid body of scientifically peer-reviewed work that is considered scientifically sound that would be appropriate to a science classroom. So, I’m asking, when you present ID, what evidence would you present for _that side_ when you teach it? Unless there is some scientifically accepted evidence appropriate to present in a _science_ classroom–what would you present?”

Nothing back.

The idea is that you just go in and talk about why Evolution is wrong or flawed or incomplete or whatever you think it is. You can’t present “both sides” because there is no other scientific “side” to present at this time. There is no competing “body” of scientific literature and evidence that evolutionary biologists are arguing should replace evolution.

Then I watched Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit, and he also addressed “negative evidence.” He noted the difference between SETI and UFOlogy. In SETI they try and debunk their own hypotheses. In UFOlogy, when you ask for an alien body or artifact, you’re told the government has them, but they’re hiding them. Shermer noted “that’s not evidence.” It’s no more evidence to produce a claim there is a body, but I can’t see it, than it is to claim the universe is perfectly designed, but I can’t see it since original sin has somehow mucked it all up so that it no longer looks perfectly designed.

Why not skip the middle man and just say it doesn’t look like a perfectly designed universe, because it isn’t a perfectly designed universe? Maybe alien bodies weren’t found and hidden…maybe they were never here at all…?

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