Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Question Everything


Many people are understandably impressed by statements like this from the National Academy of Sciences:

Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999)

"Scientists most often use the word "fact" to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong."


However let’s not forget how that even the most eminent and respected experts can sometimes be completely wrong:

Excerpt from the address of the United States Secretary of State to the United Nations Security Council Wednesday February 5, 2003

“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction”

Even the most intelligent and well informed people are fallible. Question everything.

8 comments:

Vile Blasphemer said...

There is an obvious, massive, value difference between a scientific peer review and a contentious government claim.

Does the concept of questioning everything extend to Orthodox Judaism teachings?

jewish philosopher said...

Scientific peer review just means that a lot of experts agree on something. The entire United States government leadership, including the CIA and State Department, agreed that Iraq had WMD. Not a THEORY but a FACT.

About OJ, sure, go ahead and ask.

Vile Blasphemer said...

See? Hong Kong... Neat, huh?

David N. Friedman said...

I am sorry to say that you are surely barking up the wrong tree on this one. Your blog is so good, why spoil it with this kind of spread of misinformation. Yes, Sadaam Hussein had WMD and was surely a major threat to the world!!

Yes, we should question things but only fools believe that Sadaam H.'s Iraq was not a threat.

Your opposition to politically-correct truths is laudable. It only hurts when you reverse course and join the politically correct nonsense that suggests that there was no WMD--this is dangerous fantasy. Guessing about ultimate originas is wildly different than detailing a very specific factual threat from a true terror state.

Please, JP, there is simply no correlation between falling for the lies about evolution and understanding that a terror regime is somehow no threat. Those with hindsight are WRONG--Sadaam is revealed to be far more dangerous than we guessed before the war--it was a shear blessing that we have done what we have done.

Please end this thread and delete it since it takes away from your argument that oftentimes majorty opinion is wrong. Today, majority opinion is wrong. We need to win this battle as a precondition of helping us win the larger war on terror.

Chaim G. said...

>However let’s not forget how that even the most eminent and respected experts can sometimes be completely wrong<

You are absolutely right. The statements of Chazal and of contemporary gedolim are another example.

I'm gratified to see that you have the right approach.

jewish philosopher said...

Mr. Friedman, I'm not sure what you mean. The Duefler Report of the Iraqi Survey Group concluded, among other things, that "Iraq had no deployable WMD of any kind as of March 2003", in direct contradiction to Mr. Powell's statement to the United Nations Security Council 19 months earlier.

My point is, that if the Secretary of State's statement to the Security Council, which I'm sure underwent far more "peer review" than any pamphlet published by the National Academy of Sciences, can be totally wrong, then Darwinism can surely be mistaken as well. We should not accept anything based on authority when common sense and the evidence proves it to be false.

David N. Friedman said...

I accept your approach but you have chosen a very poor example. Many reports, in fact, documented not only evidence of Sadaam's WMD. I applaud your efforts wholeheartedly and since I do not fit the profile of your target audience, I will not bother you further--except to communicate to you that you are doing a very good job.

The justification for War in Iraq went far beyoond the argument that he had specific WMD. This was the argument that was necessitated in the context of prosecuting the war in the UN. Similarly, Sdaam is being brought to trial mostly on the evidence of what he did to the Kurds in 1988. The fact remains that he was far more of a criminal than this one act. Al Capone was a documented criminal but all the government could prove in a legal context was one act of tax evasion. Bill Clinton and his wife committed numerous criminal acts but the case in Whitewater was spoiled by a lack of some evidence that needed to come from key partner in the conspiracy. His friends went down in ruin and served time in jail, the fact that the prosecution lacked some key bit of personal testimony does not relieve the Clintons of the accusation.

Therefore, I wish to point out that one report after the fact that fails to document an accusation is not at all the same as saying that there is no evidence.

The discussion is glossed over by the Left since they wrongly believe that the WEAPONS were the threat. In fact, the argument against Sadaam which still stands is that evidence of specific weaponry is not especially material. The fact that he stood as a terror regime, aided terrorists, paid money to terrorists, helped trained AlQueda and other terrorists and stood ready to potentially hit American targets in the future was the threat at hand. The threat was very real, understated and we are very fortunate to have removed such a threat.

Your posting seems to suggest that the action against him proved to be wrongheaded and this is probably not what you mean to say. This is where common sense comes into play and this one example about Iraq really serves as a poor one to make your point since it defeats it.

jewish philosopher said...

This is a little off the topic, however I believe that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. I don't think we are really gaining anything by staying there however. We should have left after a year, and I thought so then.