What do “journalists” know?

Finally, as promised, my look at the WhistleBlower edition HIJACKING SCIENCE

Well in Farah’s case bugger all. There is possibly nobody less qualified to comment on science than a man with a B.A. in communications. However, one would hope that a man with a B.A in communication at least owned a dictionary so he could look up the difference between law (in the scientific sense), theorize vs theory (again in the scientific sense), and hypothesis (and once more). You don’t even need a dictionary. Here, let me Google that for you. Farah, here is the link you want. Clicking too much effort?

Hypothesis:A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproved, but not proven to be true.

Theory:A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproved. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it’s an accepted hypothesis.

Law:A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain ‘why’.

Now compare that to Farah’s repeated claim that scientists can only “theorize” about things.

Have you ever thought about what scientists really know, as opposed to what they theorize?

Science is supposed to to be about testing hypotheses to establish facts about the known universe.

You can try this at home.

There is an established law of gravity. Jump in the air and you will return to earth. Jump up while in outer space and you will keep going until acted upon by some outside force. This much we all know. Yet, in all the years science has been studying gravity, it remains essentially unexplained.

Science can’t explain everything. It can’t explain the origins of the universe. It can only theorize about it. Science can’t explain the origin of life. It can only theorize about it.

There are lots of things science can’t explain , but about which it can only theorize.

So much wrong in just six short paragraphs. While we are on that topic, am I the only one that goes mad reading one of Farah’s articles with his one sentence paragraphs?

You will notice them typically towards the end.

When he is trying to emphasis his point.

No matter how related they are.

Someone also needs to teach the man to use a semi-colon.

This is classic anti-science bashing. Science can’t “prove” anything so you are free to discount anything you don’t like. Farah mis-characterises the scientific method when he says that scientists tests hypothesis to establish facts; no, they test hypothesis to establish theories. Scientists usually set out to disprove theories, they perform experiments and make observations looking for things that are counter-factual to the theory. Farah uses the old tactic of saying theories when he means wild arse guess, but lauds what he calls “facts about the known universe” which he describes as tested hypothesis. That is what a theory in science actually is. He seems so utterly confused it is no wonder he holds established science in such little regard.

What Farah likes is what he calls real scientists. He always calls them real scientists. Real scientists support intelligent design and disagree with man-made climate change. These real scientists are unaffected by ideology and government money. Real scientists, quite remarkably, agree with Farah.

I must confess to having slightly more sympathy for the global warming denialists than the intelligent design advocates. We are trying to make predictions about the Earth’s future climate based on less than 100 years of good data and only a few decades of solid satellite data that can actually measure the temperature of the whole Earth. I think there is a lot more room for scepticism. Some sceptics actually have jobs in universities, some even in fields related to atmospheric sciences.

But intelligent design for fucks sake? There is no bigger pack of hacks. Making money off donations from the gullible, as they peddle the book of Genesis repackaged in science-sounding speak.

Farah gets around to evolution in his second article The latest ‘amazing’ fossil find. This is a staggeringly lazy article by Farah. It is two pages because of font and layout, printed like the other articles it would take up about half a page. Most of it is taken from this article on creation.com. I am not saying he copied it, but it is clear he didn’t look into the subject beyond this one article. The only two quote’s from the scientist responsible for this discovery, Dirk Fuchs, appear in both Farah’s and the CMI article. Once again though he gives us an exclusive look at his ignorance:

It’s all based on science’s doctrinaire ties to time. Because evolution has become a matter of faith for many scientists, they determined long ago that the earth must be billions of years old. It would take that long, they decided, for the diversity of life we see on earth to occur.

So the earth’s crust was labeled by time periods. The age of the fossils are determined by where they are found in the strata, which is somewhat arbitrarily labeled by time periods.

Talk about putting the cart before the horse! No, the strata were noticed first. They are not arbitrarily labelled, they are the same all over the earth, from the UK to the American mid-West to China to Australia and frozen under the ice in Antarctica. Every time we look there is the same strata, in the same order, with the same fossils. Farah completely fails to mention how the time was calculated using multiple radioactive clocks to determine the age of each strata, but of course he does that would undermine his whole strawman.

Add in his rants about global warming being a conspiracy to take away our freedom and we have the complete basket of right-wing pseudoscience talking points. The only thing Farah has shown with his special edition of whistleblower is that whilst he is an appalling and lazy journalist, he is a worse scientist and should stick to the things he is less shit at.

About Pi

Normally known as π on RationalWiki. A mathematics PhD student with an unhealthy interest in politics and religion.
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3 Responses to What do “journalists” know?

  1. Norseman says:

    I don’t see a link to Farah’s article (WND), but I think that’s a good thing. I can imagine an attempt to serious-face his WHISTLEBLOWING ENTRY, while in-between every paragraph there’s a

    ***”Fight Obama from Kenya with your WND t-shirt! Get half-off Ann Coulter’s “I fist myself while wearing the american flag to Obama’s blackness” book! Order NOW!”***

    advertisement that simply tosses out any credibility he’s trying to sustain.

    • Pi says:

      Hardcopy, offline. From WND’s magazine.

      • PsyGremlin says:

        Then again, Farah’s tactic makes sense. To be honest, there’s probably a lot of people – especially amongst his audience, who don’t know the difference between “theory” and “hypothesis” and will happily swallow his interpretation thereof.

        That said, it’s a good thing that he’s only really preaching to the choir. The chances of WND’s insanity actually converting (reverting?) somebody are slim, and – present company excluded – by the time you get round to actually giving him money for his drivel, you’re pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool fuckhead.

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