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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Post-normal science?: Is that where we are now?

British journalist Melanie Phillips has an interesting item on "post-normal" science:

The ‘post-normal’ science of climate change

From the horse’s mouth — climate change theory has nothing to do with the truth. In a remarkable column in today’s Guardian Mike Hulme, professor in the school of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia and the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research — a key figure in the promulgation of climate change theory but who a short while ago warned that exaggerated forecasts of global apocalypse were in danger of destroying the case altogether — writes that scientific truth is the wrong tool to establish the, er, truth of global warming. Instead, we need a perspective of what he calls ‘post-normal’ science:
Philosophers and practitioners of science have identified this particular mode of scientific activity as one that occurs where the stakes are high, uncertainties large and decisions urgent, and where values are embedded in the way science is done and spoken. It has been labelled ‘post-normal’ science…The danger of a ‘normal’ reading of science is that it assumes science can first find truth, then speak truth to power, and that truth-based policy will then follow.


The conflict, Phillips suggests, is between "scientists who believe in empirical observation and the truth, and ‘post-normal’ scientists who believe in ideology and lies." Reminds me somehow of Darwinism. Can't think why.

I think that "post-normal" is to science what "post-Christian" is to Christian: A failed attempt to accommodate materialism.
If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.

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