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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Scientists terrified that people don't trust them?

But how much "trust" in science is reasonable?

In a most interesting article, "Whither the revered scientist?", Peter Calamai of the Toronto Star asks, noting
After two days of provocative ideas and spirited exchanges at an international gathering recently in Toronto, British museum curator Robert Bud neatly summed up the collective wisdom.

"The scientists are terrified."

This widespread angst among scientists has been sparked by evidence that the traditional social compact between science and the public has been irrevocably sundered. Put bluntly, much of the public no longer implicitly trusts either scientists or their pronouncements about everything from climate change to the safety of children's vaccines.

Most people begin to lose trust when they are ordered to believe stuff they suspect ain't so.

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Finnish school shooting: Student social Darwinist dies, kills eight others

A Finnish student, believed to have shot eight people, including his school's headmistress, seems to have been motivated by social Darwinism.
In the rambling text posted on the site, Auvinen said that he is "a cynical existentialist, anti-human humanist, anti-social social-Darwinist, realistic idealist and god-like atheist.
"I am prepared to fight and die for my cause," he wrote. "I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection."

Awful. In the course I was teaching last night, I was trying to explain to my adult students that social Darwinism really is a serious problem. People can come to believe that they are entitled to kill others to "help" Darwinian evolution. That's exactly what William Jennings Bryan was concerned about at the real (not fake) Scopes trial.

Here's a video link. (Note: As of November 9 2007, the video link was removed. Go here for story updates.)

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