Professor John Horner, a psychologist at Colorado College wrote a letter to the Editors that was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette
(Flat-earthers, and other crank theorists, always deny science
) On January 27, 2010. Somehow I missed it in last week's paper, but that's not unusual. Whether I take the time to read the various letters depends on how well I feel, and whether there's anything that appears to be interesting to read. Wednesday, unfortunately, was a VERY bad day.
Thankfully, the Gazette archives letters, and one can read them well after they've been published. I read several responses from others addressed to Professor Horner, and became interested. I just finished Professor Horner's letter. Obviously Professor Horner is unhappy with "flat-earthers" - people that don't believe the Earth is round, and who deny science that says it's a sphere (and others like them). Agreed, it's annoying when someone who has absolutely no interest - or foundation - in science takes up valuable time (and occasionally, resources) to deny the latest scientific "breakthrough". Other than that, however, exactly what was Prof. Horner's point?
There are several possibilities, and I'll address each in turn. Let's begin with the "cause de jour", "climate change". Before we get into the steamy, smelly mess of CRUtapes, "Climategate", the unraveling of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's AR4 "scientific" assessment, and all that goes with it, let me state my personal credentials.
I began my post-secondary education at the Air Force Academy, Class of 1968. I left at Christmas break my Doolie year due to a boxing accident. I rejoined the Air Force in 1965 as an enlisted person. I spent most of the time between 1965 and April, 1991, in either the Active forces or Active Reserve forces of the Air Force. My specialty was imagery analysis - looking at all manners of reconnaissance imagery, both of a tactical and a strategic nature. That's not an easy career field to succeed in, but I left as a Master Sergeant. You also learn an incredible amount of history, geography, economics, math, and virtually every known science related to the earth and what appears on its surface. At the same time, I earned more than 200 college-level credits through classroom work, correspondence courses, and hands-on experience. I have three Associate's Degrees, but never satisfied residency requirements at any college, and therefore don't have a higher degree. I am currently disabled, and have no time or energy to commit to furthering my education. The education I have is quite sufficient for me to read and understand most technical papers.
I agree with the statement "Flat-earthers and other crank theorists always deny science". As a psychologist, Prof. Horner should understand that people are usually afraid of what they don't understand. One significant way they respond is to deny what they don't understand. That doesn't mean, however, that everyone who denies current scientific theories is necessarily a "flat-earther".
One of the most idiotic statements in circulation today is that "climate change" is real because there's a "scientific consensus". Science is NEVER decided by consensus. The scientific method is quite strict, and has no place for majority rule:
- Postulate a theory
- Gather and interpret data
- Judge the theory by the data
- If the data agrees with the theory, try to disprove it. If it doesn't agree with the theory, either gather more data or refine the theory to match the data. (NOTE: Real science NEVER changes the data (facts) to match the theory. It's always the THEORY that must be changed to conform to the data - something the Climategate "Hockey Team" did repeatedly.)
- Once the theory and the data are in agreement, publish your findings and the data (facts) the theory is based upon for others to study.
Unfortunately for "climate change", it's a "solution" looking for a problem. Our planet has gone through HUGE temperature variances, from near-global tropical conditions to 100,000-year long Ice Ages. Climate is ALWAYS in a state of change. It changes from day to night, through annual seasons, through various natural cycles that last from a year or two (El Nino) to 22-year solar cycles, to various cycles lasting 30, 60, 90, 110, 1500, 24,000 and 125,000 years (I probably missed some - there are a LOT of them that have begun to be discovered). It doesn't help so-called "climate scientists" that the world has discovered their chicanery, unscientific behavior, and just plain criminal conduct. Nor does it help that the latest IPCC report has been found to have used "tainted data". Some of the references in the last IPCC report (AR4) included "studies" from the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, and in one instance, a magazine dedicated to mountain climbing. The statement that the Himalayan glaciers would "disappear by 2035" was discovered to have been idle speculation during a telephone interview with a scientist in India, published in a non-scientific magazine. Not very scientific. We won't even get into the mess about "peer review" and the exclusion from publication of any contradictory evidence to "manmade global warming".
Unfortunately, too, this is Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family, New Life Church, and dozens of other religious organizations. Prof. Horner's attack COULD have been launched against those that adhere to a staunchly fundamentalist belief that claim the earth is only 6000 years old. Perhaps Professor Horner's attack was against those that don't accept some scientific discoveries, such as the earth being round geological principles, biology, or chemistry. Prof. Horner may be one of those that believes it's impossible to believe in God and in Science. In any case, there is nothing clear and concise in Prof. Horner's letter. In my personal opinion
, those that deny scientific evidence OR the existence of God are extremely narrow-minded. The Bible doesn't say when the Earth was formed, only that God created the "heavens and the earth". The hapless "6000 years" is the product of Bishop Unger, one poor clergyman that has caused more confusion than can be imagined. Bishop Unger tried to convert WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW into WHEN. That, too, wasn't very scientific. Bishop Unger also forgot one other thing, something countless other clergy have forgotten (or ignored) for centuries: God time is not necessarily the same as Man time. An immortal being has no use for hours, days, weeks, or years.
A major failure of "science" is its lack of common sense. Scientific evidence supposedly "proves" that there can be no God. The Bible tells us, however, that God created the heavens and the earth. Let's take a look at it through the "Scientific Method":
1. Postulate a theory
-- That there is no discernible difference between a universe that exists "by random selection" and one created by an Omnipotent God who not only created the substance of the universe, but the rules under which it operates.
2. Gather and interpret data
-- The Bible
-- All scientific evidence about the universe and everything within it (I've sampled quite a bit, but obviously haven't studied ALL the scientific [or religious] evidence that exists. I believe I've studied a sufficient amount to write this article).
3. Judge the theory by the data.
-- Interpreted correctly, the Bible states WHO (God) WHAT (the universe), and WHY (the sustainability of life). It doesn't delve into the WHEN (except, IMHO, metaphorically), or HOW.
-- The timeline is subject to speculation. Common sense suggests that God created both the physical substance of the universe, and also the "scientific" or "natural" rules that bring order to it. Accepting that God Time is highly flexible ("A day is as ten thousand years, and ten thousand years as but a day"), and also accepting that the universe is orderly, rather than chaotic, there is no scientific basis that God CANNOT exist.
-- If it is accepted that the physical laws of the universe are created by God, then scientists are merely searching for God's presence in a different manner than "preachers"or "prophets" - or psychologists.
4. If the data agrees with the theory, try to disprove it. If it doesn't agree with the theory, either gather more data or refine the theory to match the data.
-- Scientifically, the theory that there is no discernible difference between an ordered, "natural" universe and that created by an Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Eternal God cannot be DISPROVED. This is not the same as being PROVEN.
-- There is a growing preponderance of evidence that the universe as it currently exists shouldn't exist as it does, if it were not "created", but just "suddenly appeared". Chaos theory would require a wildly chaotic universe, yet the observed universe responds to rules that human beings are just beginning to observe, and attempt to understand.
-- The sole bit of empirical evidence that can "prove" the existence of God is a personal relationship with Him. There is a large compendium of observations and anecdotal evidence (Lourdes, Fatima, etc.) such as "miracles" and the response to prayer that others observe from without. While skeptics may try to deride such evidence as mere coincidence, results beyond a certain point render "coincidence" unsustainable.
-- Anti-semitism is a "proof" of the existence of God. The Jews are supposed to be the "Chosen" of God. For far longer than 6000 years, Jews have been the most prosperous people in the world (and the most persecuted), no matter what hands are raised against them or circumstances they're forced to endure. They prosper no matter where they are, or the circumstances. Others, not necessarily groups but individuals who believe in the same God, and follow the same rules of living, also prosper. These prosperous people are hated and despised by others BECAUSE others perceive that God indeed does "play favorites", especially with the Jews. There IS a disparity between the lives of non-believers and believers.
5. Once the theory and the data are in agreement, publish your findings and the data (facts) the theory is based upon for others to study.
-- Have at it.
One final observation - perhaps Prof. Horner is angry because psychologists aren't considered "real scientists". It's a thought.