There’s no such thing as settled science

I have been an avid reader during most of my 73 years, mainly to determine the truth both locally as well as nationally and internationally. Since I was born and raised three miles from the Marshall County courthouse, I have included the Times-Republican in my daily reading since day one. I have always appreciated ‘lively debates,’ since new information is usually revealed from various viewpoints.

This last Sunday’s full front page section C, Our View, Dec. 16, 2018, completely ignited my reflex action of fairness and truthfulness and caused me to remember the definition of Solomon’s wisdom, “The ability to discern truth from error.” I was very disappointed to read such false assumptions and leaps of faith, especially since I spent much of my 40 years in trying to teach public high school science students not to assume such leaps, but to be daily healthy skeptics instead. Natural science research relies on continual questioning, resulting often in “what was ‘settled truth’ yesterday becomes today’s big question” due to new revealed truth.

Albert Einstein often lamented that many of his most notable science revelations and truths were met with harsh criticism, but some of it was very healthy skepticism and questioning. Over several decades, to improve my science teaching credentials, I went back to conduct graduate science research at all of Iowa’s three state universities. I had more than one university professor express their concern for ‘pressure being applied’ to arrange for ‘pre-planned results’ if they had a federal grant approved for research. Michael Crichton, a well-known science writer, has expressed similar findings as I did, and even worse.

The top paragraph of the third column of your piece is an example of being extremely misguided and unfair, using shaming to support a false assumption. Before we ‘put our foot down’ and telling them ‘enough is enough’ we must first ‘arm ourselves’ with the truth before ‘we act.’ There is an old saying that says, “He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” We need to recognize the importance of continued civil discourse which never ends.

I will end with a quote from Ian Plimer, a credible science writer who asks, “How many examples of failed predictions, discredited assumptions, evidence of incorrect data and evidence of malpractice are required before the idea of human-induced climate change loses credibility?”