Sunday, March 2, 2014

Salem Hypothesis

I think the following actually says something about the academic profession.  Blogger "Do While" Jones (who is, I think, a creationist in addition to embracing ID theory) comments on the Salem hypothesis and on the claims of engineers to have science credentials:
ALL my friends with Ph.D. degrees who are college professors believe in evolution. NONE of my friends with Ph.D. degrees who work in the defense industry believe in evolution. When I mentioned this in a private email to an evolutionist, he replied:
This is known in the newsgroup as the Salem hypothesis, namely the observation that creationists who claim to have academic credentials generally turn out to be engineers rather than scientists. There are a number of theories to explain this tendency, of which yours is one. One could also argue that engineers are more inclined to accept black-and-white rule-based explanations whereas scientists are more likely to think abstractly about the underlying mechanisms. Whatever the reason, it is an interesting trend. [emphasis supplied [by Jones]]
Notice that if one is an engineer, he only “claim[s] to have academic credentials,” and isn’t really a scientist, in the words of that evolutionist. In response to his next-to-last sentence, one could argue that engineers are more inclined to accept only actual experimental results, whereas scientists are more likely to accept fanciful theories (if told skillfully enough). [emphasis by TQ]
If you doubt that scientists would regularly and uncritically imbibe fanciful explanations and speculations please read (a) Feynman's speech on "Cargo Cult Science",  (b) Gould and Eldridge's essay on "The Spandrels of San Marco", (c) Jerry Fodor's "Why Pigs Don't Have Wings", and (d) Jerry Coyne's "Of Vice and Men", just for starters.

There's some conflation of credential and career... Yes, the academic industry, the theoretical research industry, and the even experimental research industry can be significantly different from engineering disciplines.  But that doesn't mean they are less susceptible to credulity.

“This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them.”