Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Science =/= Politics

While browsing online, I found this abominable quote:

Finally, while Dr. Lepper says he isn’t opposed to scientists advancing provocative ideas, he wishes the researchers and Nature had considered the political implications of publishing the mastodon study.

>No, you absolutely should not allow politics to influence the line of scientific inquiry, publication, or debate. That is not science. When you add things like politics or money to science, it stops being science -- and in fact that drop in reliability undermines the reputation of actual science.

Theories get disrupted. That's the nature of the field. Don't get too attached to them. You never know when a new find will turn one ass over teakettle. And if you badger people to crop their data, you really won't know when one is wrong.

With archaeology, it's especially vital to keep an open mind, because you NEVER have all the pieces and usually lack crucial context. You put together the best ideas you can from the pieces you have, and always keep looking for more pieces. The stories you tell can give you an idea of what pieces to look for. To check the compression hypothesis, simply examine the local geology. The river crushing hypothesis seems unlikely given the description of the land. The hominid hypothesis is promising, so cast around in the area for other evidence, because good hunting places were often revisited and the possibility of more artifacts seems worth investigating.

For fucksake, people, publish the facts. Discuss possible explanations. Try to imagine what you would need in order to distinguish among those possibilities. Then look for further details to prove or disprove each explanation. When you have removed the impossible, whatever remains -- no matter how improbable -- must be the case.

If you want sacred cows, practice religion, not science.

And then there's bit of baloney:

“Otherwise, you are stirring a pot that includes a lot of unsavory ingredients — including racist notions that white people were here first and were displaced by the American Indian newcomers.”

1) Anyone prior to the European invaders was, by definition, Native American. There were many different peoples over time. Those surviving at the time of the invasion had some variety, and archaeologists have debated whether or not they all came from the same source or not (e.g. some may have crossed the Bering land bridge and others may have boated in).

2) Since we know exactly zilch about who might have smashed up a mammoth at that time, we also know jack about their skin color. It could have been anything. Hell, it could be something we don't even have anymore. Assuming it to have been white in the absence of any evidence is ridiculous.

3) Letting someone else's idiotic bickerments about race influence scientific publication is a recipe for disaster. Remember all the embarrassing examples where science got seduced into backing up racism, that turned out to be bunk? Just don't.

I should not have to be explaining this to grown-ass adults who are allegedly professionals in their field.
Tags: ethnic studies, history, networking, science

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