Phillip Johnson on trial
Phillip Johnson on trial -
The difference between scientific and legal methodsHow can scientists ignore books such as Darwin on Trial and Icons of Evolution? Scientists understand this implicitly,
To begin with, in a trial the prosecution holds one prejudice and the defense holds another. This motivates prosecution and defense to present misleading or even false evidence. Scientists begin with open minds, examine only scientific evidence and ultimately draw conclusions.
Secondly a trial jury is selected from the general public. In science the scientific establishment (particularly the appropriate specialty) is the jury. Emotions and prejudices influence the public. Scientists are trained to stifle prejudice and avoid emotions. Scientists who are swayed by emotion are criticized, often harshly, by peers.
In a trial one side presents its complete case and then the other. In a science evidence is considered point by point. The failure of an important piece of evidence can halt the whole process.
When a jury reaches a decision, only a lengthy legal process can undo the conclusion. Political power can influence decisions. The whole scientific community considers scientific conclusions. A subset of the community ruthlessly criticizes the conclusion. If the conclusion is wanting no group is powerful enough to salvage it. Usually a scientific conclusion suggests useful approaches to related problems. The success or failure of these suggestions determines the ultimate fate of the conclusion.
A rejected scientific idea can be resurrected if it makes new, successful predictions.
Evolution as a concept has passed many tests and still makes useful predictions. It can be displaced only by another concept which makes better and more fruitful predictions. Evidence for the "falsity of evolution" (e.g Icons of Evolution) is as useful as evidence for a flat Earth. See Carpenter's 100 Proofs the Earth is not a Globe