To protect the integrity of science as a respected discipline, I propose that we eliminate the usage of speculative terminology. Respected scientific reporting agencies, school textbooks, and even many journal articles are rife with wordings such as “probably”, “could have”, “might have”, etc. To respect science as a worthwhile means of attaining truth, we need to also recognize its limits. Science should be contained to thing we can observe, test, and repeat.
This problem comes into play mostly with sciences that deal with historical issues outside of our direct observation. For example, this article( http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120404-yutyrannus-feathers-dinosaur-science-nature-biggest/) from National Geographic reporting on one-ton feathered dinosaurs uses sixteen speculative wordings throughout its fairly short report. It is understandable that when direct observation is lacking, interpretation will become more prominent. I believe this phenomenon has gotten out of control and put a sizeable detriment to science in general. When science steps outside of observation in favor of interpretation, it has now welcomed bias, speculation, and fraud into the scientific method.
This article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/nov/02/scientific-fraud-good-science?CMP=twt_fd) from The Guardian reports that “Scientific fraud is rife”. The article cites the journal Nature as reporting that the number of retraction rates has overtaken the amount of papers being published. It is good for us to correct ourselves when shown wrong, but it is becoming increasingly damaging to the integrity of the discipline if these rates continue to increase.
Creationists have long-argued that historical sciences are more prone to interpretive bias due to the lack of direct observation. Could it be possible that with our need to explain everything with or without evidence, that we’ve created a version of religion? In2000 a debate was held between Dr. James Paulson, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Dr. Kent Hovind, a popular young-earth creationist defender and is available online here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ7bfNlfJ0M). At the 1hr.17min. timestamp, Dr. Paulson attempts to answer an audience question about the intelligent design argument of symbiotic relationships (example – the bee needs the flower and the flower needs the bee so how could they have evolved), and Dr. Hovind thoroughly destroys his answer by pointing out that all he did was speculate possibilities with absolutely no actual evidence. Is this what science has come to? It must have occurred, therefore this is how it “could have”? If you step back and think about it, that sounds a lot like many creationist arguments!
Personally I am a creationist because I do not believe the evidence is anywhere near convincing on the matter. I believe if we removed all speculative and interpretive articles from the scientific record and got back to strictly observation and testable models, then there would be no actual evidence for many historical theories and hypotheses. I believe we have built model upon model without ever verifying the previous model, and historical science has simply become a school of confirmation bias. It has come down to “where does this new evidence fit into the current model” instead of “what does this new evidence tell us”. That’s a very dangerous place to be in. This is shown in action inthis post (https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/which-part-is-real-science-and-which-is-imagination/) titled “Which part is real science and which is imagination”.
The next time you read scientific reports or news articles do yourself a favor and eliminate all speculative statements and see what you are left with before you buy it. Science is run by humans, and humans are fallible. The evidence of retractions proves that peer review does not work as it should. The scientific method has been hijacked by guesswork and has converted a multitude of science into nothing more than philosophy, or some might say – religion.