So Eduardo Porter wrote an article, in which he dabbled in Compulsive Centrist Disorder, arguing Dirty Fucking Hippies are wrong to oppose nuclear power. For the record, I think coal and natural gas plants should be decommissioned well before nuclear power plants are and that we should be investing in and developing thorium–based or pebble bed reactors, which are much, much safer (cuz physics ‘n shit). That said, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned our current nuclear plants (got Fukushima?).
But here’s the thing–if you’re going to write about ‘anti-science’ attitudes, you can’t fire off howlers like this:
Joel Mokyr at Northwestern University, an expert on the history of science and technology, notes that the ease with which people accept scientific knowledge depends on how straightforward the proof is.
Einstein’s theory of relativity was readily accepted despite the fact that few people understood it because there were a couple of experimental results no other theory could explain. Natural selection is trickier.
“It is awfully hard to find a smoking gun” to prove evolution, Professor Mokyr told me. “This is by definition because the process is so slow.”
Ugh. First of all, we see evolution in action all the time. Antibiotic resistance comes to mind. Melanism as well. Second, evidence for natural selection abounds. This is easy to show (see point #1). Third, the opposition to natural selection (which really isn’t the theologically challenging part) is routed, not in evidentiary problems (I’m guessing most people don’t understand relativity either), but because of its philosophical and theological implications.
Are there no editors at the Times who actually edit?