February 4th, 2014 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: News, Science

Four Things the Anti-Science Crowd Denies

Bill Nye the Science Guy to “debate” Creation Museum founder Ken Ham

nye vs ham

Bill Nye the Science Guy and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham will engage in a so-called “debate” tonight over evolution and biblical creationism, even though the scientific evidence rules out any possibility of Nye losing on the facts of evolution.

Although the scientific evidence is clear, evolution remains a contentious conflict in the United States as religious fundamentalists struggle to reconcile their literal interpretations of religious texts with scientific facts.

The conflict between science and religion is nothing new. In the late 19th century, John William Draper, an American scientist and historian, brought the conflict to the mainstream with his book, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science.

Since then, the conflict has actually expanded to include anti-science pushback from political and business interests over a wide range of issues. Here are four leading examples of today’s conflicts as they pit science against everyone else:


Evolution is essentially the foundation of modern biology. It’s overwhelmingly supported by modern scientists. Evidence ranges from centuries of scientific observations to similarities in life’s genetic and physiological makeup to fossilized records.

“At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time,” notes UC Berkeley’s evolution explainer. “Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.”

In the scientific world, it’s silly to dispute the entire concept of evolution. Some, like Nye, question how the world can even make sense to someone without evolution.

“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution,” Nye told Big Think.

Expect more arguments along those lines at Tuesday’s “debate,” which will be streamed live here.

Global warming

Scientists widely agree global warming is occurring and man-made. In the latest report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.

To understand global warming, it’s crucial to first differentiate weather and climate. Weather forecasts look at short-term trends in specific areas, like the current local temperature and whether stuff is falling out of the sky in Cincinnati. Climate science looks at huge, long-term trends that span the globe, such as global temperature trends over decades.

When climate science is viewed through the correct scientific lens, the results become practically impossible to reasonably question:

Vaccine safety

The anti-vaccine movement claims vaccines can lead to extreme complications like autism, asthma or diabetes, but the argument is backed by no notable scientific evidence.

In its broad analysis of vaccines and their adverse effects, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found “few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.” Specifically, the study ruled out connections between vaccines and autism, asthma and diabetes.

That’s not to say vaccines are without side-effects. In some occasions, IOM found vaccines can cause allergic reactions, seizures and fainting. But the data did not indicate serious, widespread problems.

Fortunately, both liberals and conservatives mostly reject the idea that vaccines are dangerous. That’s good news for everyone’s health. If most people doubted the science, the fears could diminish the herd effect that’s so important for preventing and combating epidemics.

Safety of genetically modified foods

Despite the sweeping scientific consensus that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe, detractors continue rallying against any genetic manipulation in foods.

Major scientific groups have extensively studied GMOs during the decades the technology has been available. The consensus, from groups including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and the Royal Society of Medicine, was clear: Genetically modified foods aren’t any more harmful than conventional foods.

Even in the extremely anti-GMO Europe, an independent European Commission report found, “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”

An even larger study from Italian scientists reached similar conclusions.

In its defense, the anti-GMO movement typically points to a study that initially claimed to find evidence of tumors in rats that consumed genetically modified foods. But the scientific journal that published the study, Food and Chemical Toxicology, actually retracted the findings after deciding they were “inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication.”

Given the lack of evidence, it’s easy to understand why scientific organizations around the world seem so aligned against the anti-GMO movement:

02.04.2014 at 01:30 Reply

Wow way to stay unbiased!!! This will most likely be the last article I read from City beats if they allow this heavily biased writting.

Very Shameful. 


02.04.2014 at 02:19

i think someone is mad over truth.

typical creationist.


02.04.2014 at 02:34

Care to state your reason for thinking this is ... biased? (to say the least)


02.04.2014 at 02:52

The truth is biased?  Only to a k00k.


02.04.2014 at 02:56
...scientific facts are a biased opinion? Tell me, what field is your science degree in?


02.04.2014 at 05:46

Having worked as a scientist in the field of microbiology, you're making an erroneous statement about GMOs. Saying "GMOs are safe" is an all-inclusive statement, like saying that "all spiders are safe." In truth, some can be quite dangerous. I think the valid concern here is that neither big ag nor the FDA seem to have interest in really looking closely into which is which before unleashing them into the marketplace. 


02.04.2014 at 05:55

I agree with SP. Biased writing indeed.

Because whatever organization is funding a study clearly has no investment in the outcome, I'll keep my eggs in the science basket. I also feel good that FDA officials are former Monsanto bigwigs. Again, no conflict of interest so any studies seem totally legit.  


02.05.2014 at 02:08

Once again a giant push for GMO's and once again no thank you. I don not want Man messing around with creation. Vaccines wtf? another attempt of rich men messing around with creation for money in thier pocket, no thanks. I will continue to think for myself on a higher form of education of my choice. I do not want your new gimmicks or the new value burger. I choose not to have these things as long as I have a choice. Science is Mans' study of Creation


02.04.2014 at 02:10 Reply

Religion and science DO go hand-in-hand, as God created science; most liberal Christians recognize this. What the non-faith/science-as-a-god crowd does not recognize is that science itself is frequently incorrect and changes ("evolves"?) as people make new instruments of measurement or understand things in a different light. I do not believe in evolution across species but certainly recognize evolution WITHIN species as the needs of the organism, or the environment it lives in, change. The Gap Theory neatly reconciles the explanation of dinosaurs vs. modern human beings. As far as GMOs, I would much rather be able to have a label on what I'm eating and CHOOSE to include or exclude mouse, fish, or other DNA from my vegetables, instead of Monsanto telling everyone nothing bad will happen. The creations may appear to be 'safe' now, but with viruses that have a history of leaping from one species to another, I do not want to give my immune system any opportunity to give mishandled DNA a backstage pass to infect, degrade, or camoflage within my cells because my consumption of Frankenfoods desensitized them from something wrong.

The main difference between science and theology is science is the measure of five-senses things that can be tangibly measured with tools; theology is the study of He Who cannot be measured. Science studies the body; theology studies the spirit. You cannot measure tire pressure with a Bible any more than you can measure spirit with a graduated cylinder. But, one can acknowledge and embrace both - and many of us liberal Christians do just that.


02.04.2014 at 05:58

The global warming example is definitely biased--because in the argument before the graph showing the results---it states that we should look at "huge long term trends that span the globe" but the graph representing this massive misrepresentation only covers 4 decades thats 40 years for you liberals. But weather patterns have existed on the planet for 3-4 billion years? How could 40 years be a huge amount of anything when the total is 3-4 billion? That graph is completely biased.


02.04.2014 at 02:23 Reply

Also regarding GMOs - this article utterly ignores the other studies and real-life observations done on farm animals who experienced increased inflammation, miscarriages and agitation after being fed GMO feeds - here http://grist.org/food/look-whos-squealing-now-gmo-lovers-freak-over-new-study-of-sick-pigs/ and in "Genetic Roulette, the Gamble of our Lives" http://www.care2.com/greenliving/gmos-make-cows-pigs-sick-what-about-humans.html . Whatever side of the GMO argument one is on, I have to agree with SP - this article is either very biased or poorly researched (although I intend to keep reading CityBeat).


02.04.2014 at 02:56

When speaking about a scientific consensus, it's much more fitting to go with meta-analyses (studies of studies) than one study. There's always going to be an outlier study, so the meta-analyses help establish a more widespread conclusion.

But I agree that research is definitely worth following up on, especially since some critics raised legitimate questions about their methodologies. If those criticisms prove wrong, the scientific consensus could eventually change. Right now, it's not there.


02.04.2014 at 05:19

@Jane: I have to tell you, this is extremely insightful and rather dipolatic.  Something that should help appease both ends of the spectrum which is sad in that this "debate" tries to make this a series of dynamic opposites which it isn't, necessarily.  

Like the flawed political body of late, polarizing the contituency into a Dem or GOP-only mentality is foolish & forbids a great deal of potential growth that occurs inbetween...just like stipulating a ALL science OR ALL religion bearing.  

Even scientific pattern recognition would venture, "There's always a bigger fish," as well as religion mentioning Gift and Dominion as its complimenting yin to the yang.  But no, we are only hearing stupid ppl the the privledge of a film crew and media outlet screaming it's 'x' or 'y' only.


02.04.2014 at 02:47 Reply

The in-your-face slant to this article makes it difficult to take seriously.  It has a seemingly satirical tone that completely eclipses the content.

And I was just trying to find out how I can see my man Bill tonight...


02.04.2014 at 02:58 Reply

@SP: Thanks for providing examples of bias in the article - it shows you're unable to think outside your prescribed box. Try the scientific method sometime.