ScienceDaily, a website that often carries news headlines and just about any press release anyone sends them, has topped themselves today with a blurb suggesting that same sex civil unions are a “600 year old tradition.” We know that homosexuality has been around at least since Exodus was first related, and murder and lying are even older. That doesn’t make them “traditions” or ScienceDaily a legitimate scientific source.
But it is a good excuse to review what is and what is not “science.”
Science is the practice of observing, collecting and *processing* information about the natural world. Valid scientific subjects are subject to formal testing by experimentation based on a hypothesis and formal manipulation of conditions, with as few variables as possible. The “gold standard” for scientific evidence is that such experiments can be reproduced by other observers, in other labs, with the same results.
I haven’t pulled out the Yellow Brick Award in months, but this wins that dubious honor. Scientists do not hide behind curtains, depend on smoke and mirrors and false images to fool the public, earn grant money, or make headlines. We don’t rely on personalities or even tradition. Neither should a legitimate science news service loan their name and webspace to a cheap publicity stunt, no matter how much the editors wish to shock or engage in social experimentation. The American College of Pediatricians calls this sort of political activism “social eugenics.” I call it an evolutionary dead end (at least for that website and its editors’ credibility).
It certainly isn’t science.