Friday, September 5, 2008

That Darned Liberal Bias of Reality

Over at Uncommon Descent, we see a classic example of the common flawed reasoning behind many accusations of bias. Whether it is Intelligent Design or neoconservative politics, the logical flaw is the same: assuming the intellectual legitimacy of ideas without demonstrating them.

Intelligent Design advocates do this constantly with their charges of an unfair bias against them. They assume the legitimacy of their position, and dismiss arbitrarily the possibility that ID and its advocates are reviled in the scientific community simply because the scientists have found ID wanting. Conspiracy is the only option they'll consider.

The same goes for politics. Conservatives can't seem to consider the notion that many of their ideas are dismissed because, as Stephen Colbert so eloquently put it, "reality has a liberal bias". Thus, places like scienceblogs get accused of being politically biased:

"Science is just a cover at to give it an air of legitimacy. It was never really about science. It’s all about promoting leftwing politics.

Don’t believe me? I challenge you to show me a single website that supports anything on the conservative side of the political spectrum."

See the implicit and unjustified assumption? It's not possible all those nutty conservative theories are rejected on their merits, no, no, no, no. There must be some sort of bias. Thus, the near uniform rejection of conservative ideas by those most qualified to judge them is prima facie evidence that they are biased. It is a tight little circle, completely insulating true believers from criticism, from evidence, from reality. The more evidence that mounts up against them, the greater the conspiracy is. Of course, the damning question they can't answer is why there aren't any conservative equivalents of Scienceblogs. Where are all the conservative scientists? Pretty rare are they? Now why do you suppose that is. The answer is obvious, but one has to be willing to deal honestly with the evidence.

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