More Rats in RATE: Putting Biblical Dogmatism and the Expectations
of Sponsors Above Legitimate Science
Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.
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Wise scientists are very careful about where they obtain their research funds. For example, a lung cancer researcher would probably be wary about accepting money from a tobacco company. Ethical scientists also submit honest and realistic proposals to fit the guidelines of the RFP (request for proposals) from a potential sponsor. If the proposal is funded, ethical scientists honestly perform the research and publish whatever results they obtain, whether the results are encouraging, discouraging or a mixture of both.
Research sponsors certainly hope that their clients' projects will succeed. However, ethical sponsors recognize that their clients' best research efforts might fail to achieve the anticipated results. Nevertheless, as long as the clients make an honest effort, perform the best possible research and publish whatever results they obtain, ethical sponsors should be satisfied. Furthermore, even if anticipated results are not achieved and EVERY proposed hypothesis fails, wise scientists can usually derive and publish valuable lessons from the research.
Scientists should certainly recognize the importance of publishing any disappointing results to avoid the 'File Drawer Problem' (Harcum, 1990, p. 339; Rosenthal, 1979). This problem occurs when scientists put their negative results in a file drawer rather than publishing them. Unless failures are published so that other researchers know about them (including any spurious radiometric dates), other researchers may waste precious time and money repeating the study and rediscovering the failures.
Because radiometric dating utterly refutes their biblical interpretations, the young-Earth creationists (YECs) of the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) committee are desperate to undermine the reliability of radiometric dating. Unlike most scientists, the members of RATE have a serious, potentially stressful dilemma. Namely, they must make sure that NONE of their 'research results' offend their sponsors or other members of their faith. While scientists look forward to new breakthroughs and shredding popular paradigms (which may lead to a Nobel Prize), YECs face the frightening possibility that any honest and carefully performed research may fail to support, and perhaps even undermine, their sacred biblical interpretations. YEC Vardiman (2000, p. 24) openly admits:
'Failure to achieve success on this problem [i.e., age of the Earth] might bring embarrassment to the creationist cause and delay the development of a new generation of young Christians.'
Clearly, YECs cannot allow any of their 'research results' to challenge their biblical interpretations or offend the religious views of their fundamentalist sponsors and other allies. In contrast, no authentic scientist would ever promise not to produce results that might offend their sponsors or other members of the public. Ethical scientists would decline funding in such situations. Also, no legitimate scientist would ever allow the Bible, Koran, the Secular Humanist Manifesto, party platforms, or any other political or religious doctrines to dictate the results of their research. However, this is exactly what the members of RATE are doing. Like the Lysenkoists of the old Soviet Union, YECs have signed a pact not to offend the party line (see Rats in RATE's 'Research'. The candid statements in Vardiman (2000) clearly demonstrate the profound differences between real science and YEC pseudoscience.
Rather than seeking 'The One True Answer', scientists are encouraged to use multiple working hypotheses in their research (See 'Science, Unlike YEC Dogma, Corrects Itself' in Ancient Ice Ages AND Submarine Landslides, but NOT Noah's Flood). In contrast to legitimate science, YECs clearly don't want natural multiple hypotheses if the hypotheses challenge their highly prized biblical interpretations. That is, the YECs are placing all of their bets on their bible interpretations being correct. Therefore, if their 'research' fails to support their dogma, the YECs are only left with their imaginations to derive untenable miracles to prop up their hopeless claims and 'protect' the souls of the YEC faithful. While authentic scientists would rather say 'I don't know' than invoke miracles to salvage indefensible ideas, Vardiman (2000, p. 5) and Humphreys (2000, p. 367) readily admit that they are more than willing to use miracles to 'solve' the 'age of the Earth problem' (see It'll Take a Miracle to Save their 'Science'). The behavior of YECs is truly a tragic testimony to the dogmatism and imprisoned thinking of pseudoscience.
Harcum, E.R., 1990, 'Guidance from the Literature for Accepting a Null Hypothesis When its Truth is Expected,' The Journal of General Psychology, v. 117, n. 3, p. 325-344.
Humphreys, D.R., 2000, 'Accelerated Nuclear Decay: A Viable Hypothesis?' in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, L.Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F. Chaffin (eds.), Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, Mo, p. 333-379.
Rosenthal, R., 1979, 'The "File Drawer Problem" and Tolerance for Null Results,' Psychological Bulletin, v. 86, p. 638-641.
Vardiman, L., 2000, 'Introduction,' in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F. Chaffin (eds.), Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, Mo.