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Normal Scientific Procedure Vs. This Forum's Discussion

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Posted by M.W.Pearson on October 12, 2002 00:22:07 UTC

Sam, home-schooled 18-year-old, posts links
to a Creationist page witha paper disputing the
potassium-argon dating.
Anything wrong with that? I don't think so.
He did before and I asked him a question about it.
He didn't answer. I'd post the link but it's been six weeks.

Normal scientific procedure
1) Let's say Sam has an abiding interest in
whether potassium-argon dating is true. He's
not just spouting off or trying to fool a crowd of
are trying to decide who to trust.

2) Sam finds two points of view. One says potassium-argon dating works reliably. There are a couple of papers disputing it, but for some reason, thousands of career geologists and nuclear technicians have accepted it.

3) What is the best way to resolve this apparent
disagreement? Sam decides that science is not
really established by sheer popularity of an idea, but by what is ACTUALLY the behavior of the materials in question.

4) What is the next step? Please choose one.
A) Sam decides the two creationist papers are correct because they support the Bible's Genesis story (although I, Mike, cannot really see how).
B) Sam decides mainstream science is correct because he doesn't really know much about the topoic himself. He has not taken courses in nuclear science and worked in a testing lab. He has not visited a testing lab and questioned the technicians. He has not even written a summary of the two opposing points of view to find the smoking gun -- where one or the other side MUST be found out as deceptive or sloppy.
c) Sam decides he does not know who is right. It is strange not to know. He investigates the history, philosophy and methods of science in depth for the first time in his life. One day, he finds he is, himself, qualified to discuss the matter competently with any scientist and explain to the public, with firm grounding in science, how the disagreement came into being.

Sam, Is it A, B, or C?
If not C, then you can't keep coming back with that one point, in my opinion. Don't you think it would be more proper to arrange a public debate between competent scientists holding opposite views and let the radio-geological scientific community give its verdict,
than for you, without any qualifications whatsoever, to argue the point?

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