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How to Generate a Controversial Blog Entry

November 12, 2009

Maybe I’m looking in my rose-tinted mirror again, but “How to Generate Scientific Controversy” is a nice concise version of something I’ve already said (or perhaps more importantly, something Karl Popper already said).

1. Pick something that is regarded as true by the vast majority of scientists in the field and claim that it causes something bad.

2. Demand that scientists prove a negative by showing that the good thing doesn’t actually have bad results.

3. When people point out that the facts don’t back up your claim, ignore them. As those people get angry and shouty at you, smugly say, “They’re persecuting me! They’re so closed-minded that they won’t let anyone ask questions!” Bonus points for saying that science is now a religion.

4. If more patient scientists perform studies that undermine your claim, or if you manage to get the government to modify the good thing to fix what you were complaining about, move the goalposts!

Of course, I had extended the scope of this approach to political controversies as well.  Then again, by such definition, aren’t all “controversies” inherently political?

If you were waiting for this blog entry to get contentious and inflammatory, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.  Oh wait!

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