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Could Scientific American's "Skeptic" Be Wrong? - RF Cafe Forums

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Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject: Could Scientific American's "Skeptic" Be Wrong?
Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:23 pm 
 
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
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Scientific American has lots of good articles, and I have read through just about every edition for the last 20-some years (not every article, of course). Most of the columnists I enjoy reading, especially Steve Mirsky, writer of the "Antigravity" column. His humor is always sure to make me chuckle.

On the other hand, Michael Shermer, writer of the "Skeptic" column, is always pretentious and insulting with his writings. Somehow, he manages to assail Creationists in almost every article, regardless of what the topic happens to be. Regardless of your opinion on Creationism vs. Evolution, having to read the vile hatred begin spewed each month gets tiresome. The columns could be very interesting otherwise. He always sets himself up as above reproach on every issue. Well, I might have found a chink in his armor in the November 2006 issue.

In the article, he addresses the record of some scientists being "wronger than wrong" throughout history, and correctly points out that as time goes on, the wrongness of those people become more and more apparent. He quotes Asimov as writing, "When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people though the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you that thinking the earth is round is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than wrong." In fact, the earth is an oblate spheroid, which is much closer to a sphere than it is to a plane.

Where Mr. Shermer errs, in my observation, is when he writes, "Scientists' wrongness attenuates with time." I believe that in the context of the article he intends exactly the opposite of attenuation: amplification. Indeed, wrongness is amplified with time as more knowledge is gained.

Here's a link to the article in case you're interested.

http://sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00028C98-6F5C-152E-A9F183414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2

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