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When Science Turns Mushy

David Klinghoffer


John West and Jonathan Wells were in Hollywood for a Q&A following a performance of the play Disinherit the Wind. They were joined by playwright Matt Chait. An audience member, introducing himself as an accountant, made a very, shall we say, accountant-like observation.

The discussion that follows, the subject of a new ID the Future podcast, is illuminating. Listen to it here.

Someone who keeps track of other people’s accounts must maintain a sober objectivity and pay strict attention to the bottom line. There can be no fudging, otherwise bad things can happen like going to jail. This particular accountant is a science reader and science consumer. He’s noticed that most of what you read about science is very straight and factual. In other areas, though, a mushy, speculative quality prevails. Any discussion of consciousness, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the explosion of something from nothing in the Big Bang – all these topics have scientists switching from fact to what the accountant calls “faith.” On these subjects, scientists, unlike accountants, face no sanctions for playing games. (See our post yesterday, “Cheaters Never Prosper? Sure They Do in Origin-of-Life Papers.”)

Jonathan Wells, author of Zombie Science, suggests someone should come up with an index for measuring mush in science research papers. It could be modeled, he says, on the Flesch-Kinkaid scale. That’s an online tool that helps writers gauge the age range that their writing is best suited for, so that they can pitch their prose to the lowest reading level possible.

Isn’t it interesting that these subjects that the accountant mentions, consciousness and the rest, are all areas that touch on ultimate questions? They’re ultimate because they define us as human beings, in that they all touch on matters of origins: the origin of the universe, of life, or animal life, or human life.

And they all bring forth mush from materialist scientists. Why would that be? Maybe because they’re not susceptible to material explanations, but call instead for a frank consideration of design and teleology. Just a thought.

Photo: A serving of mush, by MOs810 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.