A few days ago, I posted about the wonderful folks at the Institute for Creation Research and their decision to start up a peer-reviewed journal, the International Journal of Creation Research to publish papers all about "Creation Science."
Now for all of you who, like me, have some really strong opinions on the fundamentalist project to re-enshrine conformity to faith as the predominant principle of science, it should be pretty obvious what the creationists are trying to do here, because, as we all know, peer review is an important part of the dissemination of real science. As Wikipedia says (today, anyway), peer review:
...is a process of subjecting an author's scholarly work or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the field. It is used primarily by editors to select and to screen submitted manuscripts, and by funding agencies, to decide the awarding of grants. The peer review process aims to make authors meet the standards of their discipline, and of science in general. Publications and awards that have not undergone peer review are likely to be regarded with suspicion by scholars and professionals in many fields.It's that last sentence that tells you what's behind all this. No credible peer-reviewed scientific journal would ever print the kind of crap these folks write. But if they print their own "peer-reviewed" journal, then they can argue that their "research" has indeed passed the scrutiny of their peers in the sciences - the creation sciences, that is, but who's reading the fine print? And while anyone who knows anything about the scientific fields they are violating would still know it's not science, what about the person who doesn't know a lot about it?
More importantly, I suspect, what about government organisations (particularly in the US) that might have a requirement that the science they use in developing policy has passed a peer review - without any specification of how that peer review is conducted?
So this is a call to all those fannish satirists out there. Let's create our own organisation for fake science.
Because what we really have, with these creationists and their Institute for Creation Science and its proposed peer-reviewed journal, is a group of people saying that there is a book - a text, if you will - and everything in it is true, and happens exactly the way it says so in that book. So the job of science is not to uncover the mechanics of how the world really functions, but to explain how the functions specified in the book happened in a manner consistent with what is written in that book, and how they can be reconciled with any observable evidence to the contrary in the real world.
You don't have to take my word for that, by the way - they state clearly on their own website that they have, in their teaching and their research, "a firm commitment to creationism and to full Biblical inerrancy and authority." Here's some selections from the Institute for Creation Research's "research tenets" about what they think science is and how it is to be conducted (all emphases mine):
The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School has a unique statement of faith for its faculty and students, incorporating most of the basic Christian doctrines in a creationist framework, organized in terms of two parallel sets of tenets, related to God's created world and God's inspired Word, respectively.
ICR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY
The programs and curricula of the Graduate School, as well as the activities of other ICR divisions, while similar in factual content to those of other graduate colleges, are distinctive in one major respect. The Institute for Creation Research bases its educational philosophy on the foundational truth of a personal Creator-God and His authoritative and unique revelation of truth in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
More explicitly, the administration and faculty of ICR are committed to the tenets of both scientific creationism and Biblical creationism as formulated below. A clear distinction is drawn between scientific creationism and Biblical creationism but it is the position of the Institute that the two are compatible and that all genuine facts of science support the Bible.
So what can anyone do about this, which I suspect is an attempt to make it possible for religion all wrapped up in the Trojan Horse of peer review to invade American public policy even more fully than it has already done?
Well, I can sure as hell make savage fun of it.
After all, I could publish the same kind of science myself. Science that has a firm commitment to the inerrancy and authority of any fictional text (including visual texts such as graphic novels, film and television) one might choose to substitute for the one that they've singled out as the only definition of how things work.
For example, let's assume that J. K Rowling's works are inerrant and authoritative texts that define the way the world actually functions. What kind of science would one have to create in order to explain how any part of the system of magic in that text works, despite all indications from the observable world that it does not? Star Trek geeks will of course have a head start on this, as we've been thinking about how to explain warp drive, teleporters and at least a dozen different methods of time travel for decades now. ;-)
Just imagine - an International Institute of Created Science that would publish an online peer-reviewed journal - the International Journal of Created Science Research Studies.
Any fictional texts you like could be declared as inerrant and authoritative for the purposes of creating the science that can be used to prove that what the text says about the mechanics of existence is the truth, even if every observable bit of evidence and every known scientific fact says it's not. All papers demonstrating the truth of any chosen inerrant and authoritative text would be peer reviewed. That's how real science operates, right?
Arrrrggggghhhhh. The crazy, it burns.