My Facebook news recently included a reference to the appointment of CSIRO’s next manager who replaces the incumbent Dr. Megan Clarke next year, one Dr. Larry Marshall but there is a slight problem – Dr. Marshall, according to the scientesists at the Melbourne Sceptics, appears to believe in water divining –
He’d like to see the development of technology that would make it easier for farmers to dowse or divine for water on their properties.“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy and I’ve no idea how they do it,” he said.“When I see that as a scientist, it makes me question, ‘is there instrumentality that we could create that would enable a machine to find that water?’“I’ve always wondered whether there’s something in the electromagentic field, or gravitation anomaly.”Dr Marshall believes the CSIRO can ‘push the envelope’ with such projects and contribute to improving agricultural productivity.
I made the mistake of mentioning I can water divine in a recent AIG News and the hostile reaction I got from some peers isn’t all that different to the criticism the Melbourne Sceptics lamented over Dr. Marshall’s appointment –
Really? Shouldn’t we reserve funding for technologies whose claimed phenomenon can pass a simple blinded controlled objective study, rather than assuming Larry Marshall has seen it and he can’t be fooled? (The Victorian Skeptics has a guide to dowsing among other educational materials.)In an age when all of climate science shows that we are in for, among other catastrophic results, devastating drought unless we act now to reverse our damaging activities, Australia’s leading government science body will spend its precious attention on pseudoscience and fakery.We are under the rule of one of the worst governments in Australian history, in terms of the scientific soundness of policy.
The problem for our Melbourne Sceptics is that the science they are trying so hard to uphold and purge of charlatans isn’t science at all but a sort of technologically sophisticated religion, Scientism, whose findings are to be observed by the devout on pain of some or other punishment.
Science isn’t about determing how people are to conduct their affairs, or live but to explaining observed phenomena using extant knowledge, and when that knowledge isn’t capable of explaining the observation, having the openness of mind to admit ignorance.
The Melbourne Sceptics are simply displaying crass ignorance of the scientific method.