When our new book, Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids, came out at TAM last July, Daniel and I were both wondering what kind of response we would get from the cryptozoology community. Daniel is always more optimistic about people than I am. He felt that at least some cryptozoologists attempt to follow the scientific method and want to be taken seriously as scientists, and they would give the book a fair hearing despite the mountains of evidence we compiled that demolishes their ideas. My expectation was a bit different. My hide is scarred by 40 years of battling creationists, and I’ve seen how facts and evidence and logic don’t matter to people when a skeptic challenges a belief that they hold deeply and which gives them meaning in their lives.
This drives me nuts: real science doesn’t need to resort to name-calling.
Sometimes creationists get on my nerves, with their attempts to make the evidence fit their narrative – and I don’t care at all about cryptozoology – but I am far more concerned about what is IMO a much greater threat to science. I am watching the growing tendency of scientists to merge their beliefs with articles of faith and dogma, and I think it’s not a coincidence that such “scientists” need to call their ideological rivals ugly names.
Why do scientists feel the need to shout down everyone who does not agree with them? Why do they not lay out their evidence and defend it? The answer: because if they did that, it would be only three or four “moves” until we got to the heart of the matter: their answers are only “true” if their assumptions are – and the disputed realms are those which involve inherently unprovable assumptions.