Modern Alternative Mama admits she doesn’t believe in science; who would have guessed?

Scientific method word cloud concept with abstract background

You can’t make this stuff up!

Yesterday, Modern Alternative Mama Kate Tietje posted this to her Facebook page:

I don’t believe in science…

I appreciate the process of science. I like to use science to inform my choices. But I do not “believe” in it.

Who would have guessed?

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Science is a process of inquiry; alternative health is a belief system.[/pullquote]

How about anybody who knows the difference between science and the nonsense that Tietje peddles? … And I do mean peddles since this is a money making proposition for her.

Let’s parse her words to see what I mean.

…[S]cience is NOT a belief system!!

Science is a process. It is a method of inquiry. It is a way in which we try to understand the world around us.

It appears that Kate is trying to justify the fact that she routinely ignores scientific evidence. In doing so, she conflates the process of science with scientific evidence, the yield of that process.

What is the process of science?

  1. Make an observation or observations.
  2. Ask questions about the observations and gather information.
  3. Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what’s been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis.
  4. Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.
  5. Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
  6. Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.

Let’s contrast that with the “process” of alternative health.

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Conclude that the observation is reproducible, generalizable and immutable.

In other words, while science is a process, alternative health is a belief system. You see it; you believe it.

Here’s the critical distinction:

Science tells us that what we think may not be true. Alternative health tells us that what we think must always be true.

Kate continues:

If you believe in science, and think the science is settled and clear and will never change of any topic, then you do not understand what science is. You are worshiping that topic like a religion instead.

Please, join me in saying: ‪#‎ScienceIsNotaBelief‬ We can’t change how people think until we understand what science actually is and use it appropriately. That means continuing to question, continuing to look for new information and new interpretations of the available information. This is critical to our future.”

But believing in “science,” does not entail thinking that scientific evidence is settled and clear. In fact, confidence in the process of science means that you DON’T think that scientific evidence is settled and clear. The process of science is based on the assumption that there will ALWAYS be new evidence and that the new evidence will help us come closer to understanding the truth about the particular issue under study.

In contrast, believing in alternative health means that you DO think that the truth is settled. The truth is whatever you have observed (or believe that you have observed). It will not change. For people like Kate Tietje, their belief that vaccines cause autism is immutable. It cannot be changed by any amount of contradictory information. That’s why purveyors of alternative health don’t bother to subject their beliefs to testing; what would be the point?

The massive power of science comes precisely from the fact that it is not a belief system, but a system of constant inquiry that allows us to approach the truth of the matter. The central defect of alternative health, like all pseudoscience, is that it is a belief system and that it involves no inquiry.

And the process of science, far from being a highly technological endeavor, is an innate process. Babies are little scientists. They sit in a high chair and drop food and toys over the side, repeatedly checking to make sure that objects fall down, not up. They’re testing a hypothesis and will modify it based on what they find. They don’t learn about gravity by reading a book. They learn by testing.

Alternative health, in contrast, is a belief system like religion. It is taught in books and on websites and message boards. There are no hypotheses and there is no testing. It is a matter of faith.

When we say we “believe in science,” we mean that we believe that the process of science provides the best approximation of the workings of the natural world and the most predictive power. We believe that scientific evidence is the most accurate evidence. The virtue of science is that it isn’t a belief system. The problem with alternative health is that it is.