I’m more aware of bad science than ever since reading Ben Goldacre’s book of the same name a few years ago. Familiarity bias and proximity bias no doubt!. So, another day, and another LinkedIn post from a well-meaning consultant using “science” to support their argument. This post links to a YouTube video about business leadership. It makes a perfectly reasonable point about how much interconnectedness there is in the world. The author could support their argument using ideas from Systems Thinking, for example. However, they invoke, and then mangle, the idea of entanglement from quantum mechanics; a favourite subject for purveyors of woo.
Entanglement states that the way sub-atomic particles interact means their quantum state cannot be described independently regardless of physical location. In other words, a change in the spin of one entangled particle will be replicated in the other no matter how many light years separate them. Now, this might be OK if the entanglement of quantum theory was limited to an analogy, but we are urged to believe that this long-distance connection between sub-atomic particles explains some mystical connection between all humans. Why? Well, according to the author it is because, of course, we are all made of atoms!
Logically, this is the equivalent of stating that humans must be born from clouds because we mostly consist of water and, you guessed it, water comes from clouds too!
The principles of the scientific method are to test hypotheses to find out if they stand up. The assumption is that most hypotheses will be replaced by better ones as we learn more. Sometimes they withstand testing and experiment sufficiently well to become a theory that provides a robust explanation of something significant. A good example is the theory of evolution. Non-Scientists often misunderstand the meaning of the word theory in a scientific context. The misunderstanding is given away by statements such as: “Evolution? It’s only a theory”.
Free speech is important so, by all means, everyone should be free to post any idea that crosses their mind. However, if you don’t understand the science you want to cite, please remember the quote from Chris Morris’s excellent “Brass Eye” TV series: “…there’s no evidence for it, but it’s a scientific fact”. At least then we’d know you were only joking even if you are unaware yourself.
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