Ignorance is the New Science: The Arrogance of Man in Contemplating Male Nipples

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I happened upon the article Top 10 Useless Body Parts. Fairly certain that I would disagree with it, I debated reading it. I read it and was annoyed. Now, I am a huge proponent of science. After all, I have a degree in mathematics, and my thesis was entitled Analysis of Optimal Controls for Single and Multiple Agent Models in Treatments of Leukemia. (In other words, I am not ignorant with regard to science.) Interestingly enough, the word "science" has its roots in "to know" (see here). Thus, when I got to this part of the article, I was indignant:

"When you're sick you may feel that certain body parts are more trouble than they're worth. And in some cases, you'd be right...[A] few biological traces of our prehistoric ancestors still remain with us in the form of freeloading body parts we lug around with us, but have no use for."

It seems that ignorance has become knowledge and speculation has become science. Let us look past the evolution issue that most of my friends would debate in the article. I am not saying that it is not an issue worthy of discussion, but it's expected and dismissed. Instead, let us look at a fundamental error in the logic. Suppose we examine a structure we know to exist, e.g a third eyelid, body hair, male nipples, etc. However, we do not know what beneficial function this structure performs. Therefore, it must be useless. It must serve no good purpose. It must be vestigial. Behold the new scientific method:

  1. Define (beg) the question.
  2. Gather information and resources from those who agree with you.
  3. Speculate.
  4. Pretend to collect data.
  5. Analyze data.
  6. Manipulate data and draw conclusions that justify your speculation.
  7. State that you are correct to like-minded researchers.
  8. Never question your conclusion again.

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