Skip to comments.The Folly of Scientism
Posted on 12/12/2012 6:07:02 PM PST by neverdem
When I decided on a scientific career, one of the things that appealed to me about science was the modesty of its practitioners. The typical scientist seemed to be a person who knew one small corner of the natural world and knew it very well, better than most other human beings living and better even than most who had ever lived. But outside of their circumscribed areas of expertise, scientists would hesitate to express an authoritative opinion. This attitude was attractive precisely because it stood in sharp contrast to the arrogance of the philosophers of the positivist tradition, who claimed for science and its practitioners a broad authority with which many practicing scientists themselves were uncomfortable.
The temptation to overreach, however, seems increasingly indulged today in discussions about science. Both in the work of professional philosophers and in popular writings by natural scientists, it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth. And this attitude is becoming more widespread among scientists themselves. All too many of my contemporaries in science have accepted without question the hype that suggests that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects.
Of course, from the very beginning of the modern scientific enterprise, there have been scientists and philosophers who have been so impressed with the ability of the natural sciences to advance knowledge that they have asserted that these sciences are the only valid way of seeking knowledge in any field. A forthright expression of this viewpoint has been made by the chemist Peter Atkins, who in his 1995 essay Science as Truth asserts the universal competence of science. This position has been called scientism a term that was originally intended to be...
(Excerpt) Read more at thenewatlantis.com ...
That didn't hold back the "scientistic" ideologues, however, as the article makes clear.
I like this article...haven’t finished it (at work)...bookmarking.
Though nowhere explicitly stated (though a veiled reference about half way through). This is obviously an anti-global warming article. The author was wise to not say the word even once, but from years of following this topic, every single thing the skeptic side argues as far as the corruption of science was covered her...every single one.
Science is the student and philosophy is the proctor.
Science fiction MUST seem logical, else whats the point...
Sci-fi needs a good yarn to be believable.. else its boring..
Atoms are not little balls revolving around one another.. there may be no such thing as atoms..
Reality has no need to be logical, or mentally cogent.. because it has nothing to prove.. no agenda..
Reality needs no Yarns or formulas.. or theory’s..
Because...... What is... “IS”..... and what ain’t..... “AIN’T”..
Humans are like monkeys inspecting a cheap watch.. because it’s shiny..
And, you know, TICKS...
Thank you for posting this.
read the whole thing.
along the same lines:
Nothing new here. For those who have the time, read “Apology” by Plato. It is the courtroom self-defense by Socrates before his fellow Athenians. The reason for the trumped up charges against him was he embarrassed men who thought they had valuable opinions on everything because they were experts in their very narrow fields. In short, their pride was hurt.
Humility is necessary in all professions, but especially in science. Plenty of world-class scientists today won’t admit they could possibly be wrong. Both their careers and sense of self-identities are bound up in controversial science. Those who push AGW against the evidence will not just be humiliated when it all falls apart... they will have nervous breakdowns!
If Hollywood actors and DC politicians can pontificate on any and all subjects, so why not scientists?
Scientism is actually a subset of the attitude Tom Sowell has covered many times, and one I run into frequently in my line of work.
The more educated a person is, the more likely he is to assume that his expertise in field A will transfer into expertise in any field. Which is of course nonsense.
In my considerable experience doctors, lawyers and retired military officers are just about the worst in this regard.
The political expression of this attitude is the idea that lawyers and bureaucrats should be put in charge of all aspects of our society.
You are a Stockbroker ?
Nope. I fix homes that undergo damage of various types: fire, water, sewage backup, mold growth, etc.
It’s surprising the number of people who think their expertise in corporate law makes them expert in how to fix damaged homes.
For some odd reason they don’t assume the opposite. Nobody ever assumes the expert plumber is thereby qualified to perform surgery.
In a former life I was a Stockbroker and the most arrogant clients were doctors and lawyers.
For the most part, they had no clue what they were saying and lost the most amount of money when they made their own picks.
I can well believe it. I’ve seen them make some really bone-headed decisions.
There are those however that are actually very intelligent, and if the information is presented logically, they do get it quickly. They usually are also smart enough to recognize just knowing how to do something is a far cry from being able to do it themselves without experience.
Hmmm, all three of these professions seem to require convincing others of you know what you are talking about. You need to trust the doctor that he knows how to heal you. You need to trust the lawyer that he knows the best legal course to take. You need to trust the military officer that his battle plan will end with the enemy rather than you and your buddies being killed.
If Hollywood actors and DC politicians can pontificate on any and all subjects, so why not scientists?that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects
They can - but you missed the word after pontificate in the quoted sentence.Anyone can pontificate on any subject - but not all of us can do so wisely.
Thats why this thread needs me. ;-)
Its surprising the number of people who think their expertise in corporate law makes them expert in how to fix damaged homes. For some odd reason they dont assume the opposite. Nobody ever assumes the expert plumber is thereby qualified to perform surgery.
The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. - John W. Gardner
But not as much; now that I am here...
Advocates of scientism today claim the sole mantle of rationality, frequently equating science with reason itself.
"Philosophy is a necessity for a rational being. Philosophy is the foundation of science, the organizer of man's mind, the integrator of his knowledge, the programmer of his subconscious, the selector of his values."
"The present state of the world is not the proof of philosophy's impotence, but the proof of philosophy's power. It is philosophy that has brought us to this state - it is only philosophy that can lead us out."
"If, in the course of philosophical detection, you find yourself at times, stopped by the indignantly bewildered question: "How could anyone arrive at such nonsense?" - you will begin to understand it when you discover that evil philosophies are systems of rationalization."
Italics = article, quotes = Rand
$he blinded me with $cience...
FYI. Who is Austin L. Hughes?
Ooh, that is a good one.