Science As The Savior?

Science As The Savior?

A view of Lower Manhattan from across the river that is not.

Scientism is not science! The "dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable" is not science! But unfortunately, the most vocal perpetrators of scientism are often scientists themselves, followed by those who we regard to be scientific minded people. And sadly, many scientists are unaware of their own scientism.

We have to be very careful here. The above statements do not, in any way, imply that all science is bad, or the science you don't agree with is wrong. Science has a domain and a range, although these aren't always clear or established. The problem arises when science operates out of its own domain and gets its range wrong, "explaining away" things it can not really explain.

Science is not the savior, despite the fact that we are often led to believe that it is. We can not go on living reckless lives and trashing the environment with the hope that science and technology will some day rescue us from ourselves. Most natural phenomena is complex and/or chaotic and it's very difficult to establish a scientific causality. Regrettably, science can very often be its own greatest confirmation bias.

Someone asked for an actual example. According to scientists, moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial. Cool! We can go on drinking. According to scientists, even moderate consumption of alcohol is bad for you. Confusion! Should we stop? Maybe it's simpler to pick the "science" which justifies whatever we're going to do anyway. "Maybe it is, maybe it's not", is not exactly science is it? Yet, all sides don't refrain from presenting it as science. Examples are a plenty.

They say science is a method, a process, or a procedure - not a conclusion. That is only partially true. Even at a methodological level, sciences differ and use varying standards. They also say that science is self-correcting. How is it science if premature conclusions have to be "corrected"? The fact is, a significant volume of science is just a collection of best-guesses. An educated guess is ultimately still a guess. Some guesses are useful while others might be fatal. This raises many questions: How well does science really fare, compared to experience and knowledge obtained through trial and error? Will science ever leave heuristics in the past, or does it inherently depend on it? Which best-guesses could be highly consequential - short and long term - if they turn out to be wrong? How big is the overhead in science - in other words, how much science is required to solve the problems that science itself causes or contributes to? So much for salvation...
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