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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scientism

[Let's try this post again, shall we?]

Lies and the lying liars who tell them.

True story: a rather technical-minded colleague and I were driving in rural Georgia while he Googled our route. I stopped on the short side of a T-shaped intersection facing a bank of road signs and private frontage. My friend, eyes glued to his iPhone, said "Go straight."

I didn't throw him out of the car, but suggested that maybe we ought to orienteer our way out of the situation.

In the course of some conversation with other friends, I mentioned uber-PC academic Noam Chomsky's venerable finding that homo sapiens appears biologically wired for abstract language. Not so, I was assured, based on more modern researchers' computer models of brains (as opposed to, say, actual human and animal brains).

I have previously posted on climatologists, trapped in pack ice which their computer models told them could not exist.

And here is genetic anthropologist Jennifer Raff, Ph.D. arguing that traditional racial groupings based on phenotypes and geography (i.e., what is plainly observable) are wrong because at the molecular level the groups roughly classed as "Asian" or "African" are actually more diverse, or less diverse, or something. Raff actually argues herself in a complete circle--the data she sees every day shows genetic diversity. Somehow we're supposed to conclude that calling Jennifer Raff ("white" and Michelle Obama "black" is just some arbitrary grouping that non-scientists pulled out of their hat. (And we know where that leads!)

Dr. Raff is noticeably absent from the follow-up thread.

Just imagine those pathetic old, white males up against the current crowd of Scientists running their computer models: Johannes Kepler, peering for hours through a crude telescope and working out the math with pencil and paper; Charles Darwin, tramping around the south Pacific, concluding that an orchid with an extraordinarily long nectary must be being fertilized by a nocturnal moth with an extraordinarily long proboscosis, and he was right; Louis Leakey, painstakingly digging a centimeter at a time in the Olduvai Gorge.

Which brings me back to orienteering. What a supremely elegant and literally "grounded" term--the sport and craft of taking out a map, orienting it and one's self to the actual geography, and plotting a route to take advantage of the terrain.

Modern scientists (and economists) remind me of my technical-minded colleague, going where his gadget told him to go instead of where his eyes could plainly tell him. The computer model has replaced the reality, a totalitarian's dream. Thus, human biodiversity does not exist, because our computer models tell us it does not. Global temperature rises are correlated with rising CO2, because our computer models tell us they are. Saving is bad for the economy because hey, ... computer model!

That is the whole goal and method of the Scientists: to administer their sacred, secret rites away from the uninitiates, out in the real world where people actually see things. Only the cognoscenti running their computer models in the inner sanctum hold the Real Truth. Gnosticism is an old heresy, and the Church has always been right to condemn it.

17 comments:

Joshua Scott Hotchkin said...

Great post!
I have linked to it over at my website...
http://scientismcentral.com
Check it out if you get a chance and we can perhaps share more links in the future.
Stay Strange!
-Joshua Scott Hotchkin

Gyan said...

There are no sacred, secret rites. Papers are published in journal anybody can read and even publish in. Indeed, far from promotion of consensus and conformity,
the scientific establishment prizes and rewards non-conformists.

However, it is always possible that some fields or sub-fields have got caught-up in idealogical errors.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

the scientific establishment prizes and rewards non-conformists.

A lot, probably more than scientists would like to admit, is already settled. Anybody talking about phlogiston would just be a crank. And nobody cares much about the far reaches of speculative physics.

Non-conformity is definitely not prized in the following areas:

the HIV/AIDS hypothesis
global warming/climate change
human neurological diversity

I've been told (maybe its wrong) that the social sciences are pretty much a Marxist Internationale.

Some iconoclasts are still around: Darwin's dangerous clan (all elderly).

Harold Lloyd said...

Hardcore "Science!" people mistakenly believe that the soft sciences are as fool proof and trustworthy as the hard sciences. It takes a special kind of naivete to do so, but its there and in plentiful amounts. I'm no expert, but I've certainly got the impression that computer models are heavily subjective and not sound enough to base massive policy changes on. But since they are labeled as "Science!" many assume they are hard as a rock.

I'm guessing the education system has whittled down whatever gumption and drive for independence we Americans had to a nub. People trust experts more than they do themselves. Maybe self esteem really is an issue!

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I'm disturbed by my particular bugaboo - how gnostic it's all become. The romantic version of "Science" used to be guys out there in khakis and pith helmet, or manning the telescopes at midnight. Now we explore the models; we don't actually explore reality. What a strange society we have become.

Gyan said...

To settle the state of knowledge is the very meaning of scientific progress.

Necessarily, it is a conservative process that works by persuasion. BUT with high rewards for a successful non-conformist.

In this way, the system is set-up against both stasis and cranks.

I myself would come up as a crank (in astrophysics) since I doubt we have sufficient reason to assume the Principle of Mediocrity. I see no reason why Earth or our Solar System should not be assumed to have a special place in the universe. Thus, I doubt the derivations from the principle of mediocrity such as Hubble expansion and consequently Big Bang.

There are other areas where the scientific method does not work well, such as nutrition.

C. Wingate said...

I don't think much of the mediocrity principle either, but it's such an obvious step outside of actual science that it's easy to disregard.

A-G, when you say that non-conformity is not prized in those four areas, well, in the third case your source is abusing the term (it means something else). But in the other two, a great deal of the disdain revolves around (a) the large number of manifestly unqualified people pontificating on the topics, and (b) the fact that the stuff is actually hard. Why should anyone take any of the AIDS dissenters seriously?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Because HIV remains confined to people with heavy loads on their immune systems.

C. Wingate said...

And just who is the source of that claim?

I know about the Duesberg thesis, and it isn't as if it hasn't been investigated and found wanting.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

No person has ever gotten AIDS who was not simultaneously operating under a heavy immune system load, as with heavily promiscuous anal intercourse, drug use and blood transfusions. The idea that perfectly healthy people were suddenly laid low by a killer freight-train of a virus is not consistent with what's being observed.

C. Wingate said...

Eliza Maggiore, and from what I can tell, her mother as well. But at any rate, what's you authority for that claim?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

A toddler - same group at risk of dying from influenza. I don't know mom's lifestyle. If your claim is true, she would be the only known individual who didn't engage in at-risk behavior to acquire it. I doubt it, or you and I would have it by now.

No authority is needed for the proposition that HIV/AIDS remains confined to people with heavy loads on their immune system from highly promiscuous anal intercourse, drug use, blood transfusions, tropical disease.

C Wingate said...

A-G, I can keep pulling well-known AIDS victims out of the pile (e.g. the Glasers) but in any case you're making an epidemiological claim for which actual statistical data is necessary as a justification. You do need an authority. As it stands, you're simply making ad hoc rationalizations for each case, so that it appears to me that your thesis isn't well-defined enough to be refuted by data, and therefore isn't scientific.

When it comes down to it, HIV is one of the most studied viruses on earth. For instance, it's known that its dependent on a specific protein as a gateway to infecting T cells, and it's known that there's a significant proportion of the population which has a mutation of the gene for this protein which protects them from infection. The notion that there are widely-disseminated hypotheses which haven't been put to the test is too ludicrous to be taken seriously without some very solid evidence. The medical expertise you are attempting to evidence is not your own, and a reasonable person would dispute it.

Bert said...

Some people will do anything to make excuses for sluts, faggots, and Negroes.

Try harder Winegate.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Again, blood transfusion and transmission to an infant.

it's known that there's a significant proportion of the population which has a mutation of the gene for this protein which protects them from infection.

Must be the same gene that triggers heterosexual attraction. Interesting.

C. Wingate said...

Only if you're willing to believe that Ryan White was doomed to be homosexual, but I'm guessing you're not a believer in that kind of genetic moral predestination. I also do not see fitting Arthur Ashe into that hypothesis.

Children have been infants and toddlers from the beginning; transfusions have been done in number for a hundred years. Even in the peak AIDS period many people were infants and/or had transfusions. Duesberg's thesis (that there was some other infectious agent besides HIV) has been tested heavily and shown to be incorrect; in any case some positive epidemiology is needed. Nothing you've proposed (whether or not I agree with it: so far you've provided nothing that inclines me to believe your empirical claims) is inconsistent with HIV being the infectious cause.

And Bert, whether or not anything I've said constitutes an excuse for the behavior of people who you despise, it is a certainty that white toddlers and white boys afflicted with hemophilia are not covered by your comdemnation. And in any case treatment and containment of STDs is simply good public health practice.

Bert said...

Once again, excuse making.

Inferiors are inferiors.