WUWT: Why I don’t ‘believe’ in ‘science’

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/03/27/why-i-dont-believe-in-science/

“[T]he way most people use it today—especially in a political context—is pretty much the opposite. They use it as a way of declaring belief in a proposition which is outside their knowledge and which they do not understand.”

5 thoughts on “WUWT: Why I don’t ‘believe’ in ‘science’

  1. Dr. Curry brings attention to a social behavior you can see almost every day in our local newspaper. I would go a step further and categorize “I believe in science” under the myth of human progress.

    Marx and Engles famously proposed a “scientific” explanation for the progress of history called the “dialectic.” In their view, primitive society begins with an idea, that idea faces challenges, then new ideas emerge from the conflict. As new ideas proliferate in this way, each facing challenges of its own, humanity evolves toward a predictable end state of perfection.

    I believe the processes of history are vastly more complicated than that, such that the evolutionary progress of humanity is by no means certain. For one thing, knowledge can be lost along the way — try building a duplicate of the Great Pyramid, for example. For another, humanity seems never to have escaped the many dilemmas it has always struggled with.

    It is sobering to contemplate what it means to say, realistically, that humanity has made little to no actual progress in all our existence. (The observation has profound consequences for our understanding of our own origins, among other things.) Nevertheless, the idea is useful for debunking thoughtless “belief” in science.

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    1. RE: “By what measure have we NOT progressed?”

      I gave two examples. The second may be the one more relevant to your question: “Humanity seems never to have escaped the many dilemmas it has always struggled with.”

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      1. To recap : You start with nonsense – “the myth of human progress” and use that nonsense as a basis for rejecting belief in the findings of science.

        When challenged to support that nonsense with some real measure you come up with more nonsense . .

        Loss of knowledge like how to build a pyramid.
        “Humanity seems never to have escaped the many dilemmas it has always struggled with.”

        The first is of course, silly. There is NOTHING from the past that could not be recreated today if anybody really wanted to do it.

        The second is simply a restatement of the same idea – “the myth of human progress” and it is obviously counterfactual. There are countless dilemmas that people of the past had to deal with that are no longer issues. You, for example, no longer have to choose between feeding your parents or feeding your children.

        Of course, we are still mortal if that is what you take to be evidence of lack of human progress.

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        1. RE: “You start with nonsense – ‘the myth of human progress’ and use that nonsense as a basis for rejecting belief in the findings of science.”

          I’m actually a big fan of science. I want more of it and more exciting pursuits of scientific knowledge. I object, however, to scientific ignorance and fetishism.

          Here’s an example of ignorance. It is a widely accepted commonplace to observe that we are unable to duplicate the construction of the Great Pyramid. There are two reasons for this. One is that we don’t know how it was constructed in the first place. Hence, we cannot reproduce the method. The other is that we do not possess the engineering technology required to replicate the tolerances the original builders achieved. As a result, it is ignorant to say “There is NOTHING from the past that could not be recreated today if anybody really wanted to do it.”

          There are other examples; Roman concrete comes to mind. It is one of the most studied materials in history, and yet the formula for recreating it has never been determined.

          In my view, the widespread tendency to make a fetish of science is itself evidence of the myth of human progress. It is what primitives do.

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