How Science Lost Its Respectability

Science, in the pure sense, is simply a process. But since this process is so incredibly productive, lots of people and groups have grafted the name onto themselves. That was always a risky thing to do, but for a long time the fruits weren’t too bad, and the groups contained a lot of serious people who cared more about discovery that they did base gain. In more recent times, however, we’ve seen the corruption and even the disgrace of what people think of as science.

Scientific Marxism” (with its hundred million plus death toll) certainly drove some of this, but the big wave of Marxism came when the philosophy of science was much stronger than it is now, and serious scientists dismissed the Marxist claims something of a dangerous joke.

And so I’d like to explain the other corruptions of science. In other words, I’d like to explain why we are right to treat the “science” that is promoted by all things large and loud as inherently suspect.

Political Control

We all know that politicians are liars and thieves. They way they convince people to vote for them is to portray their opponents as horribly evil. It is the lesser monster who wins elections, not the candidate who is demonstrably good.

And so, politics taking over scientific funding has spread this rot into the labs and offices controlling scientific research. I’ll spare you details (more or less every scientists can tell horror stories), and merely say that the barbarians now lord it over the scientists… and far too many scientists have turned into junior barbarians.

The desperate succumb, the brave are expelled.

A Refuge For The Emotionally Scarred

Please consider this insightful passage from Eric Hoffer’s The Ordeal of Change:

There is an element of misanthropy in all determinists. To all of them man as he really is is a nuisance, and they strive to prove by various means that there is no such thing as human nature.

I don’t wish to be uncharitable, but a significant percentage of people entering scientific professions do so (at least in part) because they feel it resonates with their damage… with their scars.

Since the late Enlightenment, science has been portrayed as the enemy of faith. And so it became attractive to people who were abused by various faiths, or by people claiming to represent such faiths.

And, of course, this travels right along with the misanthropic philosophies that have overflowed the academy: Post-modernism, Deconstruction, Critical Theory and so on. All are slash and burn ideologies, focused on chopping down faith, or at least destroying traditional values.

Those traditional values, however, were sometimes benevolent and productive. Swinging the sword of science against them in an emotional outburst was foolish… immensely foolish.

The Levers of Power

Here’s another insightful quote, this one from George Orwell:

The secret wish of this English Russophile intelligentsia was to destroy the old, equalitarian version of Socialism and usher in a hierarchical society where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip.

The levers of power call out and seduce, and many scientists have succumbed. The urge to get one’s hands on power can be justified in nearly infinite ways.

This desire to get one’s hands on the whip involves everything from lording it over a department to running an organization that dictates policy that will be forced upon millions of people. Scientists will continue to be corrupted by it, and for as long as the opportunity lasts.

Guiding Power

One of the great errors of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods was to imagine that enlightened types could guide rulers into becoming blessings. Here’s how Allan Bloom explained it in The Closing of the American Mind:

Enlightenment was not only, or perhaps not even primarily, a scientific project but a political one. It began from the premise that the rulers could be educated, a premise not held by the Enlightenment’s ancient brethren.

To rule is to apply coercion and to justify it. It involves the use of force, confusion and a variety of intimidations. Educating the ruler, so he or she becomes a philosopher king, has always been a fool’s errand… a self-aggrandizing dream of an easy way out. And it has more or less always led downward, as physicist and author David Deutsch noted:

The Continental Enlightenment was impatient for the perfected state – which led to intellectual dogmatism, political violence and new forms of tyranny.

Nonetheless, a great number of science types have been seduced by this.

The Ego of The Public Scientist

By using “ego” here, I don’t mean it in the best sense. And it has been a very common characteristic of public scientists to become egotistical, right along with becoming lax and errant.

I won’t go through examples, but I think we’ve all seen it… and it isn’t pretty.

And Yet Science Remains

What is the chaff to the wheat?” God advised Jeremiah. And so it is for the remaining devotees of science proper.

My point in writing this is not to demean actual science, but to point out that the science foisted on the public is a disaster, and that the people who are serious about science should start speaking up, and start separating from it.

Authority has no place in science. And so I leave you with the motto of the Royal Society, the outsider group that played such a great role in getting science moving, back in the 1600s:

Nullius in verba

Take nobody’s word for it.


Paul Rosenberg

2 thoughts on “How Science Lost Its Respectability”

  1. I have oft wondered about the demise of the empirical method and it’s replacement by computer models (that are easily manipulated to achieve and end) This seems to me to be a major factor in the demise of science. I appreciate your insights too.

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