William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

March For Politics, Scientism & Scidolatry

Stream: March For Politics, Scientism & Scidolatry.

The upcoming March for Science—check with your nearest purple-haired activist for directions and times—is to no one’s surprise turning out to be one of those standard-issue paroxysms of “outrage”, grief, and angst directed against…well, this time against those who are against science.

Which is a group comprised of exactly no one.

Since there is no opposition to science, protesting against those who are against science ensures the March will be a success. Nothing burns as brightly as a Straw Man.

Let’s see if we can analyze this March scientifically. There are three broad motivations for participation: politics, scientism, and scidolatry.

Politics

Not only is the march providing moments of high comedy, it is allowing our self-appointed betters a stellar opportunity for virtue signalling.

Politicians and celebrities are courting injury, rushing to the nearest cameras, anxious to let their constituents and fans know they are “for” science.

Some in the march realize that the event has become just another political event, and are suggesting politicians try to maintain a low profile. You may as well ask fish to eschew water.

President Donald Trump is said not to love science with sufficient ardor. And by that marchers mean they believe Trump is disinclined to spend money on favored projects.

[]

Scientism

Can you see the flaw in this argument? The heat of vaporization of tungsten is 774-thousand Joules per mole; therefore, rape is morally wrong.

The number is correct. But nothing about morals or ethics flows from any scientific statement. Ever. Philosophy and religion precede science. Science cannot even say why 2 + 2 = 4 (though it can use that fact). The belief that science can answer philosophical questions is called scientism, the fallacy that science provides the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Science tells us facts and makes predictions. For example, science tells us this fact: a man pretending to be a woman is a man. But it is a question of morals and not science whether it is right or wrong for the government to insist we act as if this man is a woman.

[]

Scidolatry

It’s hard not to escape the sensation that many marchers feel (not think) Science is some kind of mysterious being. And that Science isn’t happy with the state of the world. It must be appeased. It must be supplicated. It must be worshiped. “Hail Science!” “Raise your hand if you believe in Science!

If we do not pay sufficient attention to this magnificent entity, it might turn against us and refuse to reveal more of itself to us.

Celebrity scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, “The good thing about Science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Pure scidolatry, that.

Science isn’t true, nor is it false. It is a collection of facts and predictions, some of which are true or good, and some false or bad. Tyson is substituting Science in for God, or suggesting that because a scientist says a thing, that thing is therefore true. Which is obviously false.

[]

Single file, now. In an orderly fashion, click on over.

12 Comments

  1. Interesting that belief in Scientism has become a matter of faith and is creating it’s own myths, totems and priesthood. And, of course, let us not forget the use of the ever popular human sacrifice which for the moment only involves character assassination and the occasional beating. Where is Teilhard de Chardin SJ to explain it all?

  2. Regarding that photo – now that’s what a fine American mob used to look like; suits, ties, and hats. You just know their shoes are polished, too. Burning down a castle and hanging the miscreants inside was important business back then, and their attire reflects that. Not like the disheveled slobs you get at a modern riot. The modern god of Science dresses its pathetic votaries in the comic rags of satanic clowns. Make American Riots Great Again!

  3. Briggs, is the report on a statistical linkage between diet soda and dementia an example of good science or bad?
    http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/04/20/STROKEAHA.116.016027

  4. @MikeW

    That study is bad.

    1. They didn’t measure diet soda intake.
    2. They applied statistics unnecessarily. Really, they could have just counted the number of patients in each group: stroke/no-stroke, dementia/no-dementia.
    3. Link is a weasel word used to imply causation. There is no evidence of causation presented.

  5. Armies march.
    Real scientists ask questions.

  6. About a month ago I did a quantitative analysis of the motive listed in their own website. Needless to say, promotion of scientific knowledge and the scientific process did not fare well.

    The post is called “March for Science” and is in the blog that you should be linked to if you click on my name here. The spam filter won’t let me post the link directly.

  7. The several flaws in the arguments Briggs presents ought to be obvious to everybody … not the least of which is degrading oneself to asserting conclusions from a quote, not only taken out of context, but taken off a T-shirt slogan! Here’s that actual quote in context:

    “Once science has been established, once a scientific truth emerges from a consensus of experiments and observations, it is the way of the world. What I’m saying is, when different experiments give you the same result, it is no longer subject to your opinion. That’s the good thing about science: It’s true whether or not you believe in it. That’s why it works.” N. deG. Tyson

    About that, Briggs says this: “Tyson is substituting Science in for God, or suggesting that because a scientist says a thing, that thing is therefore true. Which is obviously false.”

    Anyone with half a brain can comprehend that what Tyson said is not what Briggs said Tyson said. In fact, what Tyson said — in its entirety and in context — actually comports with what Briggs believes & asserts:

    “Science isn’t true, nor is it false. It is a collection of facts and predictions, some of which are true or good, and some false or bad.”

    Briggs and Tyson are in agreement! They both say pretty much the same thing, though the two specific quotes presented here cover a bit different territory (Tyson describes science, consistency of findings sufficient to reach a conclusion, to accept as fact, and then how that’s generally accepted [‘the way of the world’]; Briggs’ remark is limited to science collecting fact). Tyson’s complete remark and more examples of such agreement (by Feynman [“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts’] & Popper [“… science is one of the very few human activities — perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there.”], are at https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-of-the-following-quote-from-Neil-deGrasse-Tyson-%E2%80%9CThe-good-thing-about-science-is-that-its-true-whether-or-not-you-believe-in-it%E2%80%9D)

    This raises the question: ‘Why is Briggs so hell-bent on slamming science that he would libel Tyson [degrading himself in the process by citing a T-shirt slogan no less rather than the actual quote in full context] to bash science?’

    Consider Feynman’s observation:

    “So there came a time in which the ideas, although accumulated very slowly, were all accumulations not only of practical and useful things, but great accumulations of all types of prejudices, and strange and odd beliefs.

    “Then a way of avoiding the disease was discovered. This is to doubt that what is being passed from the past is in fact true, and to try to find out ab initio again from experience what the situation is, rather than trusting the experience of the past in the form in which it is passed down. And that is what science is: The result of the discovery that it is worthwhile rechecking by new direct experience, and not necessarily trusting the [human] race[‘s] experience from the past.”

    Briggs, like so many, have a need to trust and believe in “the experience of the past in the form in which it is passed down” … and, again, scientific inquiry & findings (“science,” represented via the ad hominem “scientism”) are nibble-by-nibble proving certain ‘past experience’ and its ‘form’ are wrong.

    Having one’s cherished beliefs undermined, perhaps to be disproved conclusively, can be a terrifying prospect … what better way to avoid that than by “killing the messenger”?

  8. I still think the best riposte to scientism is that of Fr. Stanley Jaki, O.B, Ph.D. (his graduate work was in high energy physics):

    “To answer the question ‘To be or not to be?’ we cannot turn to a science textbook.”
    Fr. Stanley Jaki, The Limits of a Limitless Science.

  9. yea!!! the blockquote thingy worked!!!

  10. Ken wrote, quoting the evangelist for scientism, Neil deGrasse Tyson:

    “Once science has been established, once a scientific truth emerges from a consensus of experiments and observations, it is the way of the world. What I’m saying is, when different experiments give you the same result, it is no longer subject to your opinion. That’s the good thing about science: It’s true whether or not you believe in it. That’s why it works.” N. deG. Tyson

    That’s not true, if one knows anything about the history of science. The ether was disproved, but before Michelson-Morley it was “true”. According to many eminent 19th century physicists, such as Ernst Mach, molecules were a convenient fiction, until Einstein’s Brownian motion theory and Perrin’s experiments in the early 20th century put the experimental icing on the theoretical cake.
    The point is, that science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Even today there’s news that the Standard Model, that wonderful creation, may not be entirely correct, according to new results from the Large Hadron Collider. Science does NOT PROVIDE ETERNAL TRUTHS!

  11. I should add, concerning deGrasse’s statement, that confirmatory experiments do not “prove” a theory is true; they only show that it is not false, or in more realistic terms, is applicable in the domain of conditions to which it might apply.
    So if we go to the evidence of the past, like the Resurrection of Jesus, or other historical records, there is nothing science can say to show they are false. Moreover, there is no way that “science” can prove that God does not exist.

  12. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Ran across this:

    George Turner | April 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Reply
    They tried to have a march for engineering once, but the engineers thought marching was an inefficient use of human resources and just sent robots instead.

    https://judithcurry.com/2017/04/22/untangling-the-march-for-science/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2017 William M. Briggs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑