The radio had on a woman frightened about passing on coronadoom to her kids via breast milk. That the lady was fearful isn’t surprising given the constant bombardment of coronadoom propaganda. The basis of the woman’s fear was created by experts. Her own imagination went to work on the structure those experts provided, and built a terrifying edifice.
Before we get to the main point, which isn’t coronadoom but the tyranny of experts, here’s an example of what I mean of self-made expert-caused panic:
Just when you think you’ve seen it all. pic.twitter.com/6jjd722NWA
— Tony (@Mrtdogg) July 21, 2020
Back to the radio. What was irritating was what the radio newsreader said: “We talked to certified lactation specialists who said…”
Certified lactation specialists!
For thousands of years women, sick or well, have fed their brood in the obvious way. It wasn’t until “experts” came along in the Twentieth Century with their charts and statistics, and for-purchase baby formula, that women found a better way.
Better, that is, until further experts came along, now labeled certified lactation specialists, and assured women that teats were tops. Some form of normality returned, but a normality certified by experts. Modern women believed their tits were not just decorative only when scientists finally told them so.
Regular readers will recall this (a perpetual theme) is an instance of scientism of the first kind. This is when an obviously true proposition, known to be true throughout history, is not announced officially as true until certified credentialed experts say it is true, preferably because these experts conducted “randomized” controlled trials.
It’s not that the experts’ information is wrong, or not always, but that it wasn’t needed. It gives false assurances and encourages belief in scientism of the second and deadly kind, which is the believe that science can answer all questions.
We are saturated in examples; lately we have a surfeit of coronadoom examples.
Take the theologians at Fordham University, highlighted in this story:
Reopening Catholic college campuses this fall presents a “wicked problem” with life-and-death consequences, several theologians said Tuesday.
These problems are “so complex as to defy any single solution” and “require ethical triage because every option, it seems, brings a potential for harm to someone in some way,” explained Patrick Hornbeck, professor of theology at Fordham University, at the start of the July 14 online panel, “Reopening Justly or Just Reopening?”
Complex? The meaning of life is nothing next to what do in the face of a routine virus outbreak. As I’ve said before, 2020 is the year experts pretended to forget all they knew about viruses.
After reading this, it’s clear we need a third designation for types of scientism. The first is the useless kind, when science is needlessly consulted. The second is when experts believe that all questions, moral, ethical, physical, and metaphysical, must be answered by science. The theologians come close to this, but what they display instead is pomposity. Scientism of the third kind is thus grandiose hubris.
It’s not wrong a man has an opinion on a subject which touches him, like coronadoom panic, but in which he is largely ignorant, like in the genetics of viruses. College professors who have to addle minds in the fall have to know whether to lay in a new supply of chalk or not. So it’s right they should take about reactions to the panic and how they might affect them or their students.
But it’s pomposity when the ignorant elevate their loose opinions in a such an absurd formal way, as if they are discovering new tenets of ethical behavior.
Formalization of the routine is everywhere. Call it the bureaucratization of knowledge, if you like. It is annoying wherever it is found.
It’s also related to attempts to quantify the unquantifiable. For some reason, a link to the physics journal EPL came across my path. Seems a typical outlet. What was aggravating was the prominent announcement on their home page that their “2019 IMPACT FACTOR” was “1.958”.
Not, mind you, 1.957. But 1.958. Which is better than 1.957. More impactful, a gross contemporary neologism and flawless indicator, when you hear its use, of a mind that has succumbed. Anyway, have we really reached the stage of science where we can measure a journal’s “impact” to the thousandth degree?
It’s not that this measure, and many more like it, is wrong: it’s that it isn’t anything. It’s a hollow shell dressed up to be something. Creators of “impact factors”, nauseating called a “scientometric index“, and a plethora of quantified “scales”, know that we can’t ignore numbers. They are realer than reality. How depressing.
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