18 August 2007

Enemies of Scientism

Enemies of Reason pt. 1 is out. It has an excellent soundbite where an astrologer's response to bringing up swapping people's horoscopes is I think what you're up to here is mischief. Ooh-la-la. Remember: scrutiny equals mischief.

Next he says: I just don't believe in the experiment, Richard. It's that simple. (Magical thinking? He can make everything uncomfortable go away by simply not believing in it?)

In defense of his livelihood the Observer astrologer responds (via):

For scientism, however, personal experience is not admissible. Everything must be subject to randomised, controlled double-blind trials, just like medical drugs - 'drugs that work' as Dawkins insists.
Scientism, of course, hates meaning. It prefers to view humanity as a random accident, isolated in a cosmos of 'indifferent vastness' - the legacy of the post-Copernican enlightenment that Dawkins claims is now being 'betrayed'. The opposing view, that the world has soul and purpose, that humanity and the cosmos are linked, is to be found not, as he and others claim, in the dogma of religion, but in art and in the depth psychology of Freud and Jung that Dawkins holds in contempt.

What a brilliantly straightforward demonstration of 'meaning' used to signify unwarranted self-importance on the part of humanity.

Hmm, scientism. There's a blemish of a word.

The first quote for the 'overzealous' sense of scientism in OED is Shaw's 1921 Back to Metuselah, running through FA Hayek to the welcoming embrace of people feeling miffed at their bread-and-butter getting questioned.

Huston Smith: Scientism adds to science two corrollaries: first, that the scientific method is, if not the only reliable method of getting at the truth, then at least the most reliable method; and second, that the things science deals with—material entities—are the most fundamental things that exist. You know, material entities, like beams of light. Or perhaps he's using "material" in the sense of not imaginary.

This is from GR Peterson's Demarcation and the Scientistic Fallacy:

Thus, scientism would not be said to occur in the proper discouse of metaphysics and theology, not because these disciplines do not make claims about the ultimate nature of knowledge and reality (they do) but because making such claims is part of the proper function of these disciplines, which are not commonly understood to be among the sciences.

Ahh, I think I get it now. This is about people who are sore because they're afraid that their cushy little gravy-train of never getting questioned might run out of steam.


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