It’s incredible that in the wake of financial crises and populist movements around the world anyone would wonder whether a glitzy awards gala and lavish prizes would help improve the public’s view of science, yet that is one proposal to boost the public’s opinion in the wake of floundering financial support. […]
Sarah Salviander provides some much needed perspective on the state of science today and its relationship to the American populace. I encourage you to read it before or after my comments. She provides an insider’s perspective, looking out on the audience, wondering where science is going wrong.
As an outsider looking in, I applaud her, not just because she is looking out, but I think she is right.
I can’t comment on what science can do to re-connect with the populace audience – as if science were a person or even a defined group of people who could react to an audience.
Yet here we are, personifying “science” as if science had a brain and the will to act on its own. It’s weird that we do that. It is the natural outgrowth of the unthinking tendency we have to speak in generalizations. Our generalizations take on a life of their own, perpetuating themselves in our minds as if they had some independent existence of their own. (Did you see how I even personified the idea of generalizations?)
Science doesn’t do anything; scientists do! Scientists, however, don’t act or think in unison, though we often think as if they do, and we call that Science. But all of this is beside the point.
A segment of our society venerates science and scientists with almost idolatrous trust and confidence. I don’t mean to undermine that confidence here, and I don’t mean any disrespect. At the same time, that veneration (and the tendency of the scientific community to feed on it), is unhealthy, in my opinion, and is part of the reason why there is a disconnect with the populace who, largely perhaps, distrust “science”.
Sarah Salviander speaks of the media running wild with misinformation to the chagrin of honest scientists. I believe her when she says that, and I’m relieved to know that scientists themselves, some of them anyway, are angered by it. But, I get the sense that a certain segment of the scientific community is content with the misinformation to the populace – as long as that misinformation is in keeping with the party line.
What’s the party line? A naturalistic worldview that is championed by Neo-Darwinism and multiverses.
The average yokul who has heard the new-atheists attack the God of the gaps isn’t fooled by the scientific credentials and science-speak. A multiverse in the gaps is nothing more than repackaging the God of the gaps for a different audience.
The real issue, which Sarah Salviander touches on, is the idealization of science (and then the politicization of that ideology). Science, itself, which is shorthand for a way of thinking, the scientific method, really isn’t to blame. Scientists and the scientific community at large are the culprits.
The scientific community is beholden to two centuries of bowing at the altar of Charles Darwin and (really not so much Darwin but) the Huxleys and Humes who seized Darwin’s work and commandeered it into a bullwork of naturalistic ideology. This ideology finds its modern expression in the New Atheists who bully the rest of the scientific community to bow at the same altar.
Yes, ideology. Though adherents will strongly deny it, they are driven by an ideology. Call it scientism, or whatever; it’s a particular way of viewing the world that isn’t science, and it’s not even particularly scientific in its adherence to suppositions. It’s a filter through which those who control the public scientific discourse present science to the public.
Science, to the extent that it is the study of the natural world, naturally is dominated by a focus on the natural world, but, if science were honest with itself (there I go again), it would admit of the possibility of other knowledge. Science is not necessarily exclusive of metaphysical, intuitive, religious, moral, philosophical and other knowledge. But, many scientists are.
Many scientists attempt to commandeer science as a weapon against religiosity, in particular. They do this by forcing morality and philosophy, for instance, through naturalistic filters. They serve their naturalistic stew up to the populace in the package of science, and people aren’t buying it.
I am admittedly an outsider to science, but I know many scientists who labor in silence (mostly) as the ideologues control and steer the ship, and they have the same opinion as I do. Many do not speak precisely because the ideologues control the politics of the scientific world and those who fund it. Speaking against the controlling ideology often means loss of funding and even loss of work.
Science, of all disciplines, should not be so controlled by ideology and the presuppositions and dogmas that go with it ideological thinking. But people are people, and scientists are people, and people operate on ideologies and worldviews – even if they deny it.