Science vs. Science™!
Every now and again I come across a fantastic article that warrants posting here. I have seen a recent proliferation of articles in respected publications pointing out, bemoaning, and/or highlighting increasing problems with the trustworthiness of the alleged findings of the contemporary scientific community. I find these articles to be particularly interesting given how our society looks to science as a (the?) source of ultimate truths (often as a mutually exclusive alternative to spirituality). This sort of scientism may be misplaced, and these articles delve into the pitfalls that come with such an approach.
Here are the links the other articles I posted on this subject:
- Scientific Regress
- How a Liberal Bias is Killing Science
- How Academia’s Liberal Bias is Killing Social Science
- How Our Botched Understanding of “Science” Ruins Everything
- Why So Many Scientists are Ignorant
- Big Science is Broken
- Why Neil Degrasse Tyson is a Philistine
- Putting Nature on the Rack
- Gödel’s Incompleteness: The #1 Mathematical Breakthrough of the 20th Century
- The 7 Biggest Problems Facing Science, According to 270 Scientists
- The Miracle of Science
- Politics Disguised as Science: When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’
Who needs experiments and proof when your zeal is religious?
On Saturday, leftists around the nation took to the streets to sound off about their new religion: Science™! No, not testable hypotheses and well-constructed experiments. Science™! You know, like gay rights and abortion and global redistributionism and dying polar bears ’n’ stuff.
Leading the charge was eminent scientific revolutionary Bill Nye the Science Guy, a mechanical-engineering-degree holder who got famous as a children’s television presenter. Nye was a keynoter at the March for Science, where he stated, “We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and prosperity.” What sort of science was Nye standing up to defend? Budget increases for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health, of course! He explained how all of this was scientific and not political: “Somewhere along the way, there has developed this idea that if you believe something hard enough, it’s as true as things discovered through the process of science. And I will say that’s objectively wrong.”
Belief isn’t science. This is a good point.
Unfortunately, Nye followed up his widely praised appearance at the March for Science by unleashing a video that destroyed the Internet, from his new show Bill Nye Saves the World. He trotted out Crazy Ex-Girlfriend actress Rachel Bloom to sing a “very special” song (Nye’s words). She warbled:
My vagina has its own voice / Not vocal cords, a metaphorical voice / Sometimes I do a voice for my vagina . . . / ’Cause my sex junk is so oh, oh, oh / Much more than either or, or or / Power bottom or power top / Versatile love may have some butt stuff / It’s evolution, ain’t nothing new / There’s nothing taboo about a sex stew . . . If they’re alive, I’ll date ’em / Channing or Jenna Tatum / I’m down for anything / Don’t box in my box.
If this seems rather unscientific to you — if you wonder why a talking vagina with obvious self-control problems is being trotted out by the self-proclaimed Science Guy — you’re not alone. You’re rational. You might even be using some scientific thinking. But this is demonstrative of the Left’s take on science: Science is actually just the name for anything the Left likes. Worried about the humanity of an unborn child? Concerned that fetuses have their own blood types and their own DNA? Stop it! You’re quoting science, not Science™! Wondering how it is that a genetic male is actually a woman? You’re worrying about science, not Science™!
This is the dirty little secret of the Left’s sudden embrace of Science™ — it’s not science they support, but religion. They support that which they believe but cannot prove and do not care about proving. Bill Nye isn’t interested in a scientific debate about global warming — how much is occurring, the measurement techniques at issue, the sensitivity of the climate to carbon emissions, the range of factors that affect the climate. He wants you to accept his version of the truth — not just that global warming is happening, but that massive government intervention is necessary in order to avert imminent global catastrophe.
Such government solutions aren’t verifiably scientific. They are speculative. But that speculation has costs, particularly to the most impoverished people on the planet, who benefit from cheap carbon-based fuels. Even if you accept the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that sea levels will rise by two feet over the course of the rest of the century and the temperature will rise about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, there is reason to question, as Oren Cass points out, whether or not massive government intervention is necessary or even justifiable.
But the Left refuses to acknowledge such questions. It makes you a “denier” to disagree with the Left’s conclusions, just as it makes you a cruel person to wonder whether gun control will actually lower the American murder rate. Science, in other words, is just a baton for the Left.
A decade ago, the Left declared President Bush anti-science for his restrictions on the use of new federally funded fetal-stem-cell lines. They claimed that Bush hated science, that fetal stem cells were the wave of the future, that Bush was a “moral ayatollah,” in the words of Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa). Democrats ran on the promise that if Bush were thrown out of office in 2004, they’d make Christopher Reeve walk again using fetal stem cells. But it turned out that fetal stem cells were unnecessary to scientific research — scientists came up with an embryo-free process to produce genetically matched stem cells. As Charles Krauthammer, no religious fundamentalist, wrote at the time: “Rarely has a president — so vilified for a moral stance — been so thoroughly vindicated. Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance.”
In other words, Bush didn’t rely on science to give him his values. Nor should he have. Science is incapable of making value-laden decisions. There are plenty of ob-gyns who know better than the most pro-life conservative just how complex life is in the womb, yet they will perform abortions — science hasn’t dictated their behavior. The Nazis were famously pro-science, declaring that science itself mandated the killing of the “unfit” for the strengthening of the race; their racism was supposedly scientific.
That’s why the March for Science is such foolishness. If the march were simply focused on advocacy for increased EPA funding, that would be political, not scientific; if the marchers were demanding more funding for the NIH, that too would be political, but with a stronger scientific component. But the March for Science was actually a march for Science™: The Leftist Religion — and that leftist religion isn’t interested in science in the slightest. It’s simplistic and simple-minded virtue signaling.
By Ben Shapiro in the National Review on April 26, 2017 and can be seen here.