We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When I decided on a scientific career, one of the things that appealed to me about science was the modesty of its practitioners. The typical scientist seemed to be a person who knew one small corner of the natural world and knew it very well, better than most other human beings living and better even than most who had ever lived. But outside of their circumscribed areas of expertise, scientists would hesitate to express an authoritative opinion. This attitude was attractive precisely because it stood in sharp contrast to the arrogance of the philosophers of the positivist tradition, who claimed for science and its practitioners a broad authority with which many practicing scientists themselves were uncomfortable.
The temptation to overreach, however, seems increasingly indulged today in discussions about science. Both in the work of professional philosophers and in popular writings by natural scientists, it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth.
Of all the fads and foibles in the long history of human credulity, scientism in all its varied guises — from fanciful cosmology to evolutionary epistemology and ethics — seems among the more dangerous, both because it pretends to be something very different from what it really is and because it has been accorded widespread and uncritical adherence. Continued insistence on the universal competence of science will serve only to undermine the credibility of science as a whole. The ultimate outcome will be an increase of radical skepticism that questions the ability of science to address even the questions legitimately within its sphere of competence. One longs for a new Enlightenment to puncture the pretensions of this latest superstition.
I taught environmental engineering and science for 37 years at the college and university level. One aspect of science that is not emphasized enough is the degree of fraud that exists.
Perhaps one-fourth or more of faculty have participated in some sort of misconduct, often, admittedly of a minor nature. The worst areas are the biological sciences, especially those related to medicine and the environment. In part, that is because fraud in those areas is hard to detect. As I like to say, "It's so hard, it's easy."
The worst case of fraud that has come to public notice was Robert Gallo's theft and plagiarism of Luc Montagnier's cultures and figures. That fraud was covered up by then Presidents Reagan and Mitterand, an unforgivable act which only exacerbated the fraud and embarrassed the Presidents and France and the USA. To this day, Anthony Fauci, to his enduring shame, is still making excuses for Gallo. Fortunately, the Nobel Prize Committee had the good sense to leave Gallo off the award.
Fraud never occurs in mathematics, and it is extremely rate in physics. The social sciences, of course are pseudosciences like astrology, and the concept of fraud does not apply.
Vox Day jumps all over scientism fairly regularly.
bob, you might like Bethany King's blog, Bad Data, Bad! for discussions about fraud and retractions, as well as the issues about interpretation.
CS Lewis wrote often about the importance of science and the danger of scientism overreach. Michael Aeschliman had a good book on it a decade ago, but I think his best comments are included in the volume edited by John West, The Magician's Twin: CS Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society (I haven't read the newer work, but the writers are good and it looks good on browse)
Assistant VIllage Idiot
"The worst areas are the biological sciences, "
Nope, the worst is "climate science" which is a fraud in its entirety.
Medical and biology are probably tied for second place.
"it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth."
Nothing new there. That was the idea 300 years ago, 200 years ago, finally quashed 100 years (roughly) ago when quantum mechanics, and subatomic particles came to light, and been growing again for at least several decades.
Lewis thought paganism an improvement because the pagan is essential pre-Christian, while the humanist is post-christian. The fun quote was "I doubt that we shall see Parliament opened with the slaughtering of a white bull." But he thought that would be preferred over the current (c. 1947) situation.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
Fraud hard to detect? Fraud that is significant is detected by interested parties following up and when expts replicated, or not. When detected, penalties follow, see Retractionwatch.org Unlike math, biology built on a shifting sand that is the genetic bsis of life...always changing, some results clear while others less dramatic.