Friday, January 27, 2017

Silly Scientists Don't Know From Science

Of course, the very idea of a Scientists' March on Washington is an oxymoron. Science doesn't care about politics; it says, with Galileo, Eppur si muove, and yet it moves, whatever you political and religious chaps say. These scientists are like the officials of the physicists' union in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty."

The brilliance of that statement never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, I decided to take a look at the website of the Scientists' March on Washington. Because I reckoned that, being silly liberals, they were bound to have bollixed things up. And I was right.

There are only three paragraphs on the website. But what a bunch of baloney.
Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. 
Er, no. The modern research university was invented by the Prussians in the Napoleonic Era. The idea was to strengthen the state, to use and develop knowledge to make the German lands strong enough to end the hegemony of France. Ever since, science has been a creature of the state, and scientists have ever been willing to spend taxpayers' money on whatever the ruling class wanted. Bombs and airplanes to help the state fight its wars? No problem. Social sciences to help the government regulate and control the populace? No problem. Dodgy computer models to assist the global ruling class in its climate change hysteria? Yes, siree.

When you sign up with the devil, scientists, you have to dance to the devil's tune. But you would know that; you are scientists.

Here's another beauty:
There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives.  The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action.
Oh dear, oh dear. Ain't you scientists ever read (or heard about) David Hume? That philosopher argued that we cannot know cause and effect; we can only know correlations. You can never say that "this" caused "that." Because Hume.

We do not know that the Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. We have a) a temperature record going back about a century and a half that tells us that the Earth is warmer now that it was then, and we have b) a theory that the increase in temperature is due to the increase in so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and water vapor. That is all. The temperature record may or may not be accurate. The theory may or may not be valid. Period. That is all that science can say; all the rest is politics.

Here's another one:
The diversity of life arose by evolution. 
Don't you scientist chaps realize that a statement like that is equivalent to the statement that God made the world in seven days, or that the Universe started with the Big Bang. All three statements are creation myths. They are not science. But they are very useful ways of making a statement about what we believe life, the universe, and everything to be, to summarize the Story So Far.

For my money the two things to remember are these:

First, science is a social endeavor. There is a community of scientists, as argued by Thomas H. Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. And the community tends to enforce the current model of how the world works. Just like right now where you better not raise your head in the scientific community if you have a problem with climate science as practiced by the scientific establishment. Not if you know what is good for you and your career in science.

Instead, Kuhn argued that science was a battle between normal science and revolutionary science. La Wik:
Normal scientific progress was viewed as "development-by-accumulation" of accepted facts and theories. Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of such conceptual continuity in normal science were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science.
We have come to call these periods of interruption the "paradigm shift." So the fact that 97 percent of scientist believe in climate change and that activists declare climate skeptics as "deniers" means nothing. The question is: does the current "normal science" of climate change do the job of predicting what is going on? The fact is that the community of normal scientists will go on practicing the normal science that believes in the notion of global warming by greenhouse gases until the paradigm is overturned by another theory.

All this goes back to the basic claim of Immanuel Kant, who responded to Hume's skepticism with a new view of science and knowledge. Kant argued that we only know sense impressions; we cannot know things-in-themselves. What we do is process the sense impressions to construct a world view that makes sense of the sense impressions, and is good enough to be a basis for successful action in the world.

This may seem limiting and a cop-out. I believe that the opposite is true, because once you say we don't know what lies behind it all then you have prepared your mind to think innovative thoughts, such as the idea that space is curved, and that the microscopic world is strange thing of wave-like quanta.

The marching scientists are still stuck in the Enlightenment paradigm that reason is all. But they have never read lefties Horkheimer and Adorno and their Dialectic of Enlightenment. These two lefty rich kids understood that reason is domination, not enlightenment. As I have wriitten:
Instrumental reason, the Enlightenment, write Horkheimer and Adorno, is a dance of domination, domination over nature and domination over man. "What men want to learn from nature is how to dominate it and other men."
Today's dance of domination is an argument about whether we men want to dominate nature or dominate each other, or both. As Lenin said: Who Whom, or кто кого.

But I get the rage of the scientists. Here is Donald Trump giving them a cold that is like to ruin their filibuster. How dare, how dare the American people elect a man like that to be President of the United States!

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