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  • How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything

    Source: The Week


    Here's one certain sign that something is very wrong with our collective mind: Everybody uses a word, but no one is clear on what the word actually means.

    One of those words is "science."

    Everybody uses it. Science says this, science says that. You must vote for me because science. You must buy this because science. You must hate the folks over there because science.

    Look, science is really important. And yet, who among us can easily provide a clear definition of the word "science" that matches the way people employ the term in everyday life?

    So let me explain what science actually is. Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That's the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says "science" is something different.

    To most people, capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It is a thing engaged in by people wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands. The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people.

    In other words and this is the key thing when people say "science", what they really mean is magic or truth.

    A little history: The first proto-scientist was the Greek intellectual Aristotle, who wrote many manuals of his observations of the natural world and who also was the first person to propose a systematic epistemology, i.e., a philosophy of what science is and how people should go about it. Aristotle's definition of science became famous in its Latin translation as: rerum cognoscere causas, or, "knowledge of the ultimate causes of things." For this, you can often see in manuals Aristotle described as the Father of Science.

    The problem with that is that it's absolutely not true. Aristotelian "science" was a major setback for all of human civilization. For Aristotle, science started with empirical investigation and then used theoretical speculation to decide what things are caused by.

    What we now know as the "scientific revolution" was a repudiation of Aristotle: science, not as knowledge of the ultimate causes of things but as the production of reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation.

    Galileo disproved Aristotle's "demonstration" that heavier objects should fall faster than light ones by creating a subtle controlled experiment (contrary to legend, he did not simply drop two objects from the Tower of Pisa). What was so important about this Galileo Moment was not that Galileo was right and Aristotle wrong; what was so important was how Galileo proved Aristotle wrong: through experiment.

    This method of doing science was then formalized by one of the greatest thinkers in history, Francis Bacon. What distinguishes modern science from other forms of knowledge such as philosophy is that it explicitly forsakes abstract reasoning about the ultimate causes of things and instead tests empirical theories through controlled investigation. Science is not the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It's a form of engineering of trial by error. Scientific knowledge is not "true" knowledge, since it is knowledge about only specific empirical propositions which is always, at least in theory, subject to further disproof by further experiment. Many people are surprised to hear this, but the founder of modern science says it. Bacon, who had a career in politics and was an experienced manager, actually wrote that scientists would have to be misled into thinking science is a pursuit of the truth, so that they will be dedicated to their work, even though it is not.

    Why is all this ancient history important? Because science is important, and if we don't know what science actually is, we are going to make mistakes.

    The vast majority of people, including a great many very educated ones, don't actually know what science is.

    If you ask most people what science is, they will give you an answer that looks a lot like Aristotelian "science" i.e., the exact opposite of what modern science actually is. Capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. And science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. It delivers wonders. It has high priests. It has an ideology that must be obeyed.

    This leads us astray. Since most people think math and lab coats equal science, people call economics a science, even though almost nothing in economics is actually derived from controlled experiments. Then people get angry at economists when they don't predict impending financial crises, as if having tenure at a university endowed you with magical powers. Countless academic disciplines have been wrecked by professors' urges to look "more scientific" by, like a cargo cult, adopting the externals of Baconian science (math, impenetrable jargon, peer-reviewed journals) without the substance and hoping it will produce better knowledge.

    Because people don't understand that science is built on experimentation, they don't understand that studies in fields like psychology almost never prove anything, since only replicated experiment proves something and, humans being a very diverse lot, it is very hard to replicate any psychological experiment. This is how you get articles with headlines saying "Study Proves X" one day and "Study Proves the Opposite of X" the next day, each illustrated with stock photography of someone in a lab coat. That gets a lot of people to think that "science" isn't all that it's cracked up to be, since so many studies seem to contradict each other.

    This is how you get people asserting that "science" commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is "scientific" because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. While it is a fact that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads, all else equal, to higher atmospheric temperatures, the idea that we can predict the impact of global warming and anti-global warming policies! 100 years from now is sheer lunacy. But because it is done using math by people with tenure, we are told it is "science" even though by definition it is impossible to run an experiment on the year 2114.

    This is how you get the phenomenon of philistines like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne thinking science has made God irrelevant, even though, by definition, religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them.

    You might think of science advocate, cultural illiterate, mendacious anti-Catholic propagandist, and possible serial fabulist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and anti-vaccine looney-toon Jenny McCarthy as polar opposites on a pro-science/anti-science spectrum, but in reality they are the two sides of the same coin. Both of them think science is like magic, except one of them is part of the religion and the other isn't.

    The point isn't that McCarthy isn't wrong on vaccines. (She is wrong.) The point is that she is the predictable result of a society that has forgotten what "science" means. Because we lump many different things together, there are bits of "science" that aren't actual science that get lumped into society's understanding of what science is. It's very profitable for those who grab some of the social prestige that accrues to science, but it means we live in a state of confusion.

    It also means that for all our bleating about "science" we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our "pro-science" people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science).

    This bizarre misunderstanding of science yields the paradox that even as we expect the impossible from science ("Please, Mr Economist, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what will happen if Obama raises/cuts taxes"), we also have a very anti-scientific mindset in many areas.

    For example, our approach to education is positively obscurantist. Nobody uses rigorous experimentation to determine better methods of education, and someone who would dare to do so would be laughed out of the room. The first and most momentous scientist of education, Maria Montessori, produced an experimentally based, scientific education method that has been largely ignored by our supposedly science-enamored society. We have departments of education at very prestigious universities, and absolutely no science happens at any of them.

    Our approach to public policy is also astonishingly pre-scientific. There have been almost no large-scale truly scientific experiments on public policy since the welfare randomized field trials of the 1990s, and nobody seems to realize how barbaric this is. We have people at Brookings who can run spreadsheets, and Ezra Klein can write about it and say it proves things, we have all the science we need, thank you very much. But that is not science.

    Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven't quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is "expensive" but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are.

    But until we take science for what it really is, which is both more and less than magic, we will still have one foot in the barbaric dark.

    Source

    © Copyright Original Source


    Pretty good take down of "science" falsely so called. This is why we can't have nice things.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jesse View Post
    Source: The Week


    Here's one certain sign that something is very wrong with our collective mind: Everybody uses a word, but no one is clear on what the word actually means.

    One of those words is "science."

    Everybody uses it. Science says this, science says that. You must vote for me because science. You must buy this because science. You must hate the folks over there because science.

    Look, science is really important. And yet, who among us can easily provide a clear definition of the word "science" that matches the way people employ the term in everyday life?

    So let me explain what science actually is. Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That's the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says "science" is something different.

    To most people, capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It is a thing engaged in by people wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands. The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people.

    In other words and this is the key thing when people say "science", what they really mean is magic or truth.

    A little history: The first proto-scientist was the Greek intellectual Aristotle, who wrote many manuals of his observations of the natural world and who also was the first person to propose a systematic epistemology, i.e., a philosophy of what science is and how people should go about it. Aristotle's definition of science became famous in its Latin translation as: rerum cognoscere causas, or, "knowledge of the ultimate causes of things." For this, you can often see in manuals Aristotle described as the Father of Science.

    The problem with that is that it's absolutely not true. Aristotelian "science" was a major setback for all of human civilization. For Aristotle, science started with empirical investigation and then used theoretical speculation to decide what things are caused by.

    What we now know as the "scientific revolution" was a repudiation of Aristotle: science, not as knowledge of the ultimate causes of things but as the production of reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation.

    Galileo disproved Aristotle's "demonstration" that heavier objects should fall faster than light ones by creating a subtle controlled experiment (contrary to legend, he did not simply drop two objects from the Tower of Pisa). What was so important about this Galileo Moment was not that Galileo was right and Aristotle wrong; what was so important was how Galileo proved Aristotle wrong: through experiment.

    This method of doing science was then formalized by one of the greatest thinkers in history, Francis Bacon. What distinguishes modern science from other forms of knowledge such as philosophy is that it explicitly forsakes abstract reasoning about the ultimate causes of things and instead tests empirical theories through controlled investigation. Science is not the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It's a form of engineering of trial by error. Scientific knowledge is not "true" knowledge, since it is knowledge about only specific empirical propositions which is always, at least in theory, subject to further disproof by further experiment. Many people are surprised to hear this, but the founder of modern science says it. Bacon, who had a career in politics and was an experienced manager, actually wrote that scientists would have to be misled into thinking science is a pursuit of the truth, so that they will be dedicated to their work, even though it is not.

    Why is all this ancient history important? Because science is important, and if we don't know what science actually is, we are going to make mistakes.

    The vast majority of people, including a great many very educated ones, don't actually know what science is.

    If you ask most people what science is, they will give you an answer that looks a lot like Aristotelian "science" i.e., the exact opposite of what modern science actually is. Capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. And science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. It delivers wonders. It has high priests. It has an ideology that must be obeyed.

    This leads us astray. Since most people think math and lab coats equal science, people call economics a science, even though almost nothing in economics is actually derived from controlled experiments. Then people get angry at economists when they don't predict impending financial crises, as if having tenure at a university endowed you with magical powers. Countless academic disciplines have been wrecked by professors' urges to look "more scientific" by, like a cargo cult, adopting the externals of Baconian science (math, impenetrable jargon, peer-reviewed journals) without the substance and hoping it will produce better knowledge.

    Because people don't understand that science is built on experimentation, they don't understand that studies in fields like psychology almost never prove anything, since only replicated experiment proves something and, humans being a very diverse lot, it is very hard to replicate any psychological experiment. This is how you get articles with headlines saying "Study Proves X" one day and "Study Proves the Opposite of X" the next day, each illustrated with stock photography of someone in a lab coat. That gets a lot of people to think that "science" isn't all that it's cracked up to be, since so many studies seem to contradict each other.

    This is how you get people asserting that "science" commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is "scientific" because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. While it is a fact that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads, all else equal, to higher atmospheric temperatures, the idea that we can predict the impact of global warming and anti-global warming policies! 100 years from now is sheer lunacy. But because it is done using math by people with tenure, we are told it is "science" even though by definition it is impossible to run an experiment on the year 2114.

    This is how you get the phenomenon of philistines like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne thinking science has made God irrelevant, even though, by definition, religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them.

    You might think of science advocate, cultural illiterate, mendacious anti-Catholic propagandist, and possible serial fabulist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and anti-vaccine looney-toon Jenny McCarthy as polar opposites on a pro-science/anti-science spectrum, but in reality they are the two sides of the same coin. Both of them think science is like magic, except one of them is part of the religion and the other isn't.

    The point isn't that McCarthy isn't wrong on vaccines. (She is wrong.) The point is that she is the predictable result of a society that has forgotten what "science" means. Because we lump many different things together, there are bits of "science" that aren't actual science that get lumped into society's understanding of what science is. It's very profitable for those who grab some of the social prestige that accrues to science, but it means we live in a state of confusion.

    It also means that for all our bleating about "science" we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our "pro-science" people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science).

    This bizarre misunderstanding of science yields the paradox that even as we expect the impossible from science ("Please, Mr Economist, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what will happen if Obama raises/cuts taxes"), we also have a very anti-scientific mindset in many areas.

    For example, our approach to education is positively obscurantist. Nobody uses rigorous experimentation to determine better methods of education, and someone who would dare to do so would be laughed out of the room. The first and most momentous scientist of education, Maria Montessori, produced an experimentally based, scientific education method that has been largely ignored by our supposedly science-enamored society. We have departments of education at very prestigious universities, and absolutely no science happens at any of them.

    Our approach to public policy is also astonishingly pre-scientific. There have been almost no large-scale truly scientific experiments on public policy since the welfare randomized field trials of the 1990s, and nobody seems to realize how barbaric this is. We have people at Brookings who can run spreadsheets, and Ezra Klein can write about it and say it proves things, we have all the science we need, thank you very much. But that is not science.

    Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven't quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is "expensive" but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are.

    But until we take science for what it really is, which is both more and less than magic, we will still have one foot in the barbaric dark.

    Source

    © Copyright Original Source


    Pretty good take down of "science" falsely so called. This is why we can't have nice things.
    I can't figure out if you think this is on the mark or off the mark.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by whag View Post
      I can't figure out if you think this is on the mark or off the mark.
      I think it is on the mark .
      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jesse View Post
        I think it is on the mark .
        I'm not sure what author means by science is religion. He uses extreme examples of Dawkins, when all he had to do was look at Francis Collins or any other theistic evolutionist.

        The author didn't take down anything but specific, easily assailable targets like the new atheists, which is fine but has been done to death. And Neal Degrasse Tyson doesn't think science is "magic." He uses that metaphor to help you see that science isn't boring guesswork but exciting as magic. The epistemology inherent in science gives you permission to accept exciting, wild findings because that information is reliable. That you typed your anti-science OP on a slab of circuitry should hammer that point home. Are you only for the science that heals you and provides you comfort and entertainment?


        This point is laughable:

        "Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven't quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is "expensive" but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are."

        Science made its vast gains because it's grounded in methodologies that enforce epistemic humility and reject "bombast."

        Comment


        • #5
          Funny, when one scientist said this:


          Originally posted by Richard P. Dickerson
          Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:


          Rule No. 1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.

          Operational science takes no position about the existence or non-existence of the supernatural; only that this factor is not to be invoked in scientific explanations. Calling down special-purpose miracles as explanations constitutes a form of intellectual "cheating." A chess player is perfectly capable of removing his opponent's king physically from the board and smashing it in the midst of a tournament. But this would not make him a chess champion, because the rules had not been followed. A runner may be tempted to take a short-cut across the infield of an oval track in order to cross the finish line ahead of his faster colleague. But he refrains from doing so, as this would not constitute "winning" under the rules of the sport.
          Michael Behe, quite rightly I might add, said this in response:

          Originally posted by Darwin's Black Box
          Certainly the taxpayers who fund science to the tune of several tens of billions of dollars a year would be surprised. They probably think they’re spending their money to find cures and treatments for cancer, AIDS, and heart disease. Citizens concerned about diseases they have or may acquire in old age want science to be able to cure the disease, not to play a game that has no bearing on reality.
          Both positions, to my mind, seem to be products of a much earlier, more civilized, and more generally trusting time. Even the hardest of hard sciences have been corrupted by careerism today.

          The credited Dark Enlightenment view on this issue is simple enough and easily explained with concrete examples:

          Originally posted by Mencius Moldbug
          Fedco's approach to research bears some resemblance to that of the large, and often slightly Fedco-like, software-hardware corporations that have dominated the industry for quite some time. Typically these outfits employ large numbers of researchers, at places like Microsoft Research, Sun Labs, etc. And these researchers, who are PhD types from academia, receive some mild encouragement toward productive directions, but of course have actual rank and can't simply be told what to do, as if they were mere employees. For the most part (although with some exceptions), these corporate research arms, which are basically run as a tax writeoff and general prestige farm, are simply sponsoring these scientists' academic careers in a way that provides less status than working at a research university, but does not involve the onerous and degrading T-word.

          The result is that the researchers wind up managing themselves. And one of the things I learned after I said my goodbyes to the whale is that, again contrary to popular belief, there is this thing called management and it's actually necessary. There are individuals who can be productive without active management, but there are no organizations that can. And when basic research is treated as a self-managing organization, you will get unproductive basic research. If you were previously unaware that there was any such thing, I'm sorry to have to break it.

          Most managers are easy for a scientist to scam, in precisely the manner described above. It's a case of what economists call "asymmetrical information," and the result is that your research program is simply producing status and credibility for the scientist, who is in the business of demonstrating his intelligence, as if he was in the sixth grade. It takes a really talented manager - General Groves is the all-time great example - to get an organization of super-smart people to work together on a real problem. (It is worth noting that the Manhattan Project's personnel were veterans not of Federal science, but of course of prewar science, a system under which the profession of "grantwriter" was, I believe, unknown.)
          The article does suffer from the delusions of democracy: that the best way to clear out an entrenched intellectual oligarchy is to take your case to the people, rather than the King. The oligarchy is designed to control the democracy, that's what it was both created and evolved to do. One man in power, though, can destroy the oligarchy for all time, because the oligarchy can only rule over those who actively trust them by default, or who have no other choice. If this article was sent in letter form to a Washington director of finance for scientific education, I could at least conclude that the author was both serious and effective about his goals.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by whag View Post
            I'm not sure what author means by science is religion. He uses extreme examples of Dawkins, when all he had to do was look at Francis Collins or any other theistic evolutionist.

            The author didn't take down anything but specific, easily assailable targets like the new atheists, which is fine but has been done to death. And Neal Degrasse Tyson doesn't think science is "magic." He uses that metaphor to help you see that science isn't boring guesswork but exciting as magic. The epistemology inherent in science gives you permission to accept exciting, wild findings because that information is reliable. That you typed your anti-science OP on a slab of circuitry should hammer that point home. Are you only for the science that heals you and provides you comfort and entertainment?


            This point is laughable:

            "Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven't quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is "expensive" but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are."

            Science made its vast gains because it's grounded in methodologies that enforce epistemic humility and reject "bombast."
            I think you are overlooking his general point. We as a society have become so far removed in understanding the scientific method, almost anything now can be labeled as "science" or "scientific". His problem with Tyson is stated well before his problem with the word "magic". For as much as Tyson wants to be seen as a scientist, his grasp of basic facts is appalling. And that is the major problem. Within the scientific community itself, it is becoming apparent that they are starting to play very loose with facts and the scientific method as a whole. He has a problem with that. Most people should.
            "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jesse View Post
              I think you are overlooking his general point. We as a society have become so far removed in understanding the scientific method, almost anything now can be labeled as "science" or "scientific". His problem with Tyson is stated well before his problem with the word "magic". For as much as Tyson wants to be seen as a scientist, his grasp of basic facts is appalling. And that is the major problem. Within the scientific community itself, it is becoming apparent that they are starting to play very loose with facts and the scientific method as a whole. He has a problem with that. Most people should.
              When did society start misunderstanding the scientific method? I wasn't aware it had a grasp of it and then lost it at some point.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by whag View Post
                When did society start misunderstanding the scientific method? I wasn't aware it had a grasp of it and then lost it at some point.
                Heh. I will concede to your point that society now has very little understanding. But it wasn't always this scientifically illiterate. People really have gotten dumber. The problem is, now it is seeping into the scientific community, the community that should know better. That really is the crux of the problem.
                "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jesse View Post
                  Heh. I will concede to your point that society now has very little understanding. But it wasn't always this scientifically illiterate. People really have gotten dumber. The problem is, now it is seeping into the scientific community, the community that should know better. That really is the crux of the problem.
                  Society never had a quantifiable grasp of science and certainly was never "scientifically literate" at any point.

                  I get the distinct impression you disagree with specific scientific conclusions. Please be clearer about what you disagree with and what society has to do with it. Is science's grasp of electromagnetism wrong? Is hydrology a tissue of lies?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jesse View Post
                    Heh. I will concede to your point that society now has very little understanding.
                    What society? Which parts? Where is your control and experimental group?

                    But it wasn't always this scientifically illiterate.
                    What variables have changed? How have they changed?

                    People really have gotten dumber.
                    Which people have gotten dumber? Which race, culture, ethnicity, and tradition have they came from? What social movements did they follow? Were they in positions of power before? Did you test their IQs when they signed up, or did you just test their adherence to atheist/leftist philosophy like an kid deciding who got to be in the Kool Kidz Klub?

                    The problem is, now it is seeping into the scientific community, the community that should know better. That really is the crux of the problem.
                    That which is unsayable eventually becomes unthinkable. Did you really think that you could toss a bunch of low-IQ Third World people into America, browbeat the common people into accepting them Because Diversity Is Our Strength, and then not expect Holy Science to regress to the mean the way everything else did?

                    I could have told you as much as this article did because I read people who say things like this:

                    Originally posted by Mencius Moldbug
                    The 21st-century American university is a pathologist's dream. But surely among its most revolting terminal diseases is a near-complete absence of any genuine intellectual hostility.

                    The T-cells are depleted. The bone marrow is exhausted. The mind's immune system is almost done. Exotic cancers and weird infections sprout like desert flowers. Gray berries hang from the liver; Spanish moss burgeons in the lungs. And people believe anything.

                    If we look at what academia is, rather than what it purports to be or what it once was, the cause of this immune degeneration is obvious. Academia is a guild of talented and ambitious professionals who, by demonstrating their large and dextrous brains - not to mention their impeccable networking skills, and their infinite patience with the brown product of the cow - extract money, power, and/or status from USG. Need more be said?

                    For obvious professional reasons, this structure precludes any genuinely adversarial peer review. Guild solidarity wins. Research empires may play at war, but it's always easy for both sides to agree that both approaches deserve funding. This is mock battle, like the clash of rutting stags. Nature green in tooth and claw. (Unless there's an actual interloper trying to horn in on the stream - in which case you'll see the real claws.)

                    So as soon as you arrive at grad school, you'll discover that no mileage whatsoever is to be attained by actually attacking the half-baked ideas of your peers. Proper career strategy is to build coalitions - not tear them down. Actual, rigorous, adversarial science still exists in a few nooks and crannies. The tradition is remembered. But it is by far the exception.
                    2009, long before your guy worked up the courage to say a neutered version of that in a public setting. And my guy actually gets to the root of the problem. And don't thank me all at once for linking this guy in probably one out of every three of my posts, you're already welcome for taking the first step towards (dark) enlightenment.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by whag View Post
                      Society never had a quantifiable grasp of science and certainly was never "scientifically literate" at any point.

                      I get the distinct impression you disagree with specific scientific conclusions. Please be clearer about what you disagree with and what society has to do with it. Is science's grasp of electromagnetism wrong? Is hydrology a tissue of lies?
                      This is an example of what I am talking about. It's not just science that people are becoming more illiterate on. It seems to be becoming a problem in a wide spectrum of things. The reason for it in my belief is because we are too flippant today with the information we receive. We no longer respect facts, so we become care less with them. Much more care less than we used to be. Go take a look at a few studies that have been done on literacy (scientific and otherwise) and you will see a clear decline from the past.

                      I am not sure why you think I am disagreeing with a particular scientific field or theory. I am however, talking about the amount of fraud going in the peer review process. Those are the things the author and I are alluding too.

                      You might not see this as a problem like some of us do. But if science is to be trusted, it needs to get back to a higher standard than what we are getting from pop science "celebrities".
                      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Epoetker View Post
                        What society? Which parts? Where is your control and experimental group?



                        What variables have changed? How have they changed?



                        Which people have gotten dumber? Which race, culture, ethnicity, and tradition have they came from? What social movements did they follow? Were they in positions of power before? Did you test their IQs when they signed up, or did you just test their adherence to atheist/leftist philosophy like an kid deciding who got to be in the Kool Kidz Klub?



                        That which is unsayable eventually becomes unthinkable. Did you really think that you could toss a bunch of low-IQ Third World people into America, browbeat the common people into accepting them Because Diversity Is Our Strength, and then not expect Holy Science to regress to the mean the way everything else did?

                        I could have told you as much as this article did because I read people who say things like this:



                        2009, long before your guy worked up the courage to say a neutered version of that in a public setting. And my guy actually gets to the root of the problem. And don't thank me all at once for linking this guy in probably one out of every three of my posts, you're already welcome for taking the first step towards (dark) enlightenment.
                        Neither one of "our" guys were the first to bring this up. Nor does it matter who said what first. It just now needs to be said more than ever before. Which "people" have gotten dumber? How about almost everyone in modern culture? I know you want to start dividing this down ethnic lines (seems to be your default position on everything), but scientific illiteracy doesn't seem to care much about the color of your skin or where you were born.
                        Last edited by Jesse; 09-20-2014, 11:49 PM.
                        "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Prepare for all the adversarial science you can handle

                          Originally posted by Jesse View Post
                          Neither one of "our" guys were the first to bring this up.
                          That's because neither one of your guys valued the public understanding of science more than they valued the public content of their resume, therefore they bring up these issues only when they feel it is safe to do so, ie:

                          1. Science has gotten so terrible that people are finally listening.
                          2. Science has gotten so irrelevant that people have stopped listening to what scientists are actually saying, and you can therefore be brave with little expectation of professional consequence.

                          Nor does it matter who said what first.
                          It most certainly does matter who said it first and loudest, especially when dealing with public opinion and public understanding, not to mention one's personal judgment on whether these thinkers and writers are worth following or whether they'll flake at the first sign of trouble. If they suffer from any delusion that they were the first people to say this, that's a very large black mark against them, for they who will not educate themselves on both the scientific findings of times past and the social attitudes that made those findings possible are going to be unable to lead us into the future, by definition.

                          It just now needs to be said more than ever before. Which "people" have gotten dumber? How about almost everyone in modern culture?
                          Did you come here to describe reality in the most scientific and rigorous way your particular intelligence is capable of, or are you just wasting my time? Do you have actual data to back it up? What publicly available data would you point to to support that assertion? I know what I'd link, but what would you link? Would you use the term "dysgenic", "dyscultural", or "dysfunctional" to explain the majority of the change?

                          I know you want to start dividing this down ethnic lines (seems to be your default position on everything), but scientific illiteracy doesn't seem to care much about the color of your skin or where you were born.
                          Utter nonsense, of course, since it really, really, does, if this map of scientific collaborations is anything to go by.

                          So, Jesse, are you going to actually engage with the question, or have you about reached the limit of your intellectual capacity to engage in proper adversarial science already?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Epoetker View Post
                            Prepare for all the adversarial science you can handle



                            That's because neither one of your guys valued the public understanding of science more than they valued the public content of their resume, therefore they bring up these issues only when they feel it is safe to do so, ie:

                            1. Science has gotten so terrible that people are finally listening.
                            2. Science has gotten so irrelevant that people have stopped listening to what scientists are actually saying, and you can therefore be brave with little expectation of professional consequence.



                            It most certainly does matter who said it first and loudest, especially when dealing with public opinion and public understanding, not to mention one's personal judgment on whether these thinkers and writers are worth following or whether they'll flake at the first sign of trouble. If they suffer from any delusion that they were the first people to say this, that's a very large black mark against them, for they who will not educate themselves on both the scientific findings of times past and the social attitudes that made those findings possible are going to be unable to lead us into the future, by definition.



                            Did you come here to describe reality in the most scientific and rigorous way your particular intelligence is capable of, or are you just wasting my time? Do you have actual data to back it up? What publicly available data would you point to to support that assertion? I know what I'd link, but what would you link? Would you use the term "dysgenic", "dyscultural", or "dysfunctional" to explain the majority of the change?



                            Utter nonsense, of course, since it really, really, does, if this map of scientific collaborations is anything to go by.

                            So, Jesse, are you going to actually engage with the question, or have you about reached the limit of your intellectual capacity to engage in proper adversarial science already?
                            It's usually the way humans work. We normally don't point out major problems until, you know, they become major problems. But I shouldn't have to explain that to you.

                            I don't really care who says it. As long as someone with some seriousness and substance recognizes it.

                            Well, I did make this entire post just to waste your time Epoetker. But then I thought maybe I should drag it out a bit longer and give you a link of what I am talking about. Genetically we are all getting weaker and dumber. Proof of this is your post claiming "adversarial science" without you using any actual science. And as with the rest of humanity, it seems to be ramping up.

                            I really try not to engage with you because, well, it's just not worth it unless I am as bored as I am right now. Give yourself a pat on the back for being able to entertain me for a while.
                            "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

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