Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Disparaging Non-Science

 The Globe and Mail recently published this piece: that is just a laundry list and quick report that many people are turning to various fashionable pseudo-spiritual thimsgnaes to give more comfort and support that are lacking from their lives. The message is that people are gullible to believe them, and the simplistic answer is, yes, they are gullible and they don't work as advertised because the story suggests a simple causal relationship between events and these ideas. 
  The plaintive question is why are people turning away from Science to this obvious bunk? Because they are foolish and gullible, led astray from the One Path of True Knowledge by fashion? They are falling away from real knowledge is the message here.
  The issue is more subtle than that. People turn to other, non-science-based ideas because Science(TM) became an ersatz religion that demands total adherence to its tenets of materialism and disparages and denigrates all other subjective forms of human experience. Any bizarre facts that it cannot explain get airily dismissed and waved aside. Each fact is treated as a single anomaly, even when there is a statistically significant amount of anomalous events that defy the simple mechanistic cause-and-effect of Newtonian Physics. Yet people experience bizarre events every day. Being disparaged for their own experiences is a surefire way to get their back up and quit listening to someone and start looking around for other answers, even if that person is right and those other answers are bunk.
  Then, in the midst of the demand for absolute trust in Science as the Answer to Everything, the public -- most of whom aren't drawn to be scientists -- out on display are scientific debates and populist science loves to speak in sonorous tones of absolute gravitas about what is 'correct' (at this time). People are told one thing at one time, and the complete opposite at another time. Right now the evidence is that the global climate is warming and the prediction is we are going to have massive ecological disruption. Remember in the 1970s when the Earth was about to enter another global ice age that would cause massive ecological disruption? No? Science boosters are denying that any such discussion ever took place, but the record is out there, and people remember it. So when everything from 'coffee is good for you' to 'coffee is bad for you' to 'no, it's good for you' to 'no, evidence is it's bad for you' gets whiplashed back and forth people stop believing they can be relied upon. All this sounds like the religious disputes of the late Roman Empire.
   Scientists have done themselves no favours by either cautiously hiding away or boldly making pronouncements that are quickly proven wrong.
   Moreover, we have been witness to a long and dreary parade of science papers later shown to be falsified to satisfy the demands of grant money. Corruption is widespread enough that people -- even I -- have a hard time believing what is published. e.g. the GMO crop debate where Monsanto funds studies that says it's utterly safe and wonderfully productive and the EU produces studies that suggest mutagenic effects in rats. Hmm. I'd go for the precautionary principal, but corporations go for the profit now principal and those with money get their pet politicians to do their bidding, or so it appears. Hence one part of the world has government regulators looking to ban GMO crops entirely while the U.S. and Canada ban telling people on packaging whether they are eating GMO products.

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