Wesley Smith on Scientism and The Magician's Twin
Our Discovery Institute colleague and friend Wesley Smith is reading John West's The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society. Writing at his National Review Online blog, Wesley reports an outstanding example of scientism -- "of how scientism seeps into so much that portrays itself as purely scientific." It is:
an article by Keith Kloor, published at the Discover site, which touts itself as "The magazine of science, technology, and the future. And it's the very first paragraph! From "Why Facts Don't Matter:"In a perfect world, every conversation we have about childhood vaccines, GMOs, alternative medicine, and global warming would be based on a set of facts agreed on by a majority of scientists working in those spheres. But we don't live in a perfect world, so many conversations on the aforementioned subjects are often driven by emotion, ideology and politics.Are you kidding me? Science is an extremely powerful method of obtaining and applying facts and knowledge. But science, per se, is amoral. It needs the checks and balances of morals, ethics, and yes political regulation, to keep it on a benign path-and they should definitely be part of every conversation. I mean, good grief, eugenics was considered proper by "a majority of scientists" at one time.
Moreover, the current Science Establishment -- as opposed to bench scientists -- come at most issues from a pronounced ideological viewpoint, tending toward the politically liberal and philosophically utilitarian. It is just pretense to argue otherwise.
Kloor's prime gripes are about how many people don't listen to "the scientists" about GMOs and global warming. But those issues involve more than naked science. They also deeply involve values, proper policy balancing, and indeed, legitimate scientific heterodox thinking.
In The Magician's Twin, Dr. West defines scientism as
the wrongheaded belief that modern science supplies the only reliable method of knowledge about the world, and the corollary that scientists have the right to dictate a society's morals, religious beliefs, and even government policies merely because of their scientific expertise.Go over to NRO and read the rest.