Thursday, February 12, 2015

Loss of Faith in Science?

Full Disclosure:  I earn a living doing scientific and engineering software development, thus, I have a direct financial interest in this topic.

The San Jose Mercury News has this editorial: "Scientists must solve growing trust problem."  I don't believe in the existence of these mythological beings called "scientists", but there seems to have been a convention where thousands of people dressed up for SCIENCE-CON, which is a bit like COMIC-CON (TM), except that the costumes are different.

Anyway, they are worried about the loss of faith trust in science.  No, this really isn't a joke.  The country that has been indoctrinated more than any other on the conflict between faith and science now has "scientists" worrying about the lack of "trust", which is a synonym for faith.

Setting this aside, the intellectualoids really are facing a new problem.  Conservatives have been the main doubters over the past 150 years, but the general response to conservative doubts has been to vastly increase the funding.  The most infamous was that of the fetal stem cell ban that conservatives tried to enforce, since it involved aborted fetuses.  The Dr. Frankensteins took this and whipped up hysteria about the anti-science freaks.  Eventually this landed them billions of taxpayer funds.

The problem now is that big science means big pharmacy, big medicine, big agriculture, and big chemicals for food substitutes.  This has the left's voter base freaking out, which is a completely different dynamic than upsetting conservatives.  Then there is the more basic leftists moral and justice concerns about a professor earning $250,000 per year doing taxpayer subsidized R&D for a rapacious multi-national corporation when there are poor people going to bed every day who didn't get to smoke some marijuana that day.  And why is the government not working harder to increase the production and purity of hallucinogens?

Of course the "scientists" weren't bothered at all from the 60's through the 90's as this same class of people bought their magic crystals and went into new age spirituality.  But now this is costing real money, and the SCIENCE-CON gurus have noted a 10% drop in science funding over the last 6 years, in spite of the fact that we have a pro-science president.

I won't pass any judgment on this.  It is just fun to sit back and note the various strains of cognitive dissonance that flow through our society.


Rummuser said...

As a parallel development, Economists too are facing ridicule and are unable to answer questions about the validity of their profession!

Looney said...

There is only one candidate for a Philosophy of Science in our age. This is Karl Popper's Theory of Falsification, which was originally developed to counter the claims of Communists that theirs is a science. In the end, the intellectual community rejected all philosophy of science candidates, because there was too much dear to them that would have needed to be rejected.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

Well, well, well...who knew, right?
But this concern hasn't reached all scientists around the world; as in Europe and in Latin America many still believe to be gods. Their time will come though.

I agree with Rummy, economists face the same problem as they are unable to adapt to the new times and come up with new solutions to present problems.

Ah, the world is shifting; doesn't it feel good?


Looney said...


There is a certain schadenfreude to me as the post-modern era takes hold where people deny the utility of reason and conclude that there is no distinction between true and false. This comes as the inevitable response two centuries of intellectual malpractice, so yes, it does feel good!