When ‘Science’ becomes the New Religion, it is time for heresy.
The political masquerade of Scientism is killing science.
One of the greatest inventions of the Enlightenment was ignorance — i.e., the idea that there were some important things worth knowing that could not be found in the canonical texts of the dominant Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) — at least as might be interpreted by the Priests who were the only people capable of reading them.
Without the concept of ignorance, there is no Scientific Revolution. There is no Scientific Method. There is no Science (Firestein 2012).
Although religion and science are both systems of belief, the fundamental distinction between them is the basis for that belief. Science is evidence-based, and thus subject to constant revision and falsification. In contrast, religion is faith-based. That is, religion demands belief in the absence of evidence.
Because there are questions that science cannot and does not attempt to answer, religion and science are complementary systems of belief, although they are often positioned as competitive. In secular societies, such as the United States, the separation of religious beliefs from the institutions of governance necessitates the elevation of science as an alternative system of belief, because in the absence of a system of belief, governance is impossible.
Thus, in times of crisis, when ignorance and uncertainty are at an apex and the citizenry is clamoring for an alleviation of their anxieties, we often hear “We should listen to the scientists!”
Who could object to such a reasonable suggestion?
Except that in such times, there is typically no shortage of scientists willing to abandon the principles of doubt, skepticism, and ignorance on which their profession is founded, and adopt instead the confidence of an idealogue.
Presidential election years are often such times.
For example, several groups of scientists published characteristically un-scientific political endorsements of nominees in the 2020 US Presidential Election. One of them is a group of eighty-one Nobel Laureates who, according to their undated open letter, are all American…