Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Scientism

It seems to me that about every other person believes in it. It comes up in my comments sections and various blogs like the Panda's Thumb are virtually devoted to scientism. (Proto-Nazis have gotten especially frantic over the Discovery Institute. Makes me feel like contributing to the Institute...) Typically, there is a myopic lack of historical and philosophical perspective at the root of scientism as well as lack of a focus on empirical facts, logic and evidence. Darwinists are the worst example of it.

Yet it is more than that.

Richard Milton notes:
It seems that when it comes to investigating natural phenomena there is a line that some scientists, for some reason, are unwilling to cross. Equally, it seems that there are some individuals, including very distinguished scientists, who are willing to risk the censure and ridicule of their colleagues by stepping over that mark. This book is about those scientists. But, more importantly, it is about the curious social and intellectual forces that seek to prohibit such research; about those areas of scientific research that are taboo subjects: subjects whose discussion is forbidden under pain of ridicule and ostracism.

It is also about what I believe to be a worrying but well-documented social trend; a trend towards a normalised world view based on a singular model that is derived entirely from the reductionist western scientific viewpoint, and the marginalisation and suppression of any form of scientific dissent or alternative world view.

From the examples given earlier you might imagine that I am speaking historically and that, while the ill-informed people of previous centuries fell into the error of rejecting major discoveries from the worlds of electricity and astronomy, no scientist today would react in such an intemperate, unreflecting way about a matter that must be purely a question of fact. Actually, Faraday and Reichenbach would almost certainly have experienced more difficulty not less in making their voices heard in today’s climate of intolerance.

In March 1989, Professor Martin Fleischmann of Southampton University and Professor Stanley Pons of the University of Utah put a new phrase into the scientific lexicon when they jointly announced the discovery of ‘cold fusion’ — the production of usable amounts of energy by what seemed to be a nuclear process occurring in a jar of water at room temperature.

The reaction to the announcement was almost universally hostile. The two were ridiculed by both the popular and the scientific press, especially Nature magazine. Major institutions who had already spent several billion dollars in pursuit of ‘hot’ fusion — notably Harwell and MIT — announced that Fleischmann and Pons’s results could not be reproduced. When it was discovered that MIT had fudged their experimental results (as described in Chapter 3) they merely amended their conclusion from ‘failure to reproduce’ to ‘too insensitive to confirm’. But by that time the damage had been done: cold fusion had been discredited. No more significant research money was to be granted for cold fusion research and the United States patent office still relies on the MIT findings to reject all patent applications involving cold fusion.

This official position remains despite the fact that, at the time of writing, cold fusion reactions have been reproduced by ninety-two major universities and commercial corporations in ten countries around the world including Stanford Research Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Weapons Centre at China Lake, Naval Ocean Systems Centre, Texas A & M University, California Polytechnic Institute and Japan’s Hokkaido and Osaka Universities.

In many ways cold fusion is the perfect paradigm of scientific taboo in action. The high priests of hot fusion were quick to ostracise those whom they saw as profaning the sacred wisdom. And empirical fact counted for nothing in the face of their concerted derision.
(Alternative Science: Challenging
the Myths of the Scientific Establishment
By Richard Milton :5-6)




Unfortunately, those who believe in scientism almost invariably work their way around to getting State funding, using the State to promote their views and censoring away others. For instance, the Darwinists are using the State to indoctrinate impressionable young minds with frauds and utterly absurd mythological narratives of Naturalism.

(If you believe the Darwinism that you learned in college or highschool, then by all means make your case for Evolution. It's a free forum.)

2 comments:

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