Thursday, August 12

Crying Fowl(er) on Science, aka Don't Blame me, Blame Prickliestpear

Reading through Prickliestpear's blog (oh, there is much of wonderment and pondering there. You should go. I'll wait) I came across his analysis/redaction of James Fowler's stages of faith. It is certainly interesting and thought-provoking reading and spurred me on to poke about some more on such things. As I was puttering about last night before bed, it occurred to me the trouble I've had with a long-standing fight. I shall, it take too long, I will sum up.

I was interested in seeing a movie which questioned the mainline scientific consensus on an issue. My 'friend', who is a liberal arts major, was derisive because 'science says'. As someone who has been trained for decades in science, I tried to explain that just because 'science says' doesn't mean that it's right. She became unglued. "But the journals are peer-reviewed!"

It came to me last night why that language caused me such problem.

"But the journals are peer-reviewed!"
"But the Pope/Magesterium is infallible!"
"But the Bible is inerrant!"

This is the Synthetic-Conventional stage of faith at it's most pernicious. As opposed to philosophy or religion, science does not permit one to develop to the 'Individuative-Reflective' stage, where ya scrap all the conformist mainstream stuff and 'DIY' it. Why would I discuss Science as if it were a religion? Because no matter if you are a disinterested lay-person or a dedicated career scientist, at least 99.9% of science is taken entirely on faith.

Due to the specificity of science today, most people in the field accept as a matter of faith that research done in other fields is implicitly 100% valid. Even research in your own special field of expertise is rarely questioned and fact-checking, basic research is vanishingly rare. Thus, present research is based upon earlier research which, quite commonly, is based upon even earlier research. That original science was considered valid 50 years ago and that's good enough.

It has gotten so far away from the roots that, in the hard science of physics, you have an entire discipline which has been touted as 'the way' for at least two generations of scientists which has, as of today, been without experimental verification. Yet, an attempt to publish something substantively outside the accepted viewpoint is to label yourself an anaethma to 'real science'.

For those outside the field, the matter is entirely taken as a matter of faith. There are those who educate themselves in the jargon and attempt to understand the basic principles, but there is no reasonable way for them to even ask the right questions, let alone have access to a means to derive any answers, pro or con.

Science is a conformist, faith-based belief system aping as a universalist, proof-based rational discipline Q.E.D.

At least with other faith-based belief systems, there isn't a pretense.

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