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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Scientism


Another example of scientism, from the comix "Non Sequitur." This illustrates why the translation of the term "Science," in the lexicon of some folks, is "Look how much smarter I am than you peasants."

Several points want making:

"vs. Everything else." Does that include haute cuisine, English lit, the Parthenon, history, mathematics, etc.? Everything?

"Answers." Is it really and truly only "answers" that are sought? Might not some folks be seeking insight? Understanding? Wisdom? Or does the whole world want only to be told answers.

"Simple but wrong." Are the two arrows the only options? Might not some answers be simple by right? Others, complex but wrong? How do we classify eugenics or phlogiston or natural selection? The last is eminently simple -- an interesting side-effect of death. Does that mean it's wrong? What about simple but wrong answers in history regarding Galileo, Bruno, Hypatia, or the Library of Alexandria? How does "simple but wrong" square with Ockham's Razor, which urges simplification upon us, or the development of scientific theories based on perfect elastic collisions, point-source gravitation, ideal gasses, etc.?

"Complex but right." Is science about being right or are its theories paradigmatically falsifiable and therefore mooted with the expectation that they will one day be superceded? What about complex conspiracy theories?

Winding road. Is it TOF's aging eyesight, or does that road less traveled still wind up going over the cliff in the distant background?

19 comments:

  1. Ptolemy vs. Copernicus:

    Ptolemy = Very complex scientific consensus for 1500 years, and dead wrong.

    Copernicus = Much, much simpler, and also right.

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    1. A friend corrected me: I thought it was Copernicus who figured out that the planets travel in elliptical orbits around the Sun, but it was Kepler.

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    2. Man, please, don't make an ass of yourself, go read The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown!

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    3. Actually, Copernicus' model, which insisted on pure Platonic circles, had more epicycles - including epicycles on epicycles - than the Ptolemaic model. It was neither simpler nor right.

      Ah, I see you have cottoned on to Kepler.

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  2. So the paradigm expressed by the cartoon is itself simple but wrong. Nice.

    Still the best part of the cartoon is that the end of the science road indeed also leads its followers off the cliff a little further up. And only Theology can give an insight as to what may lie at the bottom.

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    1. "Winding road. Is it TOF's aging eyesight, or does that road less traveled still wind up going over the cliff in the distant background?"

      "Still the best part of the cartoon is that the end of the science road indeed also leads its followers off the cliff a little further up. And only Theology can give an insight as to what may lie at the bottom."

      When one honestly evaluates the logical implications of the worldview in which scientism is grounded, one notices that according to that worldview the end-point of *everything* is the same: non-existence. Now, *if* one were a 'scientiste' (*) and cared to be logically consistent, one would never imagine oneself to be in some way superior for having chosen the "Complex But Right" road, which is to say, having chosen merely the longer way to get to the same non-destination. But then, when was any 'Science!' fetishist ever concerned with being logically consistent?


      (*) 'scientiste' is what I call 'Science!' fetishists, the proponents of scientism; the term is modeled on Miss Piggy's 'artiste'

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  3. "Winding road. Is it TOF's aging eyesight, or does that road less traveled still wind up going over the cliff in the distant background? "
    Looks to me as though it leads to a new horizon.

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    1. All a horizon is, is the edge of a ball of rock, blocking your view.

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  4. Am I the only one who initially interpreted the cartoon as "science" being the road that leads off the cliff? I mean, why do the books on the shelf have to be just science books? They could be books on history, economics, metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, etc. If what is revealed through empirical science is offered as the all-encompassing thing to which all those other bodies of knowledge must be reduced or eliminated (simple but wrong), then I just figured all those people leaping off the cliff where a bunch of Alex Rosenbergs.

    I dunno. Maybe the cartoon ends being a sort of Rorschach test.

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    1. Maybe the cartoon ends being a sort of Rorschach test.

      ends up*

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    2. If only.

      I had a look at the website, and its political leanings are rather obviously shoehorned into some of the strips.

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    3. Non Sequitur's author is famously a political hack and anti-Catholic bigot.

      And his sad attempted attacks on webcomics (they're not made by real cartoonists, don't ya know) were memorably crushed by Penny Arcade's Tycho, with "We too long to chide whipper-snappers and wear comfortable adult diapers."

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    4. That's actually the same way I initally interpreted it too, Jmhenry. I totally agree with your assessment. The rank and file (i.e., those on the "simple but wrong path") represent all the ridiculous people who post about "science" I see popping up in my news feed, turning any love they had for science into, well... scientism. Those reading on theology, metaphysics, etc., and I dare I say even the ACTUAL natural sciences, are the ones following the road less traveled ("complex but right).

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  5. Yeah, I stopped reading the strip decades ago because its leftism (and anti-Chriatianity) was so tedious.

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  6. If by "Everything else" as opposed to "Science" we should logically understand "Non-science, or whatever does not pertain to a scientist"; then we should regard "Cartoonist" as part of "Everything else" (unless Cartoonology exists, correct me if I am wrong).

    The guy would be regarding the "Everything else" as self-blinding fools... Himself included.

    Well, at least he can be praised as being sincere.

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  7. "Are the two arrows the only options? "

    If so, they are simple. And therefore wrong.

    QED

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    1. And then there's how relativity is actually (once you have the grounding in math to understand it) much simpler than Newton, who was in turn simpler than the School of Paris, who were in turn simpler than the Peripatetics.

      And even Peripatetic physics is fundamentally "simpler" than pre-Socratic Greek "physics", which is basically Al-Ghazali's occasionalism with a couple hundred more wholly-arbitrary gods.

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  8. A non sequitur (English pronunciation: /ˌnɒnˈsɛkwɨtər/; Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr] "it does not follow") is a conversational and literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it,[1] seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.

    This use of the term is distinct from the non sequitur in logic, where it is a fallacy.

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    1. Non Sequitur, proper noun, is a bad syndicated comic strip by a largely talentless bigot, both religious and political, Wiley Miller.

      The guy who writes Penny Arcade once said, of Miller (who also hates webcomics), "We too long to chide whipper-snappers and wear comfortable adult diapers." The guy who draws it said "I sort of feel bad for Wiley, I mean it’s not his fault he’s old and doesn’t understand technology. He’s like a doddering old man sitting in his horse and buggy, shaking his liver spot covered fist at passing automobiles." (Which is unusually conciliatory for Gabe, who once responded to an insult from Harlan Ellison by complimenting him on producing good Star Wars tie-in novels.)

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