Science vs. Scientism

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  1. thought or expression regarded as characteristic of scientists.
    • excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.


Or as Wikipedia explains it:

Scientism is the ideology of science. The term scientism generally points to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.


I believe we are a world awash in scientism.  The pace of scientific advance has been nothing short of amazing for the last 70 years.  Yet the claims and braggadocio of scientists have so completely and utterly outpaced the science itself that an entire generation of youth believe quite literally that any thing that claims to be scientific must therefore be true. Now the supposed “heros” of science, such as Stephen Hawking, can write about any untestable and unprovable topic as though they are authorities.  Their opinions on the origin of the universe are assumed to be more authoritative than God’s Holy Word.

As Massimo Pigliucci , the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, writes in the Blog of the APA, “there is a pernicious and increasingly influential strand of thought these days — normally referred to as “scientism” — which is not only a threat to every other discipline, including philosophy, but risks undermining the credibility of science itself.”

Scientism is not science.  It is an ideology.  It is a belief.  Scientism is the illegitimate offspring of pop culture and science, with characteristics reflecting vastly more media sensationalism than lab or research procedures. Some would even say it is a religion.  But it is absolutely NOT a proper foundation for assessing things like ethics, morals, or the worth of life itself.  Scientism is to science as Judas was to the disciples. It is a meaningless belief in the public show of science without a fundamental humble appreciation for the absolutely amazing and marvelous scientific laws that govern the universe, the atom, and all of life itself.

In a sense, Scientism is self-annihilating.  It takes the view that only scientific claims are meaningful, but that is not itself a scientific claim. It can neither be verified nor falsified by any scientific testing or reasoning.  Thus, Scientism is either false or meaningless based on its own views.  Yet its influence over generations of youth and young adults remains unchallenged.

Austin L Hughes,  Carolina Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina, in his superb article The Folly of Scientism, writes, “Of all the fads and foibles in the long history of human credulity, scientism in all its varied guises — from fanciful cosmology to evolutionary epistemology and ethics — seems among the more dangerous, both because it pretends to be something very different from what it really is and because it has been accorded widespread and uncritical adherence.“(2) Hughes rightly points out that what is so dangerous about scientism is that its practitioners pretend to be scientific, and imbue their writing with pseudo-scientific jargon designed to impress the masses.  But in reality they are less than scientists, less than philosophers, and less than ethicists and epistemologists. They ignore the six rules of scientific study (see my earlier blog on Unethicalists) and bypass the internal and necessary rules of all these disciplines while pretending they have the answers from science.

Practitioners of scientism, like Stephen Hawking, propose grand theories without any proof.  They cling to evolution and the Big Bang as if it is their very life force.  They discard all facts which disagree with their fanatical evolutionary religiosity, and continue to propagate myths, such as the evolutionary tree, abiogenesis, and the infamous “magic” of the cosmological Big Bang.

So, from one scientist to another, and to all of my readers, it would be wise to learn the meaning and practice of real science (the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment), and how that contrasts to scientism. They could scarcely be more different concepts.

For a great read on scientism, please see the article below on the website





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Emergency Room Physician. Student of science and student of scripture. Defending truth in a post-truth society. I believe that Truth exists, and I believe it is our duty and privilege to seek it out, amidst ignorance, frivolity, and misconceptions.

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