Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Manufacturing Doubt

There is a very good article in Slate about politicisation of scientific research, something which is becoming more and more common, specially in the US.

I am myself a passionate Science partisan but I am dismayed by the way these scientific "experts" have become authority figures when it comes to policy making, which is what is at the root of the problem. It has certainly nothing to do with science - it is instead scientism, a vulgar and discredited ideology which puts scientific conclusions above normative and ethical judgments. With traditional, "hard" sciences (yes that includes Darwinian theory too) it is even okay, since the methodological issues and basic assumptions are pretty much settled but what about fields like global warming or the kind of research which tries to prove that women can't do math or some crap like that? These experts then tell us and the government what should be done!

On a somewhat related note, there are two excellent and somewhat introductory columns by Stanley Fish in the new york times (part two here) about the influence of French philosophy which (among other things) questioned the basic assumptions underlying the scientific worldview.

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