An archived post from an anonymous message board
Science, formally known as natural philosophy, is a branch of philosophy. It always has been, and it always will be. What we mean when we refer to science is that it is the realm of investigation that seeks truth in the empirical realm: that which we know through our senses. This is a posteriori knowledge meaning that it comes from an external source, rather than a priori knowledge which originates from within. What a lot of people don’t seem to understand today is the vast numbers of assumptions one has to make to assume that this is at all any way to make any definite claims of truth. As philosophers have contemplated since the days of Plato, we can never be sure that we observe the material world as it is, in fact most philosophers would argue that we don’t and even modern science would agree. Ultimately, the best science can hope for in terms of confirmation is that other people perceive things in a similar enough way to you that you can come to the conclusion that it is indeed something along those lines. Of course, this all falls apart when you meet someone with a completely dissimilar perspective of the world, such as a native tribe somewhere who still sees the world through the lens of their spirituality, or when you consider that you might not be accurately perceiving your interactions with other people.
Now, getting back to my fuming anger, I really can’t stand the way in which the foundational knowledge that science rests upon is completely dismissed today by these ignorant, indoctrinated imbeciles. You tell me to learn “some scientific method”? Christ almighty, how many scientific methods are there now? I learnt about THE scientific method at uni, sure. The one where you follow an endless cycle of observation, hypothesis and testing, right? It never ceases to amaze me when scientists claim over and over that science has proven something or that something is a matter of scientific fact. There is no such thing as fact in science because your method doesn’t allow it. Now this is often cited as the saving grace of the scientific method, but obviously things aren’t as noble and humble as that. You even claim that the word theory has a new meaning when used by a scientist, that it pretty much means fact for all intents and purposes. This is nothing but a devious means of falsely inflating the claims made by scientists while also allowing them an out when their theories are once again shown to be false.
I have demonstrated some of the fallacies of the scientific theory before, but why not get them out there again.
1) The requirement of the falsifiability of your theory sounds good – in theory – but it’s a completely backwards approach to proving something. In philosophy we use logic and reason to PROVE our point. If your reasoning is flawed, someone will call you out on it and your theory will be discredited. If your reasoning is sound, then you have proven your point and you can move on to something else. In science, instead of proving anything you’re meant to come up with ways in which it could be proven wrong and then proving that these are in fact wrong. In philosophy we refer to this as a logical fallacy and we call it a strawman argument.
2) No inventor has ever used the scientific method. In fact invention uses a reversed method of investigation that on the whole makes a hell of a lot more sense than your backwards approach. Let me demonstrate. The inventor:
- Makes observations about the world
- Forms a hypothesis about how they might improve something to make it more efficient
- Tests their hypothesis
- If they succeed, hypothesis proven. If they fail, back to the drawing board.
As you can see, invention is about proving theories by testing them in reality and measuring the results. Science cannot compete with this approach.
3) Science relies on “facts”, which is a nonsense word as I will demonstrate. Science has long been at odds with the humanities, which include subjects like philosophy, anthropology and history, claiming that they’re not as factually sound. But what exactly is a scientific fact? When we say scientific fact we are referring to the observations or data that a scientist has written in a paper and had published by a reputable scientific journal. That’s it. Nothing else really qualifies in science. The humanities are somewhat similar except they take their facts from just about anywhere and everywhere they can, only they don’t rely on a “peer review” panel to ascertain their credibility, they must use their own resources of critical thought to cross-check and reference as many sources as they can find from that era as well as the entirety of human history to come up with a credible framework of historical fact. If they make too many assumptions or leap to conclusions, you’d best believe that there will be a real review of their work by their peers in the form of a critique. Because they’re working with a much larger timescale of information than most scientists, the historically based thinker has a much greater testing ground for any theory they would like to put forward and their critics likewise have a much greater arsenal for pointing out its flaws.
4) “Scientific fact” relies too heavily on one’s faith in the intentions of individual scientists and the institutions that fund their research and experiments. I often hear scientists spoken of as though they are these pillars of nobility and virtue, with no motives in life other than the pursuit of truth. I’ll admit that there are a good number of scientists who this can be said about, but that they are vastly outweighed by those with less pure intentions and are probably not the ones any of us are taught about. These virtues can certainly be more readily applied to your average philosopher, which literally means “lover of wisdom”, as history shows that the philosopher is generally at odds with the popular consensus of their time and often have to fight a seemingly impossible battle in their purporting of truth with little reward to gain other than the satisfaction of the task itself. On the other hand, the scientist is praised in modern society simply for their title, they are assumed to be smarter and more knowledgeable than their peers and they can publically dismiss the views and opinions of others.
That isn’t to say that it’s all that great being a scientist today, it simply isn’t. Because it has been promoted for so long as one of, if not the, highest achievements one can aim for, there is a huge glut of them and work for the qualified scientist is scarce. I know a number of PhDs who cannot find work, have to travel interstate for work if they’re lucky or overseas if they’re less lucky to find work, or hate the work they’ve been lucky enough to find. They often work long hours in cramped laboratories doing menial and repetitive tasks that are nothing like what they thought they were training their minds for for so many years. Not to mention the copious amounts of debt you wrack up just to get yourself qualified enough to be considered any use to anyone as a scientist and the time you must surrender to get there.To fully understand the state of modern science, one must consider the sources of scientific funding. The three main sources are: militaries, private corporations, and to a much lesser extent universities. The first we can all probably write off as having more-or-less evil intentions, or at the very least, intentions to do harm to humans of one walk of life or another. The second we can write off as having selfish intentions as it only takes a cursory knowledge of the corporate structure to understand that the bottom line is always profit. If profits aren’t rising, the whole thing collapses and there isn’t any more scientific funding for anyone. There is obvious bias inherent in privately funded science as people only invest in this sort of thing with the expectation that they will get their money back with interest. So if something is discovered or disproven which harms the potential for this profit, it stands to reason that it will be swept under the rug, sealed off and incinerated, rug and all. And maybe a few of those pesky scientists along with it. The third is probably the most trustworthy of the three, but its funding is minuscule compared to the other two. On top of that, university science departments are run by the previous generation’s scientists and thus there is an undeniable potential for institutional bias to skew the way in which experiments are conducted and then received. After all, these people’s reputations are on the line, and that’s about all they have going for them.
There is a fourth source of funding but it is so small that it barely warrants mentioning: independent altruistic funding. This is where the true lovers of science reside, either by donating their resources to its honest pursuit or on the scientist’s side, donating their time or taking the lesser paying job, refusing to work for nefarious institutions altogether, and often just funding their own research entirely. This is fringe science that probably won’t make it into any of those “reputable” journals and will be dismissed as pseudoscience or “bad science” as the scientific zealots will say today.
5) Scientists are not trained to be critical thinkers. What people often don’t understand about an Arts degree is the huge amount of thought required to get one. It may be easier to get into at university but that’s just part of the bias against it. The difficulty of a science degree is not in the use of one’s logical faculties, but rather in the mass absorption and rote learning of reams and reams of “facts”. Unlike the humanities which require independent research and thinking to come up with your own original ideas and conclusions, scientific studies mainly require you to repeat the information that you’re told is important, avoiding of anything you’re told is unimportant and staying between the lines of current scientific consensus when you are asked to work something out yourself. You are tested mainly with multiple-choice questions which test only that you have memorized the “correct” information and ignored the “incorrect” information. You are not asked to consider in any deep manner why we believe one theory to be correct and all of its alternatives incorrect, this sort of thing is generally brushed off with an authoritative paragraph at the beginning of the chapter of your textbook. The result is classrooms of bright students who either work at filling the holes in the official theories or are otherwise weeded out.
I would like the staunch defenders of modern science and the scientific method to answer these questions:
- Why is the scientific method the best means of ascertaining truth?
- How deep is your trust in scientists, scientific institutions, the funders of scientific research and the “peer” reviewed scientific journals?
- What are your scientific credentials?
- What experiments have you ever conducted for yourself?
- What is required for you to believe something?
- Have you ever experienced a paradigm shift where what you once believed whole-heartedly turned out to be completely erroneous?
- If so, why did you hold that belief in the first place and what made you change your mind?
When I say “in light of all I have said”, I mean that I would like proper responses to what I have written, not cherry-picked quotes and off-topic answers that completely avoid the actual points I have made. Don’t think that dishonest tactics will get you anywhere. They might confuse any TL:DRers out there, but they probably don’t care enough about any of this stuff to be swayed anyway. I only care about the people out there who give a damn about truth, who enjoy challenging their preconceptions and who think for themselves. You will not fool these people with your bullshit shill tactics, so please don’t try to waste my time with them. I’m done wasting my time with them. I simply will not any longer.