Anyone who regularly reads this blog is able to see a major theme:  Science is the best (only?) objective route to knowledge of reality and virtually every ideology confronted on this blog is, in some degree, antiscience.

Following are excerpts from Wikipedia's entry on the subject of anti-science:
Antiscience is a position that rejects science and the scientific method[citation needed]. People holding antiscientific views are generally skeptical that science is an objective method, as it purports to be, or that it generates universal knowledge. They also contend that scientific reductionism in particular is an inherently limited means to reach understanding of the complex world we live in. Antiscience proponents also criticize what they perceive as the unquestioned privilege, power and influence science seems to wield in society, industry and politics; they object to what they regard as an arrogant or closed-minded attitude amongst scientists.[1][not in citation given]

Left-wing antiscience

One way the antiscience view is expressed is in the "denial of universality and... legitimisation of alternatives",[citation needed] and that the results of scientific findings do not always represent any underlying reality, but can merely reflect the ideology of dominant groups within society.[13] In this view, science is associated with the political Right and is seen as a belief system that is conservative and conformist, that suppresses innovation, that resists change and that acts dictatorially. This includes the view, for example, that science has a "bourgeois and/or Eurocentric and/or masculinist world-view."[14]  The anti-nuclear movement, often associated with the left,[15][16][17] has been criticized for overstating the negative effects of nuclear power,[18][19] and understating the environmental costs of non-nuclear sources that can be prevented through nuclear energy.[20]

Right-wing antiscience

The origin of antiscience thinking may be traced back to the reaction of Romanticism to the Enlightenment, French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. This movement is often referred to as the 'counter-enlightenment'. Romanticism emphasizes that intuition, passion and organic links to Nature are primal values and that rational thinking is secondary to human life. There are many modern examples of conservative antiscience polemics. Primary among the latter are the polemics about embryonic stem cell research, evolutionary theory[21] and modern cosmology teaching in high schools, contraception, and environmental issues related to global warming[22][23] and energy crisis.  There are many characteristics of antiscience associated with the right, such as the appeal to conspiracy theories to explain why scientists believe what they believe,[24] in an attempt to undermine the confidence or power usually associated to science (e.g. in global warming conspiracy theories). Another feature of "conservative antiscience" discourse is the widespread use of informal fallacies, in particular the false dilemma, appeal to consequences, appeal to fear, and the appeal to probability fallacies.

Religious antiscience

In this context, antiscience may be considered dependent on religious, moral and cultural arguments. For this kind of religious antiscience philosophy, science is an anti-spiritual and materialistic force that undermines traditional values, ethnic identity and accumulated historical wisdom in favor of reason and cosmopolitanism. In particular, the traditional and ethnic values emphasized are similar to those of white supremacist Christian Identity theology, but similar right-wing views have been developed by radically conservative sects of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. New religious movements like New Age thinking also criticize the scientific worldview as favouring a reductionist, atheist, or materialist philosophy.
A frequent basis of antiscientific sentiment is religious theism with literal interpretations of sacred text. Here, scientific theories that conflict with what is considered divinely-inspired knowledge are regarded as flawed. Over the centuries religious institutions have been hesitant to embrace such ideas as heliocentrism and planetary motion because they contradicted the dominant understanding of various passages of scripture. More recently the body of creation theologies known collectively as creationism and the more philosophically developed, teleological theory of intelligent design have been promoted by critical or apprehensive, religious theists in response to the theory of evolution by natural selection.[25]


Philosophical objections against science are often objections about the role of reductionism. For example, in the field of psychology, "both reductionists and antireductionists accept that...non-molecular explanations may not be improved, corrected or grounded in molecular ones".[27] Further, "epistemological antireductionism holds that, given our finite mental capacities, we would not be able to grasp the ultimate physical explanation of many complex phenomena even if we knew the laws governing their ultimate constituents".[28] Some see antiscience as " academic settings...many people see that there problems in demarcation between science, scientism, and pseudoscience resulting in an antiscience stance. Some argue that nothing can be known for sure".[29]  Many scholars are "divided as to whether reduction should be a central strategy for understanding the world".[30] However, many agree that "there are, nevertheless, reasons why we want science to discover properties and explanations other than reductive physical ones".[30] Such issues stem "from an antireductionist worry that there is no absolute conception of reality, that is, a characterization of reality such as... science claims to provide".[31] This is close to the Kantian view that reality is ultimately unknowable and all models are just imperfect approximations to it.


---  patients and practitioners may choose to reject reductionism and adopt a more holistic approach to health problems. This can be both a practical and a conceptual shift and has attracted strong criticism: "therapeutic touch, a healing technique based upon the laying-on of hands, has found wide acceptance in the nursing profession despite its lack of scientific plausibility. Its acceptance is indicative of a broad antiscientific trend in nursing".[34]
Since the term "reductionism" is used frequently in this post, following is a clarification regarding how science and reductionism are related (Wikipedia).
Reductionism can mean either (a) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. 
Reductionism does not preclude the existence of what might be called emergent phenomena, but it does imply the ability to understand those phenomena completely in terms of the processes from which they are composed. This reductionist understanding is very different from that usually implied by the term 'emergence', which typically intends that what emerges is more than the sum of the processes from which it emerges.
(Note:  Regarding emergence, the functions of an ant colony, the phenomenon of consciousness and the concept (?illusion) of free will are examples of such.)
In recent years, the development of systems thinking has provided methods for tackling issues in a holistic rather than a reductionist way, and many scientists approach their work in a holistic paradigm.[18] When the terms are used in a scientific context, holism and reductionism refer primarily to what sorts of models or theories offer valid explanations of the natural world; the scientific method of falsifying hypotheses, checking empirical data against theory, is largely unchanged, but the approach guides which theories are considered. The conflict between reductionism and holism in science is not universal—it usually centers on whether or not a holistic or reductionist approach is appropriate in the context of studying a specific system or phenomenon.
In summary, this blogger repeats THE challenge:  What ideology is better than science in determining objective reality?  To quote Edward O. Wilson:
Science is thus not just a profession. Nor is it a delectation of mavens. Nor is it a philosophy. It is a combination of mental operations that has increasingly become the habit of educated peoples. It's a culture of illuminations hit upon by a fortunate turn of history, of uncountable small and large steps, of adjustments to reality during the past four centuries that yielded the most powerful way of knowing about the world ever devised.

No comments:

Post a Comment