Wednesday, September 3, 2014

6. Granting Ideological Privilege Is Intellectually Dishonest No Matter In What Field Or What Ideology

If you have read much of this series looking into E. O. Wilson's article in this month's Harper's magazine, I hope you will see the stunning range of claims he has made, some entirely baseless speculations, calling them "science".  And I hope you will see that his real motive is not to discover reality but to use such "science" to attack competing ideas.  I hope that you have also considered how much of what has been called "science" has that same motive and follows the same dishonest practices.

The reliance on that old standby of his ideological school, issuing promissory notes on what research yet to be done and even yet to be conceived of will deliver, permeates his work.

In our academic culture and its product, the quasi-officially defined "educated public." that widespread practice feeds off of the reputation science won for delivering reliable information, based on what is, actually, only a part of what has been called "science".   Much of what has been officially designated to be "science" by scientists putting that stamp of approval on it, has been quite unreliable.  But the habit of thought developed in the past three centuries, especially among those whose educational background is insufficient to allow them to understand what is contained in science and to think critically of scientific claims, allows ideologues such as Wilson to get away with murder when they do this.

I have come to see that one of the groups of people who ignorantly allow them to kill off intellectual integrity are publishers and alleged journalists who have so much of the market for the promotion of information and ideas.  Especially the publishers and editors of prestigious magazines.   That is on display in Wilson's article, it is what he does all throughout this article and during his career since the mid-1970s.   As mentioned early in this series, he is only one of a number of such materialist ideologues who has gotten away with doing that.

Materialism has retained a position in the habitual thinking of the educated public that it lost in physics with the rise of quantum mechanics beginning about a hundred-ten years ago.  Materialists such as Sean Carroll have renamed their ideology such things as "naturalism" or "physicalism" while retaining the same ideology, even as their science and, more so, the philosophical basis of science has pretty much ruled it out as a valid ideological frame with which to reach a deep understanding of the universe.   Even among those who should know better that habit of thought is so thoroughly ingrained that they violently resent anyone questioning it and testing its assumptions and speculations.

Perhaps reinforced by the prestige and privilege, the fame and repute such scientists gain through an entirely overblown belief in what their field does and what it is among many people, they get out of the habit of questioning themselves and putting their ideas to the most rigorous of tests.  The professional advantage they gain could certainly account for their uniformly arrogant confrontation of people who question them even as they claim that all of science must be so questioned, that science lives by such questioning.  In that they are very much like a certain type of clergymen who are far more interested in their clerical privilege and prestige than in the actual substance of the religion through which they achieve their expectation of entitlement to those.   The same forms of corruption that resulted from the establishment of churches under governments or academic institutions is certainly the result of making materialism the established religion of the modern world.   It is just such clergy who have generated the most effective attacks on religion.  

As I mentioned before, the constant repetition of granting flawed or baseless scientific claims, guaranteed on the basis that they support materialism, only to have those ideas turn out to be false, will catch up with it and destroy the value of the name, "science" in the general culture.  That is especially true when the products of science mix both the potential for enormous harm, eugenics, nuclear weapons, petroleum geography, etc. with the spectacle of serial refutations of previously sold science such as are found in the less exact sciences, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, the behavioral sciences, and outright scientific fraud that must be retracted because it was so approved despite being reviewed.

The extent to which such growing skepticism has already damaged the public acceptance of valid science is certainly worth asking as well as identifying those "sciences" that are habitually prone to producing such fraudulent results and forcing them to clean up their acts.

I will conclude this series either later this week or next week.   Wilson's article is so full of errors of thought and outrageously overblown claims that it's hard to know when to stop.

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