Few things are more tedious than the shrill and narrow-minded insistence that science is the Arbiter with the Answers. When I read scientists who grossly overestimate their abilities and are blind to the limitations of science, I cringe. Inside their meta-scientific box, everything makes sense in a tautological and clumsy way. Such thinking generates artificial clarity and feels robotic; it lacks what I would call suppleness and openness. I alluded to this the other day in my post on Pyrrhonian skepticism.
The world would be a better place if Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, and their ilk immersed themselves in this methodological and non-mystical bath. Because they don’t strike me as the types who can do this (and aren’t inclined to read Nietzsche with either understanding or appreciation), they will have to be satisfied with Austin Hughes’ New Atlantis essay on “The Folly of Scientism.”
But this won’t work either. Why? Because it is a counter-polemic to people who specialize in polemics. It fights the battle on their turf. When the blind don’t know they are blind, or refuse to acknowledge their lack of insight, this will never work.
Once you’ve made up your mind that something is or is not the case, you have closed off all further investigation and obliged yourself to defend that position dogmatically. It’s ironic that scientists would take a position so antithetical to science, which at its best is open-ended inquiry into things that are subject to constant revision.