Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Science

 

In my recent post, “The Dangers of Political Science,” I tried to make the case that the politicization of our scientific and research institutions was not just unhelpful, but dangerous. I attempted to draw a parallel between our response to COVID-19 and our response to global warming, although I did so with an accompanying picture of Al Gore, not with text. See if you notice the same similarities that I do, between our COVID-19 and climate change policies:

So they mix good data with bad, find in that complex data a consistent pattern that does not exist, and demand that we all follow a plan of centralized control, much of which isn’t clear to have benefit.

They then pre-emptively declare that any who are foolish enough to question them are dangerous radicals. So those who want to control society based on questionable data are just being reasonable. But those who stop and think about all this are radicals.

What bothers me about all this is that we have agreed that “science” should be our leader, if not our God. Leftists don’t say that conservatives are promoting policies which are unlikely to help – they say that we “don’t believe in science.” And, it goes without saying, that non-believers and their dangerous radicalism should be publicly shamed and denounced. This may sound foreign to modern Christians, but modern Muslims are slowly nodding their heads right now.

A couple of years ago, Harrison Ford gave a fiery speech about climate science. I found that odd, so I wrote a column about it: “Those Who ‘Believe in Science’ Don’t Understand Science.” I tried to make the point that in math & science, there’s really nothing to believe in. It either works, or it doesn’t. If you think something is incorrect, do a study and see if your hunch is correct. But don’t give passionate speeches trying to convince me of something that you don’t understand. The only reason that anyone gets passionate about statistical analysis is if they’re trying to pull a fast one on somebody.

But it’s important to note that Mr. Ford was not declaring himself to be the leader of this particular leftist cause – the leader is science itself.  Like Mr. Ford’s speech, this seems odd.

The left seems to have difficulty finding appropriate leaders. No leftist politician can cite God as an inspiration unless that leftist politician is black. But no one really thinks that Al Sharpton is simply following the example of Jesus wherever it might lead, so that’s sort of ok. No, they must choose human examples of virtue and sacrifice for leftist causes, which is naturally a tricky business.

To point out police brutality against blacks, leftists chose long-time criminal Michael Brown, who died soon after he robbed a convenience store again when he assaulted a police officer and was shot. They then tried George Floyd, a long-time criminal, and drug addict, who appears to have died of an overdose while being restrained by police.

These are not inspiring figures.

To promote the left’s effort to overturn the 2nd amendment, they chose an unlikeable publicity-seeking Florida teenager, with no particular expertise in gun legislation or anything else. To promote the left’s effort to gain control of society by leveraging our fear of climate change, they chose an unlikeable publicity-seeking Swedish teenager, with no particular expertise in climate science or anything else.

Cindy Sheehan for the antiwar movement. Christine Blasey-Ford for the Kavanaugh nomination. Al Gore for global warming. Hillary Clinton for women’s rights against sexual abusers. And on and on and on.

Granted, when the whole point of your political movement is to gain control over other people, it can sometimes be difficult to find admirable role models among your supporters. But even so, the leftist struggle to find inspiring leaders has proven to be a recurring problem.

So they’ve stopped trying.

In an effort to win this presidential election, they could have nominated an inspiring leader with a record of honesty, accomplishment, and leadership. The Democrats nominated Joe Biden. They didn’t even try. They’ve given up. And I can’t blame them.

Instead, they’ve decided to return to the worship of a god, who cannot be ridiculed the way their human representatives typically are. The obvious problem with that, however, is that all the major religions believe in things. That is completely unhelpful to a political movement that simply seeks power, and thus needs a more, um, flexible approach to ideology.

So they quickly discarded the more popular Gods out there and decided to design their own. It’s called ‘science.’ And thou shalt not question science. Whatever the heck it says this week.

Leftist control of our educational system has ensured that very few American citizens have a working understanding of math or science, so they can say that science says whatever is convenient for them at the time. Thus, the ideology of this god is completely flexible and easy to adjust, while the authority of this god remains beyond reproach. For leftists, who have searched in vain for a source of authority ever since Marxism collapsed, this god is perfect. And thou shalt have no other gods before science.

Believing in ‘science’ is dangerous even if the science is honest – there are so many things that science doesn’t understand, and so many things beyond its scope.

But when our ‘science’ becomes simply a tool of the left, then the worship of this new god goes from unhelpful to dangerous.

We should treat this new religion like the open threat that it is.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 33 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I believe science. I don’t believe in science.

    Science is a method of testing theories and determining which are correct and false. In real science, the science is never settled. It is always updated by new discoveries.

    Faith-based science – what drives climate science and (I am more convinced every day) the reactions to covid is a substitute for religion. As you said in your piece it leads to selective acceptance of data that supports the beliefs of the faithful.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Dr. Bastiat: Believing in ‘science’ is dangerous even if the science is honest – there are so many things that science doesn’t understand, and so many things beyond its scope.

    Exactly. Tools employed outside of their intended domain do not work as well, if at all.

    Excellent, Doc.

    • #2
  3. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Dr. Bastiat: I tried to make the point that in math & science, there’s really nothing to believe in. It either works, or it doesn’t.

    This seems to be lost on many people.

    We have also gone astray by believing that computer models represent “science.”  They can be useful tools, but do not provide a testable proof by themselves.

    I am reminded of Michael Crichton’s 2003 speech, Aliens Cause Global Warming. He basically says that if you can believe that the Drake Equation, which claims to predict the number of civilizations out there based on a bunch factors we cannot know or even measure, led to the state of mind that a formula, a model, could represent the climate.

    As has been said about String Theory, which has not presented any testable hypotheses, these things aren’t even wrong because you can’t test whether it works or it doesn’t.

    • #3
  4. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge
    DonG (Biden is compromised)
    @DonG

    Dr. Bastiat: See if you notice the same similarities that I do, between our COVID-19 and climate change policies

    Extreme models: Check.  Check.
    Tampered metrics: Check.  Check.
    Change behavior or others will die:  Check.  Check.
    Invisible enemy: Check.  Check.
    Ignore/suppress treatments/adaptations:  Check.  Check.
    “Denier” labeling:  Check.  Check.
    Global Reset required to fix:  Check.  Check.
    Bill Nye is grifting: Check.  Check.
    Celebrities shaming:  Check.  Check.
    Fix is more damaging than problem:  Check. Check.

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clavius (View Comment):
    As has been said about String Theory, which has not presented any testable hypotheses, these things aren’t even wrong because you can’t test whether it works or it doesn’t.

    “It is not even wrong.”

    — Wolfgang Pauli, commenting on a paper by a young physicist.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    DonG (Biden is compromised) (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: See if you notice the same similarities that I do, between our COVID-19 and climate change policies

    Extreme models: Check. Check.
    Tampered metrics: Check. Check.
    Change behavior or others will die: Check. Check.
    Invisible enemy: Check. Check.
    Ignore/suppress treatments/adaptations: Check. Check.
    “Denier” labeling: Check. Check.
    Global Reset required to fix: Check. Check.
    Bill Nye is grifting: Check. Check.
    Celebrities shaming: Check. Check.
    Fix is more damaging than problem: Check. Check.

    Vast quantities of grant money required for further studies: Check. Check.

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Clavius(View Comment):

    As has been said about String Theory, which has not presented any testable hypotheses, these things aren’t even wrong because you can’t test whether it works or it doesn’t.

    Wouldn’t it be better to say that they merely aren’t scientific?

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Percival (View Comment):

    Vast quantities of grant money required for further studies: Check. Check.

    If a tobacco company funds a study that concludes smoking is good for your health, it’s technically a variety of ad hominem fallacy to say the science is bad based on the funding.

    But it’s no fallacy to be suspicious. The same principle applies when the government funds studies on whose conclusions it bases its plans to expand.

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Vast quantities of grant money required for further studies: Check. Check.

    If a tobacco company funds a study that concludes smoking is good for your health, it’s technically a variety of ad hominem fallacy to say the science is bad based on the funding.

    But it’s no fallacy to be suspicious. The same principle applies when the government funds studies on whose conclusions it bases its plans to expand.

    If there were just the one actor, that might be true. But the people who want more power are also in charge of distributing the grants.

    Guess who starts with a leg up?

    • #9
  10. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Science is a method of testing theories and determining which are correct and false.

    There’s another philosophy of science than this one, logical positivism,  the one you and I were taught to believe is the only one. I truly hope that you learn about it some day. To be frank, I think we were taught irrational nonsense.

    I discovered the other old, competing tradition of science only accidentally, by stumbling across original works by philosophers of science. First Thomas Kuhn, then the French quantum physicist Albert Messiah, then Albert Einstein, then Ludwig von Mises, then Hermann Hoppe.

    Not by someone trying to convince me on an Internet forum.

    So neither will I try to convince you and Dr. Bastiat by writing Comments on Ricochet. I wish you the same happy accident, and then you can decide on your own.

    • #10
  11. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    There’s another philosophy of science than this one, logical positivism, the one you and I were taught to believe is the only one. I truly hope that you learn about it some day. To be frank, I think we were taught irrational nonsense.

    I discovered the other old, competing tradition of science only accidentally, by stumbling across original works by philosophers of science. First Thomas Kuhn, then the French quantum physicist Albert Messiah, then Albert Einstein, then Ludwig von Mises, then Hermann Hoppe.

    Logical positivism is the worst philosophy there ever was.

    Its roots are in Hume.  I have an introduction to the matter on the “The Philosophers in Their Own Words” playlist–actually an ongoing series.  Only the first couple of entries in the series are out. One more each week till it’s done.

    Here’s some more of my introductions to the problems with logical positivism–with some impressively low-quality video production too!  More to come in future.

    • #11
  12. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    “Believe in Science” doesn’t mean what people who use that phrase think it means.  It means advancing understanding of phenomena through skepticism, further observation, logic and experimentation.  It means being open-minded to adjustments, even new theories.  If you express skepticism and are accused of being in denial, you are dealing with someone who does not “believe in science”.  Even if they are scientists.

    • #12
  13. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I believe science. I don’t believe in science.

    Science is a method of testing theories and determining which are correct and false. In real science, the science is never settled. It is always updated by new discoveries.

    Faith-based science – what drives climate science and (I am more convinced every day) the reactions to covid is a substitute for religion. As you said it your piece it leads to selective acceptance of data that supports the beliefs of the faithful.

    It just dawned on me, all of this closure chaos is the human sacrifice required to appease their god.

     

    • #13
  14. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    “Believe in Science” doesn’t mean what people who use that phrase think it means. It means advancing understanding of phenomena through skepticism, further observation, logic and experimentation. It means being open-minded to adjustments, even new theories. If you express skepticism and are accused of being in denial, you are dealing with someone who does not “believe in science”. Even if they are scientists.

    Absolutely!

    • #14
  15. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    “Believe the science,” sounds better than, “because shut up.” 

    • #15
  16. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Henry Castaigne

    “Believe the science,” sounds better than, “because shut up.” 

    I think it was STFU, but nice of you to clean it up for Ricochet. 😉

    • #16
  17. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Shut-uppery. 

    I love Andrew Klavan.

    • #17
  18. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    There’s another philosophy of science than this one, logical positivism, the one you and I were taught to believe is the only one.

    Oh wow. That’s hideous.

    I was introduced to science through scientist biographies and Christian history of science (Abecka science program for middle schoolers).

    I fortunately missed this philosophy. And I only took philo 101 which didn’t get to Hume.

    • #18
  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Let’s be fair. You’re a doctor. Suppose that you show a patient evidence (blood tests, for example) that his sniffles are actually the beginning of a highly infectious and deadly disease. He rejects your evidence. His doubt threatens both himself and other people. Wouldn’t you respond with anger or frustration?

    When the stakes are high, emotions run hot. That’s why politics and religion are touchy subjects.

    I couldn’t even get a Democrat friend to acknowledge that shifting from “global warming” to “climate change” is nonsensical if warming is one’s key proof. It’s obfuscation. But I can understand that if one thinks the world is going to be destroyed by negligence, one would get a little passionate in response to firm disagreement.

    You might think that after decades of failed predictions, doubts might cool their passions. But another problem is that they are lied to about the evidence, so they think we already are in the midst of global environmental catastrophe.

    Of course, one can sympathize with a madman and yet recognize that a madman should not be given power. Climate alarmists are politically dangerous. If they claim emergency powers to make drastic edicts to counteract “climate change”, those false emergency powers should not be tolerated.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Of course, one can sympathize with a madman and yet recognize that a madman should not be given power. Climate alarmists are politically dangerous. If they claim emergency powers to make drastic edicts to counteract “climate change”, those false emergency powers should not be tolerated. 

    A pandemic would be much more effective.

    • #20
  21. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    The other thing here is that the “Believe the Science” cultists don’t really believe their own mantra, because in the end Science is politically neutral, in that there are advances and new developments which go against the preferred progressive narrative. We may be about to see the Sun pull one of these off, if the recent low period of sunspot activity does translate into something similar to the Manuder Minimum of the mid-1600s to the early part of the 1700s, and the hyperbolic claims of polar ice caps melting unless we give government complete power to fight climate change have to be readjusted back to something resembling the hyperbolic nuclear winter claims of the 1970s and early 80s.

    There are other examples. The left ‘effing hates science when it comes to genetically manipulated crops, they hate the science that’s paired fracking with horizontal drilling to give the U.S. energy independence, and they really hate the science of pre-natal medical technology, that’s done everything from create far more distinct imaging of fetuses to allow children born in the late second trimester to develop and lead normal lives. While they may have loved the science of the RU-486 ‘Morning After’ pill to be green-lit for use by Bill Clinton back in the mid-1990, they’re enraged at anything that hurts their desire to pretend that the science is frozen in amber from January 1973 as far as the viability of fetuses to survive early-term deliveries and be considered human beings.

    Science only is their God when they think (or think they can make the public think) it deals in absolutes they can control to push their case for more government control. Parts of science that work against their narrative either aren’t science at all or are evil, and are scientific advances to be suppressed, not celebrated.

    • #21
  22. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Science only is their God when they think (or think they can make the public think) it deals in absolutes they can control to push their case for more government control. Parts of science that work against their narrative either aren’t science at all or are evil, and are scientific advances to be suppressed, not celebrated.

    Yup. “Selective acceptance of data that supports the beliefs of the faithful.”

    • #22
  23. dukenaltum Inactive
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    Sophocles’ play Antigone:  “evil appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction”.

     

    Make a god of Science and soon you’ll find the world a slaughterhouse of humanity.

    • #23
  24. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Science only is their God when they think (or think they can make the public think) it deals in absolutes they can control to push their case for more government control. Parts of science that work against their narrative either aren’t science at all or are evil, and are scientific advances to be suppressed, not celebrated.

    Yup. “Selective acceptance of data that supports the beliefs of the faithful.”

    In other words, they do not worship Science. It’s just an appeal to authority by sophists. Scientific evidence or research is something to be praised when useful and abandoned when contrary to leftist dogmas. 

    Likewise, every friend of the Left is a fair weather friend. An “expert” or organization that serves the cause will be cheered, but quickly condemned if ever not in lockstep. 

    Sophistry is disregard for truth in pursuit of other interests. Sophists will sometimes appeal to truth, but not for its own sake. If truth is spoken, it is only for temporary advantage. That same truth will be rejected the moment it becomes inconvenient. 

    Climate change, equating COVID-19 to a plague — these claims are maintained only so long as they empower the Left. If such tales of impending doom ever limited the Left’s powers and authorities, those narratives would be not only abandoned but stricken from historical record. 

    The Left relies on many useful fools who do not realize where they are led. But they are in the grip of evil. Disregard or denial of objective truth is a path to the worst horrors of history.

     

    • #24
  25. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Science only is their God when they think (or think they can make the public think) it deals in absolutes they can control to push their case for more government control. Parts of science that work against their narrative either aren’t science at all or are evil, and are scientific advances to be suppressed, not celebrated.

    Yup. “Selective acceptance of data that supports the beliefs of the faithful.”

    It’s worth noting here that the climate people at NASA — who have been among the most hysterical about global warming for the better part of the past two decades, are already out with a piece saying why the current dearth of sunspot activity doesn’t mean there’s going to be global cooling, as in the late 17th/early 18th centuries, because man-made global warming is so omnipresent, that nothing the sun does in terms of lower solar activity will slow the changes humans are inflicting on the Earth.

    The hubris here in the belief that man’s ability to control the climate of the planet over the sun’s ability to affect it is particularly interesting, in that to perpetuate the preferred narrative of government’s ability to stop global warning via draconian regulations, human activity has to be given a massive boost in power in comparison the forces of nature (I’d say download this piece and keep it handy over the next 30 years  the solar minimum cycle is predicted to last, but holding NASA to their statements today would be akin to holding Al Gore to his claim that the polar ice caps would be gone by 2013 or the London Guardian’s  warning in 2000 that snowstorms were a thing of the past. If you hold the proper political positions, no inaccurate claims are ever held against you, and your allies simply pretend the claims never occurred in the first place).

    • #25
  26. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Dr. Bastiat: A couple of years ago, Harrison Ford gave a fiery speech about climate science.

    How many homes, cars, and planes does Ford own? How often does he jet around the world? Remember the medieval sumptuary laws?

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: A couple of years ago, Harrison Ford gave a fiery speech about climate science.

    How many homes, cars, and planes does Ford own? How often does he jet around the world? Remember the medieval sumptuary laws?

    He buys indulgences pays for carbon credits.

    • #27
  28. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The problem is that academic credentials are now routinely presented to legitimize subjective opinions that are not scientifically established or which do no carry the certainty claimed. Our education system is so bad that most cannot make such distinctions. 

    We laugh at 1950s TV commercials featuring doctors endorsing cigarette brands but most of us are currently swallowing even bigger lies about such issues as climate change, sexuality, economics and history all delivered with academic trappings.

     

     

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    In other words, they do not worship Science. It’s just an appeal to authority by sophists. Scientific evidence or research is something to be praised when useful and abandoned when contrary to leftist dogmas. 

    They don’t worship Science. They worship Science! without, as a rule, giving a darn for actual science.

    • #29
  30. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge
    DonG (Biden is compromised)
    @DonG

    A refresher on the other warning in Eisenhower’s farewell address:

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.