Neil de Grasse Tyson and "Scientism" article.....grrrrr

The above article pissed me off because it was in New Scientist, and, Slate, and is a total BS Strawman Argument against the concept of policies being based upon evidence.

The author is either using it as a spoof to elicit responses for a study or something, or is an actual idiot.

Most of it is addressing Tyson saying things would be better if policies were based upon actual scientific evidence as opposed to what they are now instead.

The problem is that the author treats science as a religion, equates it to creationism, makes ludicrous statements that are unsupportable, and then proceeds to name instances where right wing conservative and/or fascist or communist politics impacted policies and science itself, but blames the bad policies on "bad science".

He seems to have no idea how science works, uses phrases such as scientism, doesn't understand the difference between research and conclusions and evidence, or, what the nature of evidence needs to be in science to base something on, etc.

He essentially writes as though science can't replace religion...which is not even the topic.

Science, IMHO, is not to "Replace Religion".  Science is to answer the questions about how things work.

What replaces religion is simply not believing in the supernatural.

They are overlapping in populations, but have nothing really to do with each other technically.

So, societies have never, or at best very rarely, historically, based policies on scientific evidence, except, again, cherry picked right wing choices, etc...that would not pass scientific muster w/o the political influences.

So, he points out "examples" of things that happened, as if they were actually happening in societies that DID use scientific evidence to make policies...and pretends as though they did, so he can point to them and say "See what happens when we use evidence!"


Its a horrible no good terrible bad article.

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Religion is only referenced twice and only in the beginning of the article. 

It is true that science just gives us data. What to do with the data has to do with our values. He's right that science can't tell us about right and wrong issues like abortion, capital punishment, or how to fight a war.

Even in a technocracy run by scientists and other "experts," this would still be true. We don't want those values coming from a faith-based system, but values are based on wants like "What kind of world do I want to live in," which is an evaluation, not a fact.

So, I find less to disagree with in general terms, though many things to disagree with in specifics, in this article.

You wouldn't want to live in a country or world ruled by a computer, would you?

I would like to dissect this article too but I find so much wrong with it that I am not sure where to start. His opening lines are a strawman argument. Tyson talked about forming policy based upon the weight of evidence (e.g. how to deal with Climate Change) but Guhin accuses him of attempting to be “perfectly logical” and his tone is very dismissive.  One thing Guhin should have mentioned is Stephen Jay Gould’s idea about Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). I don’t quite agree with it but given Guhin’s academic credentials I wonder why he does not. He could have done a much better job of critiquing Tyson’s argument. Maybe he should apply for a visa to spend some time in Rationalia and then try again.

I see that he admires this paper. The last few words of the first sentence are interesting. (source)

This article doesn't even deserve an analysis. It seems like an anti-intelectualism anti-scientist, strawmanning, post-modernist, misrepresentative, inappropriately quoting authors with a less than clear purpose with a clickbaity title and a stupid-ugly image to go with it.

It is flabberghasting that New Scientist would publish this. I understand doing an article that talks about the dangers of making all policy decisions based on science, but it should be written by a much more intelligent and better writer who doesn't misrepresent others (Tyson, Haack, Dawkins) and has a clear statement to make. But then. New Scientist has always seemed just a little subpar compared to Scientific American, the MIT review and National Geographic.

The straw man is that policies based upon scientific evidence = Pol Pot or Nazi Germany, etc.

Political forces used fake science to rationalize some tiny aspects of what they did...but in no way was the outcome DUE TO the bad science.

IE: Nazi Germany did not come to power because science proved Aryans were the master race. They came to power in response to the WWI restrictions and impacts that made Germans feel the need for vindication, and then used assorted tools to take advantage of it with "truthy" statements that appealed to the masses, a la Trump, etc.

The implication that science was somehow supposed to instill morals, or the lack thereof, into the system...was pure straw.  


What Tyson et al preferred was to back out the political influence, and, where RELEVANT, for the scientific evidence to be used INSTEAD of what has been used.

David Duke could have ghost written what we saw in the article.


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