Re: [asa] Trust

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Tue Dec 15 2009 - 04:22:52 EST

Hello Mike and Schwarzwald and others interested in 'trust' in/or science,   Yes, I've followed Mike Gene's interest over the years in issues such as 'trust' in/of science. I find his insights often well-made and well-aimed at those who would appear 'scientistic' in their 'elevation' of science into Science, a position that simply can no longer be maintained given the knowledge produced/discovered in such fields as history of science, philosophy of science and sociology of science. His open acknowledgement of the importance of trust 'for' scientists is refreshing indeed and is appreciated even in a secular context (e.g. a non-Christian forum).   How many people in North America (and Australia, nod to Murray) know about the so-called ‘science wars’ of the 90’s? The tension was between relativists and social constructivists, post-modernists and realists over ‘what science is and isn’t’ (a beleaguered ‘demarcation’ game of sorts) and over what science ‘means’ to people. The infamous Sokal hoax article fuelled the activities, but there were many other actors and incidents as well. The usual wiki reference:   One way to offer a spin on this topic is to compare ‘trust’ in/of science with ‘trust’ in/of art or music. Let’s be serious, ‘science’ can be called a single ‘industry’ and does not account for all ‘knowledge’ that can be produced or consumed by the public or in private. On your average internet search engine, science is one of 10 or 12 other ‘categories’ and probably (just a guess, no time to search the statistics) is in the lower 4 or 5 ‘most searched’ categories. Is ‘science’ really all that important to most Americans, in comparison with how seriously it is treated here at the ASA? Don’t most Americans place more ‘trust’ in music or art than in science?   The recent East Anglia leaked e-mails cast a doubt on the integrity of scientists and raise warnings that scientists are not ‘the new priests’ of ‘the secular age’ (Charles Taylor 2007). Surely most people on this list would be happy about that!? At the same time, however, ‘trust’ in your fields also has to take a hit in the process – you can’t have it both ways. The message is to ‘do good science’ and let the interpretations by colleagues, media and public ‘emerge’ as they may and inevitably will, in response to scientific ‘advances’ or ‘progress.’   Mike’s observations about Bloom and Weinberg find their mark because they acknowledge the ‘reductionism’ of the weak philosophical argument, based on the notion that ‘science is the highest type of knowledge.’ I wish more TEs/ECs and MN-followers would come forward to, as David Livingstone does in one of his books, help ‘put science in its place’ and not let it be elevated into something higher than it is. IDists otoh are already quite good at this.   What Bloom and most of the HIGHLY ACTIVE and CULTURALLY RELEVANT people over at the Edge are doing is ‘reducing upwards’ to the conclusion that Science either has or will have the/an Answer to all natural-physical questions. Whereas instead, someone like Arthur Peacocke or John Polkinghorne, accomplished scientists in their own realms, would openly admit that the higher one goes in/with knowledge, the *more* philosophy and theology are required/needed; not the less just so that Science can try to account for more as a scientistic or rationalistic or objectivistic worldview.   After all, who in ‘the west’ talks about WISDOM anymore? Do we really need wisdom if we can have lots of information, data and scientific ‘knowledge’ instead?   From an eastern tradition that still (or once again) loves wisdom, Gregory   ~  “Get behind me wisdom that does not weep, philosophy that does not laugh, greatness that does not bow before children.” – Kahlil Gibran   ________________________________ From: Schwarzwald <> To: Sent: Tue, December 15, 2009 3:16:36 AM Subject: Re: [asa] Trust Mike, And this buttresses a point I've alluded to in the past on this list. While I think much popular (religious and non) hostility towards some scientific views is unwarranted - naturally, since I'm a variant of TE, I suppose - there's been plenty of nonsense in the past billed as "science" or "the scientific view/way", and endorsed by the mainstream rather than some lone radical. Which leads to an unfortunate but necessary conclusion: That some skepticism of scientists, even mainstream scientific views, is justifiable. Maybe more than many are willing to admit. __________________________________________________________________ Looking for the perfect gift? Give the gift of Flickr!

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Received on Tue Dec 15 04:23:15 2009

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