We can value scientific inquiry without viewing the natural sciences as free of politics.
By Kamil Ahsan
Originally published August 5, 2014
Here is an excerpt:
Ever since its coining by conservatives, “scientism” has been used pejoratively, most commonly by the same people who deny evolution and climate change. Consequently, leftists have historically renounced the word, signaling that that they fall on the side of scientific truth and not religion or spirituality.
This is a false dichotomy. One can value scientific inquiry without viewing the natural sciences as unimpeachable truth. And one can assail purported scientific progress without assailing science itself.
But try telling that to Michael Shermer, who, writing in Scientific American, sees in every critique of corporate behavior an anti-science temper tantrum: “Try having a conversation with a liberal progressive about GMOs…in which the words “Monsanto’ and ‘profit’ are not dropped like syllogistic bombs… The fact is that we’ve been genetically modifying organisms for 10,000 years through breeding and selection.”
The tunnel vision brought on by scientism resolves itself in a kind of social apathy, a dismissiveness of “real” problems, for which scientific data is the only antidote. This “just the facts, ma’am” approach excises ethics from the discussion and frames science as an appropriately depoliticized sphere. And in the process, it completely disregards what the humanities or the social sciences are able to tell us.
The entire article is here.