from the FEE, Foundation for Economic Education, Be Wary of the Orwellian “Enlightened” Classby Robin Koerner
Science and scientism are superficially similar but epistemic opposites.
A true scientist remains doxastically open. That means that she works always on the assumption that her theory is a) false or incomplete and b) will therefore change.
The daily task of science is to identify the ways in which our current understanding is lacking. In so doing, science’s understanding of the world becomes less false.
Scientism, in contrast, is doxastically closed. That means that it identifies our best theory but then behaves as if it is a) absolute truth and b) will therefore not change.
Scientism, unlike science, has no need for data. It is deadly because it always uses the current paradigm to explain away potentially problematic observations. (E.g. the cat’s squeal isn’t telling me it’s in pain; it’s confirming that machines, including cats, have predictable responses to physical stimuli.)
Orwell’s “unthinking orthodoxy” is “political scientism.” That’s the epistemology of tyranny.
In my earlier article, I wrote about the authoritarianism of some of the “Social Justice Warrior” Left today, who would give moral privilege to groups they identity as victim groups in the name of eliminating privilege; who would eliminate the free speech of people with whom they disagree in the name of giving everyone an equal voice; who equate speech with violence to justify violence against those who speak.
Bizarre as those paradoxes clearly are, their advocates are not automatically dangerous if they are open to revising their moral or political theory in the light of falsifying data or contradictions in the theory’s application.
What makes it all dangerous is that it is allied with an a priori belief about competing views and political opponents that eliminate the possibility that any experiences or perspectives could provide data that could challenge the theory.
If potentially contradictory data can be rejected a priori on account of being explained away as the result of “fascist”, “racist”, “sexist” attitudes, for example, then the theory is inoculated against the human data against which all political theories must be tested.