Article 1:

The Ubiquitous Failure To Accept Science as Knowledge and Pseudoscience As Belief

Having gone live with this website on 30/4/20, I now exemplify the above failure by referencing two articles in the Spectator of 4/4/20. In one, Rod Liddle opined in respect of corona virus that ‘epidemiologists are captured by their own paradigms and see only one small margin of what is a very big picture; and that they change their tune with every day that passes’.  He then opined that ‘this is fair enough because that’s how science works’; that ‘it is practiced by fallible humans, however admirable its methodology’; that ‘it is never certain’; that ‘something new always comes along’; and that ‘we should always have our doubts’.  Again, in the other, Mathew Paris opines that ‘we do ourselves down by putting experts on a pedestal by saying The Science must be obeyed’; that ‘we end up wiping away the doubts and debates which inform actual science’; that ‘we ought hear the professionals debate with each other; that ‘perhaps medical and statistical correspondents should question the experts’; and that ‘good scientists know the work of Karl Popper whose contribution to the philosophy of science was his statement that ‘no scientific hypothesis deserves the name unless it is capable of being refuted’.  Clearly, neither are aware that scientists reality-validate or reality-refute hypotheses (beliefs) by experimentation to the non-debatable positive or negative knowledge which differentiates science from the beliefs and opinions of pseudoscience. Nor are either aware that this differentiation is the foundation of my Campaign for knowledge to replace opinionated belief  in all future policy-making.

Indeed, it was clear to me as an undergraduate, that Karl Popper totally misunderstood the method by which all scientific knowledge is acquired; and that the ‘philosophy of science’ was and is an oxymoronic couplet as are more jocular examples such as ‘jumbo shrimp’, ‘young conservative’ and ‘military intelligence’. However, to reveal more fully the otherwise ubiquitous failure to differentiate science from pseudoscience and knowledge from belief in general, I refer my readers to Arthur Herman’s Book (2001) The Scottish Enlightenment, subtitled, The Scots’ Invention of the Modern World.  While, as a Scot myself, I do not wish to argue with this conclusion of an American who claims German-descent, I  do wish to draw attention to his failure to differentiate science from philosophy. He himself argues that while Scotland’s turbulent history from William Wallace to the Presbyterian Lords of the Covenant laid the foundations for this ‘Scottish Miracle’ it was harsh economic reality which compelled Scotland to accept Union with England in 1707; and that within decades of this Union, a remarkable circle of Scottish thinkers gave birth to the key assumptions which underlie modern politics, morals and cultural life. He identifies these thinkers as Adam Smith and such of his friends as David Hume, Allan Ramsay, Lord Kames, William Robertson, William Ferguson, John Home etc., and while Joseph Black is the only scientist thus listed, he fails to differentiate him from the non-scientists.

Again, in describing the contributions made by identified native Scots, emigrants, and their descendents to the creation of the British Empire and to the creation and development of the USA, he again fails to differentiate scientists, engineers and industrialists from politicians and administrators . Thus, with respect to America, he cites such as Alexander Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie who were of the former Group without differentiating them from such as John Witherspoon and Woodrow Wilson who were of the latter.  Indeed, in the absence of this differentiation, he recounts that when Andrew Carnegie approached Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton, with the intention of funding a scientific-engineering faculty to foster industry and commerce, the offer was rejected. As described by Arthur Herman, these two strands of Scotland’s legacy had met and retreated in mutual incomprehension, the outcome being that Carnegie donated funds for the creation of a boating lake in order that rowing might ‘take young men’s minds from the football favoured by Harvard and Yale’. However, I wish my readership to recognise that the incomprehension arose from the ever-present failure to differentiate scientific knowledge from beliefs/counter-beliefs and their respective opinions. 

To further illustrate the failure of attempts to resolve debates of belief/counter-belief in the absence of debate-terminating conclusive knowledge, I remind readers of Woodrow Wilson’s failure to gain a Senate belief-consensus in favour of his League of Nations initiative in the aftermath of World 1.

5/5/20            

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