Philosophistry Database
Epistemology

Scientism

If there is a charitable kernel to the philosophy of Flat Earthers, its their opposition to Scientism. Scientism is the belief that science is our best tool for revealing truth. Anti-scientists believe in other sources of truth, typically first experiences or intuition. For example, a round Earth is not intuitive.

One could be forgiven for making it to adulthood and coming out against science. The biggest knock on science comes from healthcare, which is most people's primary contact with science. There, the science tells us conflicting information. Every year, for example, a new food gets added to the "do eat" list, while another food gets taken off. Every decade gets a new diet. Perhaps those fad ideas are mis-applications of science, but how is the lay person supposed to know what is a good application of science?

The information oncologists provide is conflicting, confusing, and uninformative. One study showed that most people's experiences through cancer is not just a physical nightmare, but a mental nightmare of spaghetti information. Meanwhile, "survivors" come out talking about how they underwent miracle cures. Who are we supposed to believe?

Doctors are trained in bedside manner techniques that involve avoiding saying phrases like "I think" or "I believe." Instead, they are to tell everything as if they were facts. Furthermore, it's better not to tell mixed messages. Don't retract something unless you're really sure you made an error. Any sign of waffling reduces authority.

Scientism isn't about the scientific method. Instead, it's a process of trusting scientific authority. Scientism in healthcare may a net positive today, but even a blind faith in authority would be highly recommended against by that same authority. You should always trust to your body.

The domains outside of healthcare should be stronger, though. Physics, for example, is ironclad. However, the media portrays physics as being upended by revolutions, such as relativity, which instead of making physics appear as an iterative discovering of the true naturue of the universe, the field comes across as a war of ideas. Again, you could forgive the anti-scientists watching these "scientific revolutions" unfold and coming out skeptical of any stability in science.

philosophy science epistemology _new

Conspiracy theorists probably have extra gray matter associated with memory, given how easy it is for data points to add up and overwhelm

When we exhume the bodies of conspiracy theorists and examine their brains, we might find them to have an unusual amount of gray matter associated with memory. Their theories are often presented as an overwhelming array of dots that may or may not be connected. The rate at which conspiracy theories get debunked by mainstream science is constant on a monthly basis, but the rate at which conspiracy theories are generated is unlimited.

Every mysterious detail gets logged in the conspiracy theorist's brain, and to them, the dots themselves are the point. There are just so many questions, which if they go on unanswered, can only mean one thing.

conspiracies psychology epistemology

The New York Times bestsellers list exists to turn the words of book titles into public thought

People hear about a non-fiction book from a popular magazine article or through an interview on the radio and are seduced by the thesis. They then buy the book and start reading it in earnest, gaining an introductory understanding of the nature of the research backing the thesis. They then often skim the rest of the book or set the book aside.

None of the author's research is retained by readers, nor necessarily even read, even if hundreds of thousands of people pick up the book. And yet those hundreds of thousands will believe in the words of that author, and of those hundreds of thousands, some will be policy-makers or spiritual leaders. The stack of text then becomes a beacon or totem that says, effectively, "This is probably true." People will cite the book after it's initial publication, and eventually, the book could be hollowed out. But even if the text were lost forever, the title of the book and the author's name could continue to guide the direction of human thought for years to come.

society writing epistemology