This morning I read an article one of my friends on Facebook had forwarded to me. At first I thought the young lady who wrote it was trying to be ironic or perhaps deliberately skewering the method in which the corporate/political enterprise embraces science. But it wasn’t until her last two paragraphs that it suddenly became clear what she thought the culprits were, institutional science itself:

“The scientific method is one thing; the Scientific Establishment is something else. Institutional Science, looked at as a social institution, resembles both an exclusive social club, to which you must know all the passwords (or shibboleths) to gain admittance, and a religious order to whose doctrines you must subscribe. As an ideology, science has a number of different sects. Prominent among these is scientific materialism, which is based in classical Newtonian physics; it has several tenants of belief, including that matter itself is inert, and possesses none of the properties found in humans—such as intelligence, sentience, interiority, and volition—and that inert (“dead”) matter is acted upon by external material forces in predictable ways. This school of thought also believes that the world can be understood by examining its individual constituent parts, and the essence of the whole grasped thereby. This doctrine is known as reductionism. Based in an historical antagonism with Institutional Religion, Institutional Science of this school sees Life on Earth as something that happened by pure chance, in a Universe that is indifferent or hostile to us or to Life itself. This particular piece of dogma has not been demonstrated by the scientific method, but is simply a tenet of faith, and is promulgated by such high priests of science as Laurence Kraus.

Another prominent figure in the priesthood of science is Richard Dawkins, who applies these principles of classical physics to the study of biology and evolution. A neo-Darwinian, Dawkins sees life on Earth as a struggle for survival, characterized by violent competition, and driven by a fiercely self-centered genetic determinism. This version of neo-Darwinism is embraced and encouraged by the Capitalist Establishment because it makes their predatory and parasitic enterprise seem based in our biology, and therefore inevitable."

The thought that someone could make such an observation smelled of christian revisionism. So I replied:

“Sorry, I was in complete agreement with this up until the last two paragraphs. Scientists like Kraus and Dawkins aren’t working for the corporate machine (or attempting to support it). If anything they’re being stifled by it.

First off, have you ever noticed how many corporations (big and small) claim to uphold to “Christian” values or for that matter all the corporations that receive support by Christian Politicians? How about companies that have filed suit because they felt their Christian values were being infringed upon?

Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, Hobby Lobby, Forever 21, Mary Key, Marriott Hotel, Jet Blue, Clorox, General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Con Agra, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsi, Hershey’s, and the list goes on... Also let’s “follow the money” on this realization; no company want’s to portray to the American public an image of not upholding to some form of religio-centric values, because they’ll definitely have a difficult time finding investors. Take for instance people like Rupert Murdoch, Sam Walton, James C. Penny, Conrad Hilton, David Ramsey and Charles Koch, all either claim to be "Christian" or are heavy investors in Christian based organizations. Yes, they may also invest in scientific enterprise for highly select personal interests but they’re not trying to do so under a veil of “genetic determinism”, “neo-Darwinism” or biology (much as that might seem attractive to non-fundamental Christians), this is because there’s nothing “genetic”, “Darwinistic” or “biologic” about corporations except in a metaphoric sense.

Nope, sorry Erica but this is a thinly veiled attempt at distancing men of corporate greed from it’s real perpetuators, faith.

I would say that if you really wanted stir up some shit perhaps you might want to take a look at why these corporations want to support Christian Values in the first place. After all it’s also these same “values” that are stifling scientific progress in public schools. And with more and more of our school’s budgets being cut it won’t be long before corporations will be the primary supporters of public education. And when that happens...

Face it, corporations want to keep the American public as dumb Christian sheep.

Anyway, I wanted to hear your views on this.

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Bangers don't do empiricism, Gerald; they rely on imagination.

Well, I should probably show you the responses I received from her and one of her friends (Kristal). Apparently this Erica is quoting a Gary Grip who’s a friend of her’s and is a writer of some sort living in Oregon:

“Erica Velis In fairness, I must point out that I only posted Part One of Gary's essay. Perhaps we should hear him out and read Part 2 to get a fuller sense of his perspective before we launch into the critique. I will also point out that Gary never accused Dawkins of being some kind of corporate shill, he pointed out that the neo-Darwinian science he espouses reflects a worldview that is consistent with the one we inherited from Newton and Descartes, where everything that happens in the "world machine" is observable and explainable in simple, empirical terms. To elaborate on this further, I will repost Part Two of Gary's essay here:

"About a hundred years ago, quantum mechanics came on the scene, and changed the way a few in-the-know scientists saw the world. So much of what is known about quantum mechanics is so counter-intuitive that even those who study its phenomena find its truths to be baffling. Quantum physics is now generally accepted as scientifically sound, even though many of its findings seem to contradict classical physics.

In the 1960s the historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, introduced the concept of paradigm and paradigm shift. Since that time several new scientific disciplines have come on the scene. Chaos theory, complexity theory, and systems theory have each introduced new perspectives on the world. In the biological sciences, epigenetics is changing our understanding of genetic inheritance and how evolution takes place. A few interdisciplinary thinkers, like Fikret Berkes, author of Sacred Ecology, recognize the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Native peoples as science—and, unlike Western science, it is based on the intimate knowledge of a particular place, as experienced by a rooted people, over generations. TEK is close observations taken in the laboratory of life and subject to the peer review of elders and ancestors and Mother Nature herself. He and other systems thinkers have sought ways to incorporate TEK into Western science, and have found it most compatible with holistic systems thinking.

Western science is overdue for a paradigm shift, but so far inertia has favored science of the status quo. Mechanistic, reductionistic, and deterministic thinking continues to hold sway in many scientific circles, including in academia. One of the hallmarks of approved academic science is peer review, with the purported (and actual) purpose of cross-checking and verifying findings. This is partly as it should be, but peer review also tends to have the effect of inhibiting creativity and thinking, even in small ways, outside the dominant paradigm. The need for peer acceptance, and employment within hidebound institutions, acts as a censor and suppressor of 'unacceptable' conclusions, hypotheses, or experimental design. Go along and get along manifests in the Scientific Establishment just like it does everywhere else.

My critique of science does not end here. It goes all the way back to the beginnings of civilization and the Big Lie that the human being is separate from Nature. So many of our institutions, and ways of thinking about the world, are based upon this manifest untruth, and that includes Western science. Our cultural memes—human centered from beginning to end—tell us that we are the subjects and everything else in the world, including all other life forms, are nothing but objects. It makes it so much easier to abuse, enslave, and exploit our relatives within the Community of Life if we can just pretend that they are nobodies. The chimpanzees, pigeons, and rats we study, the frogs we pith in the name of science, don’t share our human qualities of sentience, intelligence, selfhood, or volition, and so it is okay to violate them. Descartes has assured us that they are nothing but unfeeling machines, automatons, and so it must be true, and we can build a world around ourselves that is all, and only, about humans. The science of ecology is leaking information to us that might suggest otherwise, that really we live in a world based upon webs of interdependence, and that the Community of Life that we see as Other is really the larger manifestation of ourselves. We are part of a much larger whole, not the whole itself. And until science catches up with this fact of our existence, and starts seeing what indigenous peoples have known all along, science is just another word for hubris."

Then there’s Kristal’s response, which reads:

“Kristal McKinstry Dave, let's take for example Clinton's nanotech advisory board. While it's true that only nanotech scientists have any remote chance of evaluating the safety of such tech, it's also true that they wish to see it succeed. In the early days of nanotech there was the reasonable concern that an out-of-control matter transforming virus might turn the earth into a dead battery goo at the speed of electricity. We now realize that such could only occur at the speed of smell, and that it would require an impetus molecular chemical-kinetic force that would quickly dissipate. That said, it's not unlike the Manhattan project, where there was perhaps a 2% chance (using the science of the time) that creating an atomic bomb might trigger a chain reaction that engulfed the planet, and yet we tried it out anyhow. Since the anti-monopoly regulations have been written by cabinet members from large corporations, we have seen almost no more anti-monopoly suits. People from large corporations regulating corporations may be better qualified, and not part of any intentional conspiracy, but there whole foundation is still based on corporations being the elite which control the planet - they do not represent the non-corporate public even if they wished to, because it's not their world understanding.

Gary's point is partially that those immersed in their own paradigm can't see outside of it, but he also makes the claim that 'science is the servant of capitalism'. It doesn't matter if scientists strive for it to be otherwise, it's still what occurs. Scientists who actually get funding generally serve capitalist ambitions.

David, I think you need to look deeper than faith as the problem. These people have no faith. They are manipulators, and faith simply comes in handy to get their way. The crux of '1984' was power for the sake of power. Money was beside the point, just an instance of representing power. The ultimate power is controlling the consciousness of the masses. People who seek power will gladly ride the coat-tails of some religion if it puts them personally in a position of wielding power.

Industry is not the problem. Power is not the problem. Science and faith are not the problem. The problem is people wielding power for their personal ego rather than wielding it for whatever needs the public has.”

All I know is I’ve started getting messages like this ever since I “liked” the Green Party on Facebook. Now I’m suddenly attracting all these weirdo’s. If people like this are who the Green Party represents, maybe I should start looking for some other political party to belong to. All I keep thinking is that line of Alexander Pope's: A little knowlege is a dangerous thing.

As a member of the Green party, I request that you not judge the entire party by this sample. Thanks.

Don’t worry Ruth, in all honesty I still respect what the Green Party represents. My statement of looking for another party was mostly tongue in cheek.

I know every political party has it’s percentage of weirdo’s. It’s the percentage of members of any given political party that I feel best represent’s it’s strength at establishing a positive social morality (or ability to work for the greater good). For instance, the GOP has about 9% that I would consider to be positive in their social morality, Democrats about 58%, etc... I’m sure the Green Party fare’s even better (perhaps about 83%), but it’s always the nut-jobs that seem to stand out most.

I'm a member of the Green party Ruth, but I don't think this is relevant. It's peripheral and not representative of the ambitions the greens aspire to.

There's truth in that, but not the whole truth.  As in the statement above,

science is just another word for hubris

which the author in no way showed. It's a grand leap beyond anything true that they said.

that young lady has it all wrong, science is not an ideology, its a set of methods that we use to extend our senses and which is used to make understandable deductions and inductions about the world around us. :)

Thinking of science as an ideology allows Christians to attack the motives of their opponents, which is a lot easier than refuting scientific arguments.

So True Mike, it is a set of methods, developed so different people can compare and measure their experiences and observations, and with application of those methods, develop a measure for determining validity or truthfulness of their experiences and observations.

With consistent use of the scientific method, we can gather a collective set of truths (knowledge) about the world around us.

It is all about verification of reality, through consistency.

It is what Aristotle was trying to obtain, a way of testing for truth in our perceptions.

Nothing to do with ideology, more to do with gaining genuine verified knowledge about ourselves and the universe we live in.

The invention of the scientific method to understanding reality is analogous to the what the invention of the ruler was to architecture.

Aye M8!  :-D~

Most of these people might as well tell you something like "you have your belief and I have mine." That's really what they are saying even about science. None of them understand science enough to know what a "theory" is. To them it's just a popular belief or an educated guess.

In January 1877 William Kingdon Clifford, a renowned mathematician and religious skeptic, published in the Contemporary Review an essay titled The Ethics of Belief. His thesis was that we are not morally entitled to beliefs based on insufficient evidence.

The essay became famous and is still often quoted. At the end Clifford sums up his points:

To sum up:—
        We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know.
        We may believe the statement of another person, when there is reasonable ground for supposing that he knows the matter of which he speaks, and that he is speaking the truth so far as he knows it.
        It is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence; and where it is presumption to doubt and to investigate, there it is worse than presumption to believe.

The fact that there are real consequences of belief means that we must proportion our belief to the evidence available.

Looking at the article, her diatribe is rather fallacious.

Firstly, it was stated that matter is inert, which is incorrect, as only inert matter is inert, the rest of matter is not inert.

In fact, much of her diatribe is inept!





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