Friday 13 March 2020

What is science? Part 6


The major flaw in science is the same flaw in humanity. Science is human, all too human. Scientists want to prove their theories, rather that falsify them. The process by which one theory is accepted and others rejected is in essence the same as the one by which one teenage girl is in the in crowd and another isn’t. It’s a popularity contest. What is popular commonly fits in with what is true, but not necessarily for the reason that it is true.

Science claims to be unbiassed, but this is the same sort of claim that the BBC makes about its lack of bias. Everyone is biased. We all have a world view that is governed by assumptions that we are frequently unaware of. It’s sometimes only when we meet people from very different places that we become aware of these assumptions.

Physics, chemistry and the various hard sciences may seem completely unbiassed, but they are materialistic, deterministic and seek to explain everything without reference to the experience each of us has of love, freedom, beauty and morality. All these things in the end will be reduced to chemical reactions in our brains and atoms hitting other atoms.

But these hard sciences are far less biased than those issues that are controversial or those issues that are at the heart of a political debate.

Take the following issues: climate change, transgender, homosexuality, race and differences between men and women. Does anyone seriously think that the science that investigates these issues is unbiassed?

I can think of no issue in modern times that has been investigated in such a partisan way as climate change. Left-wing people have tended to investigate in one way, while right-wing people have investigated in another. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong. The fact that the investigation has been partisan has massively hindered the search for truth. We have had confirmation bias, we have had propaganda, exaggeration and alarmism. I have lost count of the number of times climate scientists have told us that a wolf will appear in two years, only for the wolf to fail to appear. There no doubt is a wolf and it no doubt will appear, but the alarmism has hindered our preparations to deal with it.

The scientific community at its worst is a chummy club. You peer review my paper and I’ll peer review yours. It excludes those who are outside the herd mentality and rejects those who question the current assumptions. The scientific community chugs along churning out papers that no one reads and waits for the next Einstein to actually discover something radically different. At first it will describe Einstein as a heretic, next it will try to burn him at the stake and finally it will follow him blindly until the next heretic arrives.

It should at least be possible to investigate climate without any political bias. It is after all in principle something that is objective. But with issues like transgender this is simply impossible. How can you objectively prove that a man can become a woman? You might as well try to prove that a bachelor can be unmarried. But anyone who questions that men can become women, will rapidly find their papers unpublished and their name trashed on social media.

Certain politically charged topics are treated today like the Medieval Church treated the sacraments. They are mysteries that are not to be investigated. We have been awakened to the correct view on certain matters and we must bow down before the alter of correctness.

But how can we find out the truth about some of the most important and controversial issues that dominate modern thinking if we are only allowed to hold one viewpoint and we are only allowed to confirm what that viewpoint thinks it already knows? It means that wokeness isn’t really awake, it is fast asleep saying don’t question, don’t touch, don’t make me think.

The conformity in modern life is stifling. It means that ordinary scientists think twice before stepping on the toes of anything that might challenge present orthodoxy. It is similar to how Soviet scientists and historians had to avoid anything that might question what the Party taught and commanded. It means issues are not tested, not investigated, not even thought about.

While political bias is a problem for some science, it is less of a problem with areas that social media is uninterested in. But there is a bias here too.

The greatest bias and indeed perhaps the greatest fault in science is that it thinks it can provide a complete theory. It forgets that it is human. Science is not merely arrogant in thinking it can build a Tower of Babel that reaches to the heaven, it seeks to explain and reduce to nothing those areas that it should not even be touching.

Science cannot explain why we value life. It cannot explain morality. It cannot explain love, nor beauty, nor freedom, nor what is sacred. When it tries to explain these things it simply destroys them. It turns morality into instinct. Love into hormones. Freedom into necessity. The things we all most value in the world science reduces to nothing, to mere illusion. You may feel free, but really its all just atoms hitting each other and chemical reactions in your brain.

But my basic experience is that this is not so. This basic experience is beyond science to explain and it cannot without self-contradiction be reduced, because we use our basic experience to observe and without observation science could not even begin. If you question my most basic observations, you make experimentation impossible. How do you suppose you are to observe the results?

Science explains the world that we observe externally but has little to say about the world that we all observe internally. My consciousness of myself is of a being beyond atoms and chemical reactions. Science may say that this is merely an illusion, but I could equally well say that science deals with mere appearance compared with the reality that I view internally.

With my sense of morality, with my sense of freedom, with my feelings of love I am able to touch something that is beyond human thought. Here is a truth that science cannot explain because it is miraculous.

Science rejects miracles. Water cannot be turned into wine. The dead remain dead and cannot be resurrected. Yet history is full of miracles. The British Army should have been destroyed in 1940. On ninety-nine times out of a hundred given the circumstances it would have been forced to surrender. The war would have been lost. The world would be different. In 1941 the Soviet Army suffered the greatest defeat in history. Under all normal circumstances Moscow should have been captured. Yet somehow it wasn’t. The German Army ought to have pushed the Soviets into the Volga at Stalingrad in 1942, but instead they were annihilated.

Patients who medicine expects to die are sometimes cured. People who have faith that they will get better more frequently do get better than those who think they are done for. When things look hopeless and we cannot imagine how they could possibly get better sometimes they do. Vesna Vulović was a flight attendant on a plane that blew up in mid air but survived the 33,000 feet fall.  Mere chance perhaps.

Science rejects what it cannot understand or else reduces it to something that it is not. Far too many people reject their own humanity when they agree with science.