View Full Version : Scientism?

18-05-06, 14:45
Scientism gets a negative reaction. Many people assume that it is a bad thing, but do we really know what it is?

Its bad reputation is probably based on a definition like this one:
An exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation, as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanitiesThat seems like a pretty shoddy definition to me. Define 'exaggerated' in this context, for a start. Is using fingerprints or DNA to solve crimes 'an exaggerated trust in the methods of natural science applied to the social sciences'? No? What about the genetics behind addiction? Where do we draw the line then?

Michael Shermer has a very different definition:
Scientism is a scientific worldview that encompasses natural explanations for all phenomena, eschews supernatural and paranormal speculations, and embraces empiricism and reason as the twin pillars of a philosophy of life appropriate for an Age of Science If that is scientism, then sign me up! Or do you see something wrong with scientism even in this more favourable definition?

If you think scientism is a bad thing, what do you mean by it and why is it bad? What questions can't be answered by science and reason? Are there areas of human enquiry that science should 'butt out of'?

18-05-06, 16:24
As regards your final question, I think the answer is NO! Science is about investigating the world and finding things out... I think you can apply science to everything. There are a lot of things that are outside of human comprehension, these are the kinds of things that science is investigating and trying to make them comprehensible... to see the order behind things, and also as well as knowing things, to apply knowledge in a useful way that benefits people, too... it's a bit much for me to try and explain, really a scientist needs to explain... but that's just my instinctive feelings.

I think to investigate is human nature and it shouldn't be stopped... and the same with applying reason and logic, and various principles... to make mistakes but still continue on our quest...

I think maybe some people have a problem with the tag '-ism', because it makes 'scientism' sound like a religion... like some people have a 'worship' or 'following' to science in the same way that other people have to a god(s)... in which case the science becomes a 'crutch' for them in the same way that religion can be to others.

But I always thought that science by its nature was provable and therefore had no need of a 'faith' or 'belief' in it...?_?... for example I can't say 'I don't believe in the law of gravity' or 'the existence of DNA' or something like that... @[email protected]

I think the problem with the term 'scientism' is that people associate it to some kind of weird fanaticism. >< I mean, if someone does not believe in a god, they would describe themself as atheist, not 'scientist'... it kind of implies that they take science to a higher level, elevate it to a religion.

20-05-06, 01:20
How come people never blame science for wars? Aren't wars always fought using the latest aplied science? Didn't every conflict in the 20th century contain some sort of scietific or pseudo scientific reasoning behind it? Didn't the science of the Airplane, Machine gun, rifled artillery, tank, poison gas, submarine, chemical weapons and atomic bomb-- take the lives of millions?

C'mon- people blame religion. Isn't blaming science just as fair?

20-05-06, 04:25
Is this another term for scientology? Sorry