How ignorance of science and clickbait headlines are destroying the public’s perception of scientific endeavors.
This morning I opened my news to find this grandiose falsehood parading as legitimate scientific information:
Here is the sum total of things that we KNOW about the universe as a result of science — ZERO.
Science is a method for creating models. The point of those models is creating predictions, not absolute truth. And those models change over time as new information comes to light. Science never provides absolute knowledge, and claims to doing so are far more religious than scientific in nature.
Yet the norm in science journalism has become to make absolute claims, couched in larger-than-life language that has more to do with ad revenue than science. And this is a major problem.
As I have previously written, from the very beginning science was intended to avoid the folly of absolutes. It was meant to be a door that is always open. And it was supposed to be a personal method of investigation, not a cadre of experts whose pronouncements became the law of the land. The early scientists did not work to destroy the theocracy only so it would be replaced with a scientocracy.
Science journalism, in its lust to expand readership, has created an image of scientific endeavors that is virtually indistinguishable from religious dogma. It does so because the people writing this trash are barely trained in science, let alone the history and philosophy of science. And it takes for granted some unverifiable assumptions like realism, physicalism and positivism — things which science journalists typically haven’t even the first clue about.
In their giddy anti-intellectual fervor, science journalists have managed to skew the public’s perception of science in ways that are completely unscientific. The profit motives of scientific journalism outlets have destroyed the founding motivations of the entire scientific enterprise.
Trust me, this will not end well. This is precisely a recipe for creating conditions in which tyrants and dictators are able to persuade the public to accept and support destructive policies and endeavors so long as they are wrapped in sciencey-sounding language. It is giving birth to a new priesthood who can avoid reason and ethics so long as they can convince the public that their dictates are based in science, regardless of whether they are or not.
Now I shall retire to my frustrations and await the inevitable, and excessively ironic, condemnations that I just don’t believe hard enough. Ugh.