Sunday 11 March 2012

C.S Lewis on Charles Williams on salvation of the good pagan via eternity




TimR said...

Off-topic - Sorry for commenting here, I just discovered your writing (via Paul Jaminet) and wasn't sure where to ask this.

I've been happily reading your series "The Story of Real Science", which is very helpful and informative to me as a non-scientist who nevertheless takes an interest in the sociology of science, and particularly how it inter-meshes with the state. It adds to the picture I've seen painted elsewhere of science being corrupted, notably in Gary Taubes's _Good Calories, Bad Calories_ which details the collision of nutrition research with the interests of Big Agriculture (as well as careerism, incompetence, vanity, etc.) Richard K. Moore ( has opened my eyes on this general topic as well, as did Christopher Bryson in his book _The Fluoride Deception_.

My main question though after reading your series is how you interpret Francis Bacon's idea of scientific progress in relation to your own critique of the "Texas sharpshooter" and the bureaucratic or organization scientist. I may very well be wrong - I only know his idea at second-hand, via John Taylor Gatto's _The Underground History of Education_, which I read years ago - so please correct me, but my understanding was that Bacon believed a sort of systematized science could make use of less talented "bureaucrats" and that by sheer dint of numbers and diligence they would slowly but surely accumulate ever greater knowledge of the natural world.

Perhaps this fits somehow with your idea that there might be a place for institutional scientists as data compilers (since this drudgery can mostly only be accomplished by those getting paid) while independent "amateur" scientists of greater talent and motivation could make use of such data?

Thanks again for your writings.

Birmingham, Alabama

Bruce Charlton said...

@TimR - I would regard 'Baconian' ideas about replacing vocational scientists with 'bureaucrats' as having been proved wrong by the past decades experience.

Indeed, bureaucracy is a fundamentally flawed concept, because I don't think even bureacracies can function without a strong vocational (and moral) concept at their core.

When I wrote about institutional scientists as data compliers (in the quant blogging essay) I was being over-optimistic - I now think.