Thursday 30 April 2020

It has never been more important to recognise that science is dead

I can talk real science as well as most people - but this does not matter on way or the other; because real science is dead - and died some decades ago.

The arguments can be found in my 2012 book Not even trying - which has the following blurb:

The argument of this book in a single paragraph

Briefly, the argument of this book is that real science is dead, and the main reason is that professional researchers are not even trying to seek the truth and speak the truth; and the reason for this is that professional ‘scientists’ no longer believe in the truth - no longer believe that there is an eternal unchanging reality beyond human wishes and organization which they have a duty to seek and proclaim to the best of their (naturally limited) abilities. Hence the vast structures of personnel and resources that constitute modern ‘science’ are not real science but instead merely a professional research bureaucracy, thus fake or pseudo-science; regulated by peer review (that is, committee opinion) rather than the search-for and service-to reality. Among the consequences are that modern publications in the research literature must be assumed to be worthless or misleading and should always be ignored. In practice, this means that nearly all ‘science’ needs to be demolished (or allowed to collapse) and real science carefully rebuilt outside the professional research structure, from the ground up, by real scientists who regard truth-seeking as an imperative and truthfulness as an iron law.

One implication is that we need to replace the word science with bureaucracy, and the word scientist with bureaucrat.

As in:

The science says = The paid-for bureaucracy says

Scientists have advised us = Our bureaucrats have advised us

Follow the science = do, unquestioningly, whatever The System dictates

And so on.

(In case you suspect irony; the above is no exaggeration but literally, pedantically accurate. )


Ingemar said...

I had a conversation with my father regarding my disagreement with the climate change model. (He's not a scientist and I'm a scientist but not "climate.")

His standard refrain was that "9X% of scientists agree" with the climate model and that the dissenters are paid by powerful interests. I tried to counter that the "9X%" of scientists who agree are also paid by powerful interests, but that they're paid lousy wages--that doesn't make the fact that monied interests have the majority of scientists in their pocket invalid.

My "red pill" moment was when a postdoc in a well-known research institute in Southern California discussed his own research with a colleague and exclaimed "IT'S ALL B___S___." This showed me that the publication and peer review process was nothing but a bureaucratic humiliation ritual designed to keep scientists demoralized yet seeking approval for increasingly ephemeral rewards.

Bruce Charlton said...

@I - It's all about truth-seeking and truth-speaking. If this is not an inflexible principle and habit, then there is no science.

This finally because crystal clear to me when I wrote this:

Bruce Charlton said...

Real science is completely ignored; and displaced by the fake bureaucratic variety.

As a topical example of real science - the idea of societal lock-down and social distancing as a method of controlling infectious outbreaks is an untested hypothesis. That is the scientific status of this idea - implemented all over the world: an untested hypothesis.

This is a plain fact of real science - but of course the funded-and-owned bureaucratic professional research system has a very different opinion!

Matthew T said...

"His standard refrain was that "9X% of scientists agree" with the climate model" -- ha, nearly unbelievable to me that people don't get what this actually means, which is just, that 99% of scientists agree with the consensus because... everyone else agrees with it. That's it. "99 percent of scientists" don't study climate and have no more authority than you or I.

Question for you though Bruce, speaking as someone who went through medical school when teaching from the "evidence-based medicine" perspective was the height of fashion - do you think that evidence-based medicine could *theoretically* be a valuable concept if done honestly?

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT. No. The falsity is baked-in. The valid discipline, from which EBM developed, was Clinical Epidemiology. I discuss this in the Zombie science article linked above.