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Google: Should science be equated with truth?

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From Heather Heying, weighing in on the Google foray into post-modern truth, which smacked an unwary engineer upside head, at Quillette:

Should We “Stop Equating ‘Science’ With Truth”?

Damore’s heresy turns on innate differences between men and women that have never been noticed by anyone in the history of human life on the planet except him.

So, of course, the entire obsolescent traditional media melted down in shock. Heying:

Evolutionary biology has been through this, over and over and over again. There are straw men. No, the co-option of science by those with a political agenda does not put the lie to the science that was co-opted. Social Darwinism is not Darwinism. You can put that one to rest. There are pseudo-scientific arguments from the left. Gould and Lewontin, back in 1979, argued, from a Marxist political motivation, that biologists are unduly biased in favor of adaptive explanations, which managed to confuse enough people for long enough that evolutionary biology largely stalled out. And, perhaps most alarming, there are concerns that what is true might be ugly. Those who would impose scientific taboos therefore suggest that it is incumbent on scientists not to ask certain questions, for fear that we reveal the ugly. That, I posit, is what underlies the backlash against Damore’s memo.

To which science and scientists need to respond: the truth is not in and of itself oppressive. To the extent that selection has produced differences between groups, such as differences in interests between men and women, denying the reality of that truth is hardly a legitimate response. More.

Heying is struggling with a problem here that she may be reluctant to discuss. Darwinism is a naturalist metaphysic. People like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett make that quite clear.

To the extent that Darwinism is a metaphysic, Social Darwinism was a logical outcome of Darwinism. And it gave rise to sociobiology, then in turn, evolutionary psychology.

Heying and I agree that Social Darwinism is bunk. I think its descendant sociologies are also bunk. But all of it is bunk with a family history.

Darwinians can’t just raise an army and Fix all the people who suspect that at once.

Heying’s best bet would be to quit being represented by people who see Darwinian evolution as a metaphysic. To just see evolution in general as the history of life, in which explicitly Darwinian evolution is one mechanism among others.

Differences between men and women are best discussed in an environment where evidence is accorded some respect. But that, unfortunately, is not the direction in which much of science is headed just now.

See also: A note on that fired Google engineer (a biology major)… The misrepresentations of this case in outmoded traditional media should wake us up, if we did not already know, that they are simply not useful sources of information anymore.

The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants

How naturalism rots science from the head down

Shift!: The Third Way of evolution is beginning to penetrate science-and-religion yawnfests

and

What the fossils told us in their own words

7 Replies to “Google: Should science be equated with truth?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Yes, we should.

    Science does not give us certain truth. Can you even begin to list all the times we’ve been reminded of that in conversations right here at UD? Usually by an ID critic. Am I right?

    Then they turn right around and act as if science is the only source of truth. Go figure.

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    Should We “Stop Equating ‘Science’ With Truth”?

    Yes, if anyone actually does that. I think that’s not really what Heying’s post is about, though.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    To be clear, I’m saying that the title Heying chose isn’t very representative of her own post.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    “A healthy science is a science that seeks the truth.” Paul Nelson, Ph. D., philosophy of biology.

    “Science is the search for the truth.”- Linus Pauling

    “But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” Albert Einstein

  5. 5
    ichisan says:

    We should never stop questioning science. Everything that comes from the scientific community should be taken with a grain of salt. Human scientists are not to be trusted because they have no honor. Test everything.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    “science” and “truth” are two different conceptual categories, the former associated with knowledge while the latter associated with the reality. We never have complete knowledge of the reality, which exists regardless of how much we know about it. The more we know about the reality, more we have to learn about it. The picture may get clearer as we get closer to it. But it is never complete. It always lacks precision and accuracy.

    Specifically in Biology we see this in the overwhelmingly growing research literature all the time. For example, it is true that morphogenesis occurs in many biological systems, regardless of how much we know about that fascinating process. Today we know much about it, but still don’t understand many things related to it. Previous assumptions get contradicted by new discoveries relatively frequently.

    Science is limited in completeness, accuracy, precision and it changes. Truth (The Ultimate Reality) remains unchanged while our knowledge of it keeps changing. The Ultimate Reality is always complete, accurate, precise.

    However, sadly words are used (abused?) devoid of their contextual meanings. Perhaps I’m making that same mistake here now. 🙂

    One day at work a few engineers –who were engaged in a quasi-philosophical discussion during their break time– asked me what is the opposite of ‘love’. When I requested them to tell me what they meant by ‘love’, they got upset and kicked me out of their office. So much for serious pursuing of knowledge. What else is new? 🙂

    Perhaps that’s why we may encounter somebody trying to equate two different conceptual categories like knowledge and reality. I haven’t seen that kind of nonsense yet, but don’t deny the possibility of it happening (at least in this world). 🙂

    Modern science is pursuing knowledge about the detectable physical reality, which is a minuscule* subset of the Ultimate Reality. Systems Biology, with their circuit logic gates, feedback loops, feed forward loops and all that cybernetics paraphernalia, could be an example.

    (*) should I call it “almost insignificant”

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    Science does not equate with truth. It’s the best method for investigating the nature of observable physical reality but the explanations it generates may be no more than close approximations of that nature or truth. It rather depends on what you mean by “truth”.

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