But it’s really all that a wornout establishment can provide:
In Nature’s podcast, Livio makes it clear that his purpose in writing [ Galileo and the Science Deniers, ] was to advance the warfare thesis. The podcast speaks flippantly of the “science denialism that we see today.” Surely there is plenty of that in various quarters, but this broad-brush categorization needs clarification that never comes.
Livio: This is one of the main reasons why I decided to write the book. We see science denial all over the place today….
Interviewer: Do you think that there can be any lessons that can be learned?
Livio: Well, the real lesson is “believe in science.” It’s not that science is always right, but science has this ability to self-correct. So we have to believe in science, and we have to put the science first, and before any kind of political considerations, conservatism, religious beliefs and things like that. This is a big lesson.
It seems ironic to advocate “belief in science” when science is about demonstration, not belief. Does Livio mean to imply that belief in science means acquiescence to the scientific consensus at a given time? If the evidence of empirical research contradicts the consensus, would he advocate for denying the evidence to keep the consensus secure? Or alternatively, if he were to exercise the “intellectual freedom” he praises in Galileo, by critiquing a flawed consensus, would that not make him a science denier himself?
To her credit, [reviewer Alison] Abbott notes some weaknesses in the book’s evidential support:
“It’s a chillingly relevant theme, yet the parallels he draws between Galileo’s trial and contemporary science wars feel thin, and there’s a frustrating lack of examples to demonstrate the continuity of denialism through the centuries.”Evolution News, “Zombie History — Using Galileo to Whack Intelligent Design” at Evolution News and Science Today
Abbott might not feel comfortable speculating that the continuity isn’t there. though that’s the most likely reason, in this case, that we don’t hear about it.
In any event, demands for “belief” in science usually mean demands for belief in propaganda marketed as science. When science actually works, like a cure for cancer, everybody believes in it.