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New Scientist frets over future backlash against science


By 2076. From Michael Brooks at New Scientist:

Will we still love technology when robots have taken our jobs, or when insurance companies demand huge premiums because humans are the most dangerous drivers on the roads? Will people smash up self-driving taxis, just as Luddites attacked automated looms?

In some small, angry pockets, the backlash is already in full swing. Former mathematician Ted Kaczynski, aka The Unabomber, has just published a book called The Anti-Tech Revolution. (paywall) More.

It’s helpful that the Unabomber is an entirely average American (“Kaczynski killed three and injured 23 people over the course of an 18-year bombing campaign that often targeted universities and airlines.”) Like all the other rubes, boobs, bubbas, hicks, and hillbillies…

Note how the perceived threats are assumed to derive from folklore believed by ignorant masses.

Disillusionment with science will far more likely derive from an increasing preference for non-evidence-based thinking, including:

– a war on falsifiability in order to entrench, without evidence, naturalist doctrines such as the existence of a multiverse

– a growing belief that humans are not capable of reality-based thinking (so one can make up a “narrative” for whatever policy makers decide is good for us to believe).

– science journalism that makes a merit of claiming that sometimes “there aren’t two sides to a story” or “the debate is over.” Sometimes, that is true. But people who make such assumptions lose the ability to know when it is and when it isn’t. Put another way, the debate is always over when it suits them.

And let’s not forget: an unreformed (and maybe unreformable?) peer review system.

It’s so easy for elites of any sort to forget that credibility, like respect, is earned, not imposed. Only silence can be imposed.

See also: Royal Society Meet: No “fisticuffs”; serious questions smothered instead

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