In case you wondered what would happen when postmodernism gets science by the throat:
Discover Magazine thought they should make it clear:
Now for the good news. The scientific method is nothing but a piece of rhetoric. Granted, that may not appear to be good news at first, but it actually is.
No, it isn’t good news, unless we believe that evidence is whatever the Party says it is. But, in fairness, many science writers are not far off that.
The scientific method as rhetoric is far more complex, interesting, and revealing than it is as a direct reflection of the ways scientists work.
Science fiction functions that way too, but then it claims no authority beyond the box office.
Rhetoric is not just words; rather, “just” words are powerful tools to help shape perception, manage the flow of resources and authority, and make certain kinds of actions or beliefs possible or impossible.
Elsewhere, it is called propaganda.
That’s particularly true of what Raymond Williams called “keywords.” A list of modern-day keywords include “family,” “race,” “freedom,” and “science.” Such words are familiar, repeated again and again until it seems that everyone must know what they mean. At the same time, scratch their surface, and their meanings become full of messiness, variation, and contradiction.
The scientific method was supposed to impose order by insisting on some concrete relationship to evidence-based thinking. If that’s not happening and no one think it needs to happen, why force the taxpayer to fund science?
Still, the scientific method did what keywords are supposed to do. It didn’t reflect reality — it helped create it. It helped to define a vision of science that was separate from other kinds of knowledge, justified the value of that science for those left on the outside, and served as a symbol of scientific prestige. It continues to accomplish those things, just not as effectively as it did during its heyday.
Could that be in some way related to
If we return to a simplistic view, one in which the scientific method really is a recipe for producing scientific knowledge, we lose sight of a huge swath of history and the development of a pivotal touchstone on cultural maps. We deprive ourselves of a richer perspective in favor of one both narrow and contrary to the way things actually are.
Is there a way things actually are? That is precisely what comes to be doubted.
Surely that’s the price that one pays to protect—and publicly fund—evolutionary psychology, crackpot cosmology, Darwinism (the single greatest idea ever invented, according to fans, and a host of other beliefs that would not otherwise make the cut.
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I get the mail around here, so here are some other comments that came in, including a quotation from C. S. Lewis:
The physical sciences, then, depend on the validity of logic just as much as metaphysics or mathematics. If popular thought feels ‘science’ to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular thought is mistaken. Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic. We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought. ( De Futilitate)
Tell that to the post-moderns in science, Jack. Logic is just something else that needs debunking.
Also: from another correspondent,
As a rule, I begin my lectures on Scientific Method by telling my students that scientific method does not exist. I add that I ought to know, having been for a time at least, the only professor of this non-existent subject within the British commonwealth. —Realism and the Aim of Science, Karl Popper, p. 5.
But then he also proposed falsifiability, with which the postmoderns have waged war ever since.
Maybe it comes down to this: The scientific method exists if and only if it is smoke, mirrors, and glam noises aimed at getting an otherwise questionable or downright ridiculous thesis lodged as “science” in people’s minds. That’s so post-modern it deserves its own TV series, with branded products rollouts.
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