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When people claim that “the science” says this or that…

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Edward Feser

Discussing the recent essay by medical statistician John Ioannidis on the was politicization and shoddy research around COVID-19 are corrupting science, philosopher Edward Feser focuses on a couple of his points, including this one, “the deleterious role that social media have played”:

Over the course of the pandemic, people of all political persuasions have confidently asserted that “the science” says this or says that, when in fact most of them have not read what scientists themselves have written and wouldn’t know where to find it if they wanted to. Rather, what they know is what politicians and journalists have claimed about what “the science” says. Worse, they know the simplified versions of what politicians and journalists have said that they find at Twitter, Facebook, and the like. The doubly indirect nature of this knowledge of the scientific research already entails significant distortions. Politicians and journalists of all stripes have biases, lack relevant expertise, etc. and this inevitably distorts their presentation of scientific findings. And when their own presentations are reduced to sound bites by social media, there is bound to be further distortion.

But it’s worse even than that. For one thing, social media do not merely oversimplify complex issues. They positively foster irrational habits of thought – snap judgments, snark and one-upmanship in place of dispassionate debate, groupthink, and so on. And too many scientists active on social media have succumbed to these temptations, which erodes the Mertonian norm of disinterestedness.

Edward Feser, “Ioannidis on the politicization of science” at Edward Feser blogspot (September 11, 2021)

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

4 Replies to “When people claim that “the science” says this or that…

  1. 1

    Don’t trust Politicians. Trust Scientists.
    Don’t trust Social media. Trust the established media.
    Give me a break.

    Politicians untrustworthy? Check
    Social media untrustworthy? Check.
    But Scientists, and Established media? Theyre trustworthy?
    Yeah right.

    Trust Scientists. Like ALL the top Biologists, who have lied for 70 years. They lied when they taught billions of people that “the Miller Urey experiment made the building blocks of life”
    When Miller and Urey only made achiral amino acid molecules, that are never found in living things, which only have homochiral ones that are the true building blocks are life.

    Thrust the established media. Like the New York Times, ABC, NBC, NPR the Washington Post, Lancet, the New England Journal, etc., who lied about the origin of covid,
    They lied when the stated that the idea that Covid came from the Wuhan laboratory was “a fringe theory, put out by conspiracy mogers, that has been debunked by leading Scientists”

    A disturbing question:
    When your science establishment, most prestigious media, your gatekeepers, and your experts all lie, why would a rational person believe ANYTHING that they say?,

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    When you try to browbeat people into accepting some scientific claim, insult them for raising questions about it, loudly make a political statement out of adherence to it, etc., then you are inevitably only going to increase people’s doubts about its scientific status. For if it really had the evidence and the best arguments on its side, what need would there be for the pressure tactics?

    It says something about science, which supposedly has all the truth. Even with evidence and arguments, some science can come down to whoever created the narrative and has the money and power. Peer reviewed papers where later it is discovered that results cannot be replicated means there’s some level of accountability, at least. But even the refutation of a paper will carry no clout if it gets no publicity. Evolution is a classic case. There’s no single-story for the supposed origin of human life, there’s not even a consensus on what part of the globe humans first emerged from. One new paper overlaps with another. Nobody bothers to detail precisely which papers have been falsified when a new finding comes out. All of the old research papers just persist. The authors do not retract them when new findings refute the old. You can read something from 2017 and never know that something from 2019 refuted it. Papers just float out in scientific-publication-space and nobody keeps score on which evolution papers are correct and which are now supposedly useless.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I read everything I can by Dr. Feser. His animosity towards ID is a blind spot, although he is shifting a little bit at a time, but he is brilliant nonetheless – a great philosopher and critic of atheism.

  4. 4
    OldArmy94 says:

    Great article by Dr. Feser, and the conclusions drawn are readily applicable to Darwinian evolution and global warming (aka, climate change).

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