It’s a good thing people are talking about this.
What cargo cult scientists are missing is “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty.” Having this virtue of scientific integrity means following the scientific method: conducting rigorously controlled experiments and following the data wherever they lead. Thus while some of Feynman’s examples of cargo cult scientists may have the trappings of good scientists — e.g., they are professors of psychology at major universities — they lack the true spirit of science. In particular, they are too beholden to their theories to follow the observational evidence wherever it leads.
The cargo cult story offers what philosophers of science call a “demarcation criterion” for science, a feature of genuine science that sets it apart from mere pseudoscience. However, it’s worth looking back at the cargo cults themselves to see precisely what they were missing. These groups apparently did their best to imitate the methodology of the Westerners who imported goods using airstrips. But even if we suppose the cargo cultists had done a better job — and built workable airfields with actual lights and radios, rather than imitations using fires and pieces of bamboo — would that have allowed them to acquire the cargo they sought?More from Big Questions Online.
But wait: “follow the observational evidence wherever it leads”? That’s still okay?
Haven’t we reached the point where “Western math” (= the figures add up, like they did for thousands of years, no matter who did it) is a dehumanizing tool.
See also: How naturalism rots science from the head down
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