Discoveroids Attack the “Church” of Science

This one is delightfully overflowing with unintended irony. It’s at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog, titled From Matt Ridley, Smart Remarks on Scientocracy — and a Howling Irony, and it was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

There were some excellent comments about science and scientocracy from Matt Ridley in a weekend interview in the Wall Street Journal — but also a howling irony. Ridley, a self-professed “science critic,” distinguishes science as a “philosophy,” a way of seeking knowledge with roots in the Enlightenment, from science as a self-promoting, self-protecting “institution,” a “global guild.”

That sounds like a reasonable distinction. But Klinghoffer reacts strangely to Ridley’s views:

“Conformity,” Mr. Ridley says, “is the enemy of scientific progress, which depends on disagreement and challenge. Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts, as [the physicist Richard] Feynman put it.” Mr. Ridley reserves his bluntest criticism for “science as a profession,” which he says has become “rather off-puttingly arrogant and political, permeated by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.” Increasing numbers of scientists “seem to fall prey to groupthink, and the process of peer-reviewing and publishing allows dogmatic gate-keeping to get in the way of new ideas and open-minded challenge.”

Okay, Ridley doesn’t approve of groupthink. Klinghoffer tells us:

In Mr. Ridley’s view, the scientific establishment has always had a tendency “to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma and expelling heretics and blasphemers.” This tendency was previously kept in check by the fragmented nature of the scientific enterprise: Prof. A at one university built his career by saying that Prof. B’s ideas somewhere else were wrong. In the age of social media, however, “the space for heterodoxy is evaporating.”

Egad — is science turning into some kind of church? Klinghoffer continues:

Isn’t that the truth? Science as a “church” policing its members for their obedience to “dogma,” pursuing and “expelling heretics and blasphemers.” That’s the experience of ID proponents in academia, tracked and punished by the Darwinists, in a nutshell.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, it’s a cruel world. Let’s read on:

And yet…Ridley needs to put in a dig at intelligent design [Gasp!], right in the middle of some smart remarks about what’s worrisome about the hankering of scientists to be put in charge of everyone, as in the present pandemic.

[Klinghoffer quotes from the Journal article, which quotes Ridley:] He asks: “If you think biological complexity can come about through unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?” Science as an institution has “a naive belief that if only scientists were in charge, they would run the world well.” Perhaps that’s what politicians mean when they declare that they “believe in science.” As we’ve seen during the pandemic, science can be a source of power.

Klinghoffer is confused. He tells us:

I’m not sure what that even means. Because, in the evolutionary perspective, brilliant invention emerges from mindless material processes, therefore brilliance in a societal context will emerge readily even if unintelligent people run the government? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the worldview, the values, of those in government more than on their IQ. People of low, average, or high intelligence, if they’ve got a faulty picture of reality projecting at the back of their thoughts, can do a lot of damage if you put them in charge.

This is just weird. We don’t need government to run our lives. All they have to do is keep us free. See The Folly of Economic Creationism.

In his final paragraph, Klinghoffer attacks Ridley:

What is the function of the dig at ID, though? It seems to me it is to provide self-protection. [Groan!] Science is a “global guild” and this “critic” is assuring readers that despite sounding like a “heretic” or a “blasphemer” — perhaps even like one of those intelligent design rascals — he’s really quite safe and tame. He is a member of the “church” in good standing…well, maybe not perfect standing, but good enough for a hearing by the mainstream media. Unfortunately, that undercuts the cogency of much of the rest of what he has to say.

Tragic. Absolutely tragic. Ah well, what else would we expect from the Discoveroids?

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10 responses to “Discoveroids Attack the “Church” of Science

  1. Evolution is irrefutably correct which I can demonstrate with the following logical proof:

    Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. This everyone understands to be God.

  2. Theodore J Lawry

    I don’t understand how the passing reference to ID counts as a “dig.” It seemed to be on ID’s side, if anything.

  3. Dave Luckett

    “If you think biological complexity can come about through unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?”

    This is, of course, argument from analogy, but the analogy is idiotic, anyway.

    Obviously, human society does not need an ‘intelligent government’. Many human societies exist or have existed without an institution of government at all, let alone an intelligent one. Many others have no intelligent government, in the sense of rational direction towards some stateable purpose. I mentioned, recently, the existence of the Aston-Martin Vulcan, a vehicle of quite terrifying uselessness, waste and cost, and utterly irrational. Governments around the world have been, and still are, as irrational as that.

    It’s true that I think human society is better for intelligent government, in the sense of being better for its members; but societies function under governments that could not care less for the welfare of the people under them, and some have governments whose only goal is the continuance of their own existence.

    Further, “design” in the context of government, is suspect in itself, and the larger or more comprehensive the design, the more so. The Law of Unintended Consequences has teeth that are not seen until they bite.

    Dearie me, if the best Klunkplonker can come up with is argument from analogy, is it asking too much of him to find one that actually works?

  4. @Dave Luckett points out yet another disanalogy that fails to support ID.
    My guess is that K. does not see it that way, thinking that societies are purposely designed. and is objecting to the dismissal to the analogy. That is the only way that I can understand the point of his article.
    I am aware of my lack of understanding of sociology, and I don’t pretend to have much to offer about it.

  5. Ridley is not a Creationist, though he is a Climate-Change Denier. He is best known on these shores as the disgraced Chairman of Northern Rock, censured by Parliament for his mismangement of that bank (which failed) in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

    Unsurprisingly, he’s also a Brexiteer…

  6. @Megalonyx, Riddley Is an interesting complex character. As well is everything you say, he is a trained biologist, having done a doctorate in Oxford on how pheasants mate, and a distinguished science writer (I have two of his books on my shelves). At the same time, he is a rabid free marketeer, climate change denialist as you mentioned, and it would seem from the excerpt above an opponent of government action to reduce the spread of disease. He favours the self organisation of society, rather than government, while apparently completely oblivious to the fact that government *is* part of the self organisation of society.

    So he’ll be a natural ally of the DI regarding climate change, small government, and opposition to those wicked consensus-building scientists who give us climate science. On the other hand, he is himself part of the group of wicked consensus-building scientists who give us evolution science.

    And once again, we have the DI complaining about alleged persecution of non-Darwinian scientists in secular institutions, while being strangely silent about the very well documented institutionalised persecution of the deniers of young Earth creationism by an entire group of US universities; https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/credit-where-none-is-due-and creationist-colleges-and-courses/

  7. @ Paul Braterman: The link to your blog appears defective. Is it the same article as appeared here, in 3 Quarks Daily?

  8. I am amused by the frequent claim for the “literate” fall of Adam.
    That the there was a literate fall of Adam in the Bible would be a case where Adam moved suddenly downward. Tripped, perhaps. But I don’t remember any instance of that in the Bible. Is the verb “fall” ever used in reference to Adam in the Bible? When did the figurative use of “fall”, a downward motion in status, begin to be used in reference to Adam’s fall from grace?

  9. @Megalonyx; thanks. I need to attend to that. Yes, same article