The Worst Attempt To Defend Scientism I Ever Heard

The Worst Attempt To Defend Scientism I Ever Heard

A public radio station hosts what they call “The Academic Minute”, a name which signals you are in for sixty seconds of pain.

This was so in a minute from “Moti Mizrahi, associate professor of philosophy in the school of arts and communication at Florida Institute of Technology”. You go there to listen, or follow the transcript along below as we dissect it.

The term “scientism” is used in the war against science on social media. In much the same way they have co-opted and weaponized the pro-choice phrase “my body, my choice,” anti-vaxxers co-opted and weaponized the philosophical term “scientism” to create mass doubt and disbelief concerning the COVID-19 vaccines, without understanding the various philosophical views that “scientism” encompasses.

Mizrahi blows it right off the bat, missing the scientism embedded in the term “my body, my choice.” Not how’s it’s used—rightly—by anti-mandaters, but how it’s used by women who want an excuse to kill the lives inside them. Can you see why?

To justify killing the lives inside would-be mothers, and get away with it, “science” has to define those lives as non-human. That’s scientism because science cannot define what is, and what is not, life, let alone what is or isn’t human life. Philosophy, with a determined metaphysics, is needed for that. This is so even if your philosophy says it’s okay to kill the lives inside would-be mothers. It’s still a philosophy and not science.

Mizrahi is therefore typical of those scidolators who do not realize they have snuck (you heard me: snuck) philosophy in without acknowledging it and calling it “science”. That is the very definition of scientism: that science knows everything.

Which our Academic in his minute suffers from. Blindly.

The anti-mandaters did not, almost to a man, start anti-vax. They were anti-mandate. They were anti-this vax. Which because of obstreperous government propaganda, and outright easily seen lies (“If you have the vax, you can’t get sick or spread the bug”, lied the highest officials), turned, for some, into complete suspicion of all vaccines. But only for some. In any case, this is not an irrational suspicion for them.

For anti-vaxxers, to get vaccinated is to worship science as a god and to accept science without question. However, there is a continuum between a dogmatic acceptance of science, or “science worship,” which is often mistakenly referred to as “scientism,” and a dogmatic rejection of science, or “science denial.” If “science worship” is misguided, as anti-vaxxers claim, then “science denial” is misguided, too. In fact, dogmatic science denial is more misguided and dangerous than dogmatic science worship.

His first sentence is a preposterous straw man. It is so ludicrous, it is a straw man without straw. It is a punishingly stupid sentence.

What is true is that people were asked to “accept science” and not question it, you denier. Do not do your own research, we were warned—continuously. Questioning the Fabulous Fauci became questioning science itself! Questioning the Canadian government became a crime. Mizrahi is either an ass or he has a memory as porous as the outfits “drag queens” wear to read books to six-year-olds.

Now science worship is a kind of scientism, yes. But it is not scientism itself, which Mizrahi, being an employed academic philosopher, ought to know. Scientism is the false belief, and easily seen false belief, that science has all the answers.

There is no such thing as “science denial.” To say there is is an embarrassment to straw men the world over. If straw men could blush, they would blaze red here. There is specific denial of idiotic, over-certain, and false claims made in the name of science. There is denial that the best thing to do is known by science. Science does not know right from wrong, good from bad, ethical from unethical, best from worst. Science is mute on these questions.

So that when a man comes and tries to sell you “The Final Solution” in the name of science, it is right to tar and feather that man, confiscate his lands, and to sell his children into slavery.

Why? Because science is the most successful knowledge-producing enterprise in human history.

No. False. Not true. How could a philosopher say this? Has he never read a math book? A book on philosophy? The Bible? Shakespeare? Confucius? Has he listened to Beethoven? Seen a Gothic cathedral? Et cetera?

Our best scientific theories provide explanations for phenomena that would otherwise seem mysterious to us, make novel predictions that are borne out by experimentation and observation, and allow us to intervene in nature technologically.

I’m delighted to agree with this. Too bad so many scientists don’t often enough believe, or follow, that “borne out by observation” bit. And instead insist their theories are good because their models are so beautiful. Alas, we cannot have everything.

The view that acknowledges the success of science, especially when compared to non-scientific areas of inquiry, is scientism. Scientism is the view that scientific knowledge is superior to non-scientific knowledge in terms of explanatory, predictive, and instrumental success. So, in the fight against infectious diseases, like COVID-19, we better rely on the best we’ve got, namely, our scientific knowledge of such diseases, or reject science at our own risk.

This is false. This is not what scientism is. No. It is not right. It is determinedly stupid. How can he not know this?

Science is best at what science does best, which is trying to find causes of measurable things. Who could deny this? It stinks at everything else, though. Like at telling people what to do.

It’s not that people are “rejecting science” (at their own risk). It’s that they’re rejecting bad science—especially turds which everybody knows is bad science, and which rulers and Experts hold up as shining examples. And they’re kicking to the sewer, where it belongs, the idea that science knows what’s best.

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  1. JerryR

    Most who say they believe in science actually do not believe in it.

    My guess is that our esteemed professor does not believe in science. If pressed on many of his beliefs, he would be forced to say that they are not supported by evidence and logic or what we call science.

  2. “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

  3. NLR

    The characterization of science as a “knowledge-producing enterprise”, as if you just turn a crank and knowledge pops out, is a major error.

    You can’t separate science from individual scientists who may be knowledgeable or not, honest or not.

  4. Kenan Meyer

    we live in a time where many who have somehow managed to create and publish a website call themselves CEO of its domain name….
    And I wouldn’t be much surprised if one could get a PhD in philosophy by passing some multiple choice test

  5. JH

    For anti-vaxxers, to get vaccinated is to worship science as a god and to accept science without question.

    Isn’t this what you preach all along? (Sorry, I am forgetful and I don’t have the time to search your posts to see if my assessment is correct today. ). If not, then I guess I misunderstand you, just like you misunderstand Moti Mizrahi or Moti Mizrahi misunderstood you, an anti-vaxxes. Speculations are not good for anyone.

  6. Jim Fedako

    Yes. As an example, science can say smoking is bad for your health. It cannot tell you whether or not you should smoke. That is a value outside of science.

  7. Gunther Heinz

    Once while hiking with a scientist, we got caught in an avalanche and while fleeing I tripped, so I yelled to her, “Run, save yourself!” And she answered “Okay!” I never saw her again, because I dumped her.

  8. Milton Hathaway

    “The science says …” seems like a very poor way to start off an argument. Sprinkle a little mental condiment on it (goose-gander sauce, one of my personal favorites) and you can turn it into “the philosophy says …”, which wouldn’t sway anyone. (With apologies to all the philosophers that hang out here, philosophy’s approval rating among the great unwashed lies somewhere between politics and poetry.)

    When you apply ‘appeal to authority’ to polish a faulty point, you run the risk of tarnishing your authority instead. “If the science says that, then the science is an ass.”

  9. Cary D Cotterman

    Gunther Heinz: that’s wisdom.

  10. C-Marie

    And, whatever science says: Women or girls who become pregnant, are mothers, whether they bring their baby to term, kill the baby in the womb, kill the baby after the baby is born, they are not mothers-to-be as the old term says. They are and will always be a mother, whether the child lives or dies. And the fathers of those babies are truly fathers, and always will be fathers, whether the child lives or dies.

    God bless, C-Marie

  11. Rudolph Harrier

    When a Modernist says “this is true” he generally means “this is necessary for my ideology.” They will use the language of truth, but that’s not really how they are parsing the question.

    So for example when you ask a modernist scientist if a man can be a woman if he feels like being a woman, he won’t actually analyze the question in terms of what makes a woman a woman, biological differences, etc. He will begin by asking whether his ideology demands him to say that the man is a woman. Once he determines that it does he will begin saying things like “we now know that transwomen are real women” or “biology tells us that there are no differences between women assigned as such as birth and those who realized they were women later.” But while these statements imply some new discovery or reasoning, in fact that is all just window dressing.

  12. JH


    “One cannot sculpt a piece of rotted wood and paint a wall made of caca. Don’t waste your words on such a person,” said Confucius.

    And I just wasted Confucius’s words, be it unkind, and my time on you.

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