The Many Troubles With Science: A Conversation With Jaap Hanekamp About Our Upcoming Book

The Many Troubles With Science: A Conversation With Jaap Hanekamp About Our Upcoming Book

The many troubles of science are these:

  1. Philosophy;
  2. Scientism;
  3. Utopianism;
  4. Catastrophism;
  5. Gnosticism;
  6. Faithlessness.

My pal Jaap Hanekamp and I are writing a book on science, entitled—wait for it—Title Forthcoming. All suggestions for titles will be considered, even bad ones. Title writing is an art which eludes me.

Anyway, we discuss the book’s outline in this video. It went surprisingly well. I mean nothing broke during the recording and I managed not to mumble most of the time.

Maybe you have ideas or questions. Please let us know.

Here’s a rough summary of the video for those, like me, who don’t watch many videos.


Science is the seeking of the cause of measurable things in the world. To do that, a metaphysics is needed. It cannot be escaped. The worst philosophy of science is an unthinking philosophy of science, which is alas the most common philosophy in use by scientists. The mistake many make is to confuse The Way Things Are with knowledge of, or uncertainty in, the way things are. Ontology is not epistemology, and vice versa, though each feeds the other.


The preeminent scidolatrous slogan of our age is “Follow the science!” Without scientism that slogan would not exist.

Science cannot tell us what is best, worst, moral, immoral, right, wrong, but just about everybody thinks it can. I’ve written a lot lately about this, so let’s instead discuss the origin of scientism, a recent ideology in history.


That scientism has to come from somewhere, and that place is Utopia. Which since the oppositely named Enlightenment—remember when they constructed a temple of Reason? located abaft the guillotine, was it?—has been focused firmly on the edenic future that is ours to have if only we eliminate with extreme prejudice those baring the path. Meaning you, dear reader.

Utopianism comes in two forms: the childlike belief in the perfectibility of man, a proposition in precise and hilarious opposition to all (as in all) experience, and the now-shattered belief that science could come to know all causes.

That cultural Utopianism feeds scientism is, I think, more or less obvious, at least to regular readers. The ordinary scientist is likely not to have given the idea much thought, though.

The science can no longer find all causes is, after quantum mechanics, now well accepted. But the realization has caused a kind of psychic pain. Which has led to mulitverses and suchlike bizarraries (you heard me). Worst of all, it has led to a movement where it is believed observations no longer need be had to believe a theory about observations. Theory-strength, or theory-beauty, alone is thought to be sufficient to prove the truth of theory. If that’s not Utopianism, nothing is.

We didn’t get into that aspect so much in the video.


The void created by abandoning tradition and Christianity is being filled with angst, and lots of it. We have a need to believe we are under constant assault by the world. Because, we think, we have sinned against the world. Which means that just because we reject the labels of tradition and Christianity does not mean we have abandoned the idea of sin.

Everything is going to kill us. Global cooling, then global warming, then “climate change”. The ozone was going to abandon us. Dust in the air is strangling us. Nuclear power plants have radiation, and radiation is literally Hitler, electromagnetically speaking. There will be no more water. We can’t eat meat. We can’t use oil. Everything is bad for “the planet” and bad for you.

Now we take pains to explain that, indeed, some things are bad. Have you seen how fat people are today? Something is causing this, and that thing is bad. Or those things. A proper understanding of risk is necessary and must, however, replace the pseudo-religious ideology of precaution.


By this we mean the old-fashioned idea of an adept sect or cabal for whom secret knowledge (gnosis) has been revealed, such that this cabal, which is to say Experts, believe that they, and they alone, must guard and protect this knowledge and keep its inner secrets from the endarkened many. No meddling allowed! Do not do your own research!


The flight from transcendence has removed from science its true foundation. Science in search of an unshakable basis which is not transcendent has wandered into a swamp, upon which nothing solid can ever be built.

But since that subject is large, we shall leave it for another day.

Update Can anybody see to leave comments at YT? You don’t have to leave one, but I changed the comments setting to allow them with approval. Or something. I’m not sure.

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  1. JerryR

    There are many things wrong with our modern world.

    The two main things are the abandonment of Christianity and the attacks on freedom. These are the two things that have built the modern world.

    But another along the way to this disaster facing us is a lack of seriousness. It is the the search for cleverness of expression which the internet and this OP is a prime example. It is a complete lack of understanding of what is actually happening. But are we smart!

    See how witty I am by how I can use allusions that are not direct and often have several meanings. But are meant not to clarify but to show how ingenious I am.

    I just hope the book lacks any of this and actually lays out clearly what science is. Actually what epistemology is which is the process of understanding truth.

  2. Hagfish Bagpipe

    ”All suggestions for titles will be considered, even bad ones.”

    If you’re going to sell science you need to sex it up a bit to make it interesting to the average reader. And “Jaap” may be a nice guy but his name sounds like some buck-toothed samurai in coke-bottle glasses, and Briggs your name has Titanic baggage, so by applying a little polish with pizzazz we get:

    How to be Smart, Rich, and Beautiful while Losing Weight and having LOTS OF SEX utilizing The Science™? Method. by Dr. Livingston Bottlefloss and Dr. Bartholomew Bufferthwaite

    Best Seller!

  3. Briggs


    Best one yet.

  4. I am not good at titles either, but a challenge made is a debt unpaid so..

    1 – riffs on existing titles:

    1.1 – The limits to Science
    1.2 – The madness of funders
    1.3 – Useless Thinkers: understanding the delusions of science
    1.4 – Forms of Belief

    2 – Joyceanisms (for the wake)

    2.1 P’ing on Science

    (what is the letter “P” called in Russian?)

    2.2 Science, Pain, and Politics

    (bread = money)

    3 – implicit commentary

    3.1 Murphy’s 2nd

    (Law; not lt; “the majority is always wrong”)

    3.2 – 50 ways to leave The Science

    ok, I’ll see myself out now

  5. Briggs

    Paul, I like the last best.

  6. JerryR

    Two things:

    I found the most interesting part of the video to be the mention of Ulrich Beck. Probably one of the modern architects of our current problems. His ideas should be addressed. I only found out about his existence and some of his ideas this morning.

    Second for a title, “The Science of Knowledge” or “The Science of Sciences.”

  7. Robert Cihak, MD, DDP board member

    Book title: Breakthroughs in Silly Science (I love alliteration)

  8. Briggs


    Not too bad.

  9. Uncle Mike

    The abandonment/rejection of Christianity is more than mere intellectualism or “advancement” away from mysticism. It is a rejection of the ethics of Christianity.

    The fundamental characteristic of Christian ethics is love for one’s fellow humans, valuing people, kindness and goodwill towards others. Also loving God, but don’t all religions teach that? Christianity is the only religion that teaches, indeed commands, love towards others. [Please review The Sermon on the Mount for further explication].

    Those who reject Christianity do so because they reject that specific commandment. They might claim differently, they might claim some other aspect turns them off, but the truth is they hate others and are loathe and afraid to stop hating.

    Dysanthropy, the hatred of humanity, is in direct diametric opposition to Christianity at the most fundamental level. Dysanthropy is ascendant today. It dominates philosophy, ethics, behaviors, policies, politics, and The Science. Scientism is dysanthropy at its core.

    You and Jaap might consider adding a section 7 on dysanthropy. It really is as important to The Collapse of Science as any of the others.

  10. Jim Fedako

    “A Feirean Interrogation of Paternalistic Discourses Centered on the Dysmorphic Spaces, Dehumanization, and the Binary Essentialism of Neo-Marxist Science.”

    It will be the best-selling -ism primer at all universities.

    You can jar-tip me a fiver for the suggestion.

  11. Briggs


    We already tried that one.

    Uncle Mike,

    Not a bad idea.

  12. john b()

    Paul Murphy

    Are you too clever? (I WAS going to answer the question …)

    P’ing on Science
    (what is the letter “P” called in Russian?)
    So in English it’d be Peeing on Science
    In Russian it’d be Erring on Science

    There’s always

    F’ing Up Science
    (Can We Give It Back Its Virginity?)

  13. Gunther Heinz

    You forgot UXORIOUSNESS. Look it up.

  14. DAA

    Title suggestion: “SCIRE – The Nature of Knowledge” or “SCIRE – The Nature of Science” or “What is it all about?”

    Variations thereof are easy to comeby.

  15. Wayne D Schmitt

    Book title: “I humbly beseech you to buy this Book!”

  16. Briggs


    Do we really need the ‘humbly’?


    I like it. Thanks.

  17. Wayne D Schmitt

    I demand that you include ‘humbly’! If not, you must pull my contribution from consideration.

  18. Dors

    Here is what crossed my mind while reading and listening to the above, in ten points. The questions contained are merely for consideration, rather than to be answered.

    1. First write the text, then choose the title — mother used to tell me.

    2. Ontology vs. epistemology : So, it’s like the overstating of the importance of the DNA?

    3. On one hand, men have the quality of transcendence, nowadays woefully disregarded. On the other hand, there is this utterly irrational belief in perfectibility of man….
    Wait a minute…
    What if belief in human perfectability is a new form of belief in human transcendence?
    In fact, there was this guy who, years ago, argued something like that, and his name was David F. Noble. He devoted a whole book to that.

    4. ‘Belief in the perfectibility of man is a proposition in precise and hilarious opposition to all experience.’
    So, god forbid you write this book to perfect anything in any man?
    But, I trust you’ll perfect what you mean by perfectability.

    5. ‘Academics are often observed to be the most gullible:’ Many of your readers have seen this graph about vaccine scepticism across education levels, … Maybe a good idea for us to check the study behind it.

    6. “Faithlessness … since that subject is large, we shall leave it for another day.”
    Yes, conveying that subject is a daunting task.

    7. Insofar you would bring up Christianity, it’s good to ask :
    What will the reader get from references to Christianity if he is (perhaps a scientist) from China, Iran, India…
    or if he has read Joseph Needham’s several volumes’ study of the development of science in pre-modern China.

    8. Extinction Rebellion is based on utopianism? As someone who doesn’t follow the news and doesn’t pay attention to ER, this came as a surprise.

    9. Utapianists, you say, think like this: “The world would be wonderful (/perfect) if it weren’t for them, we must get rid of them.” How about this argument:
    “Utopianists threaten our very existence, so we must get rid of the, before they get rid of us. Of course, preferably peacefully, but possibly by force if necessary… After all, our country has been founded partly through bloodshed, it stands to reason that it should be defended with bloodshed.”
    What, if anything, is wrong with this line of thought?

    10. On causality:
    “Causation, which was invented in 1663, very specifically, causality is an illusion of the intellectually lazy. The idea that we can identify, out of the plurality of conditions in the universe, every single factor that creates the condition giving rise to a thing, is as hubris-filled, and delusional, as the Council of Nicaea was in the third century, trying to pretend that they can take the infinite of the divine, and dictate in a couple of paraghraphs the sum total of what it meant to have religion. This idea, that we can be reductionist to the point of stupidity, where we decide that we’re going to pick the ontology and the frame in which we’re to understand nature, and have the audacity of saying “we’re going to get causation,” is beyond the pale of idiocy.”

    — here, from 05:50:

  19. Briggs


    Many thanks.

  20. Joy

    Uncle Mike,
    This is so true, would that witnesses to Christianity all looked like that commandment.
    Agreeing with everything that you have said on this matter, here and elsewhere.
    John’s Gospel As well as the one you mentioned.

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