Saturday, May 8, 2021

"Follow the Science" and Other Myths


Friends, for the better part of a century Freudian psychoanalysis was considered more or less bulletproof, grounded as it was in biological and medical science.  Today it's widely considered quackery, grounded in little more than the perversions of Sigmund Freud and the heartfelt desire of his adherents to make a quick buck by charging neurotic housewives for "talking cures".  Our perception of what is "scientific", in other words, and what is true, evolves over time, and often we look back on the supposed verities of "science" and cringe.

Well, that is no less true today, given the myriad ways in which science can be bent to follow the dictates of political ideology, corporate greed, personal ambition, and even conventional wisdom.  What follows is an article that explores in a very compelling way the state of modern "science" and its strengths and weaknesses, but most of all its vulnerabilities at a time when "truth" is the most valuable commodity of all.  One of the author's most insightful arguments: nowadays a sense of crisis -- permanent crisis -- drives political change, and we often seek to ratify our sense of threat by claiming that anyone who doesn't share it is an enemy of "science" and of "truth".  No kidding!


Here's an article that suggests that eliminating standardized test scores from the college admissions process will get colleges and universities what they want, in the short term: more minority students.  What it won't achieve, in the long term, is more minorities receiving degrees and enjoying lifelong careers in prestigious fields...which you would think would be the point, no?


Lastly, this article gives a good sense of the media landscape as the dust settles from the 2020 election.  The upshot?  Without anti-Trump angst to buttress the level of public interest, ratings for most mainstream media outlets have crashed, but, more importantly, their partisan and ideological biases remain naked and extreme.  I thought that the media's constant shilling for Biden might cease, once he took office.  I was largely wrong.  The media continues to see Joe Biden as "their man" in D.C.  They shield him from criticism and lavish him with praise.  Very gradually I expect their love affair with Sleepy Joe will abate, but they seem to realize how fragile Biden himself is, and Bidenism too.  The GOP already looks like it's capable of winning one or both houses of Congress in 2022.  Journalists and news editors are drawing the appropriate lesson: if they don't engage in a permanent and frenetic campaign to prop up progressivism and the Democratic Party, both are in danger of losing sway, which is another way of saying that conservatism, populism, and the Republican Party all have a lot of life left in them.  The media is acting like it knows this all too well. 


  1. Dr.Waddy from Jack : The Crawford article is BRILLIANT, on so many levels and points. Kudos aplenty to the author and you for posting it. It is a veritable guidebook to the dynamics of modern scientific discourse, both in its esoteric professional setting and in its political reality. It poses a very effective challenge to such as presumptuous journalist Al Gore, who would blithely enforce "established" doctrine and excoriate any "Galileos" who dare doubt.

  2. Thanks, Jack! I was impressed too. It's shocking just how corruptible a venerable institution like "science" can be, isn't it? As the saying goes, follow the money...

  3. Dr.Waddy from Jack:: My guess is that history would should it has ever been thus and yet, it wasn't opinion which sent Voyagers beyond the Solar System (for astronomy loving kids of the '50s, a thing of surpassing WONDER now), but probably alot of politics were involved.

  4. Oh, for sure: without the politics of the Cold War lighting a fire under us, I doubt if we would have accomplished nearly as much in space.