Re: On Science and Scientism

by Jonah Goldberg

Derb -

A very quick search of the Corner archives for chapter-and-verse reveals a few things. First, it shows that it’s very hard to find what you want quickly in the Corner archives!

Second, it shows that we’ve been around this horn many times. Here’s a list of posts with the word “scientism” in them (though I think some may be missing).

One exchange I recall is when you said that “If only PH.D.s in the sciences had the vote, we should have Libertarian govt.” I objected, and to your credit, you clarified your position so as to agree with me that you were wrong! (always a sign of a keen mind and sound judgment if you ask me). You can find the whole exchange here (your initial post is at 8:11).

I also have in mind our lengthy exchanges on the issue of whether fathers “matter.” Your position, in a nutshell, was “not so much” (peers and genes are more important, sayeth you). Mine was “that’s nuts.” Here are two posts from that round-robin. In the course of that discussion, you seemed to sound as if science is a source of values more than I think is possible. I don’t want to rehearse all of the old arguments, but my view is that science is not a source of values. It can inform — mightily — how we apply our values, but it is not so useful on what our values should be. It doesn’t always sound — which is to say I may be mis-hearing you — that you and I are on the same page in this regard. I have other instances in mind, but I can’t find them easily and my sloth is in full bloom.

Again, I don’t think you are guilty of scientism just that you sometimes sound a bit too much like you are.

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