Human Exceptionalism

More on Pinker and the “Anti Science” Canard

Clive Crook has a good piece in Bloomberg reacting to Stephen Pinker’s defense of scientism in the New Republic, about which I commented here. From Crook’s, “Why Science and Politics Don’t Mix:” 

The conflicting demands of individual liberty, family loyalty and social solidarity (to name just three of many such principles) can’t be resolved by means of facts. There’s no one right formula.

Claiming otherwise isn’t a harmless error. It’s politically toxic. If Pinker believes that the facts are militating toward a scientific morality, what does that say about the people who take a different view of human flourishing? You no longer have a good-faith disagreement between people with different values — you have a clash between scientific enlightenment and intellectual backwardness. That’s not the basis for friendly interaction. It’s no accident that the more aggressive kinds of scientism — the so-called current New Atheism springs to mind — are bullying and intolerant. Intolerance isn’t conducive to human flourishing.

Indeed, and that’s why they scream stridently that anyone with a differing moral view or who dares to challenge scientific orthodoxies as “anti science.” The canard seeks to stifle debate rather than win it.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

March Mailbag

1. In response to this post, about the Fed and fiscal stimulus: “So are you saying that deficit spending is a free lunch because the Fed will keep inflation from happening? You say [extra government spending] won’t ‘raise economic output’ but what’s the harm of it if you’re right?” I see at least ... Read More


For your amusement, I hope, I’ve done a Jaywalking episode. It begins with a bit of the overture to Semiramide -- a Rossini opera I reviewed from the Met last week. Then I get into Russia and, after a while, China. The Marriott company fired an employee for “liking” a tweet by a Tibetan independence group. ... Read More

Campaigns for World Down Syndrome Day Go Viral

As World Down Syndrome Day approaches on Wednesday, several campaigns supporting those with the condition have taken over the Internet. Fifty mothers of children with the condition put together a viral video of them and their children singing along in the car. The video helped the children and their mothers ... Read More

Viva l’Italia?

Italy has just had elections, with very interesting results. I wanted to talk with Alberto Mingardi, which I have. He is one of the leading classical liberals in Italy -- the director general of the Bruno Leoni Institute, in Milan. (Mingardi himself is Milanese.) He is also an authority in arts and letters. In ... Read More

Stand Up to Putin

President Putin’s landslide victory in Russia’s presidential election was achieved against the lackluster competition of a group of mediocre candidates from which the sole serious opponent had been excluded; amid plausible allegations that his security services had tried to poison two Russians in England by ... Read More