"Belief in science"

“Belief in science”

07 May, 2023 3 min read
science, trust, belief, scientific method, knowledge, critical thinking

“Belief in science.”

An expression much beloved, IME primarily by:

  1. those who have no clue what the scientific method implies for blind trust in models/authority, and

  2. those who either

⠀⠀2a. genuinely believe in something for various reasons (some of which valid, others a result of emotional manipulation), or

⠀⠀2b. pretend to believe, because

⠀⠀⠀⠀2b.1. if not, they risk not being part of an “in group”, and/or

⠀⠀⠀⠀2b.2. they stand to gain from the (vocal) pretense.

Science advances by challenging prior models and either refining them by including more factors or discarding them and building entirely new models that should better match observable reality.

Science is not about belief, trust in authority, or claiming a monopoly on the truth.

Not buying hook, line and sinker everything someone with authority claims doesn’t make one “anti-scientific”, a “skeptic”, or a “denialist” (though those, of course, do exist.)

However, doing so does make one gullible, at the very least.

Even if your belief aligns with actual reality, especially if only directionally but not quantitatively, to claim absolute certainty about understanding a complex system, let alone a chaotic one, is best described by the following words:

  • propagandist
  • mis-/disinformation
  • hubris
  • self-important
  • pretentious
  • ignorant
  • unscientific
  • uneducated
  • unlikely

Which word is applicable in any case is difficult to judge. But, rest assured, many claim to care, but only about how to profit.

In the end, pretending to care is fine if those people actually do help address an issue, without making others fatigued, polarized, disconnected, when others’ individual contributions would be welcome or even needed.

Finally, it is entirely logical and possible for the following to happen all at once:

  1. Finding it sensible that anthropogenic factors do, somehow, impact the evolution of Earth’s climate, alongside other factors.

  2. Not being or claiming to be absolutely certain or pretending to know how exactly any factor will impact the trajectory of metrics.

  3. Seeing humankind as part of the planetary system, and not as a scourge upon some arbitrary “natural state of things.”

  4. Pursuing not being a 💩 about one’s individual environmental footprint (i.e. trying to make sensible, win/win/win choices.)

  5. Not expecting that one’s own individual choices will actually matter that much in the grander scale of things.

  6. Concluding that, if the exponential predictions of a model are indeed accurate, then individual linear countermeasures are powerless.

  7. Doubting the seriousness of targets “by 2030” or “by 2050” after seeing no political accountability even on a time horizon of 4 years.

Is this the “right” way? Maybe not. It’s just one of the many possible ways people think about a global issue. But we do shoot our collective leg by painting this as “unacceptable”.

Neither education nor science benefit from absolutism.

PS: When someone is proclaiming to “save the planet”, they are indicating their delusion & narcissism loudly. Run.