Monday, January 18, 2016

Science and Scientism

Most of you readers realize that I am a Scientist.  Sure, I am a professor, and profs, teach don’t they? Yes we teach, but in reality, our main job isn’t teaching but science. Science can lead to FUNDED research, and research enhances a Uni’s reputation, as well as their pocketbook. And that pocketbook always wants to be fed.

I love science, and it is a fun and funny endeavor. I enjoy the quest for discovery, and the discovery.  I enjoy asking questions, and research is the means to find answers.  Plus, in our culture, research is very popular with the public,  I usually don’t say much about research, because it can become boringly complex fairly quickly.

Science is the quest for knowledge, but scientism is the fervent belief that science is the ONLY true source of knowledge!  Science may or may not be safe, but scientism is NEVER safe.

Science, by its very nature, confines itself to the study of nature.  Thus, it cannot say anything about things above or beyond nature.  Science deals with the observable, and generally the quantifiable.  As my friend Dan says it, “Science can tell us HOW to kill our mother-in-law; however, it can never tell us whether or not we SHOULD kill our mother-in-law”.  Thus, science is kind of limited in what types of questions it can answer.

And, surprising to some, science is quite often WRONG!!


Yep, science gets it wrong, on many occasions.  Don’t believe me?  Google “Earth Day predictions, 1970”.  That should be good for a few laughs, and should illustrate the errors science makes, but often doesn’t admit.

As the famous scientist, Yogi Bera, said it, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. “

So, don’t let us scientists convert you to scientism.  It will always let you down.


  1. Perhaps scientism is cleverer than science. From a cultural perspective the former trumps the latter almost every time. After all, isn't that how blind faith is supposed to work?

  2. The bible tells us Husbands to live with our wives in an understanding manner...So if researching a "Subject" makes me a Scientist I maybe one...Just a bad one:)