Science denialism

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on July 30th, 2020, 11:02 am 

Truth be told I have as much difficulty with some of the more extremist anti-Trump types who seem to elevate him to almost supernatural levels (as has been done too many times in the past with people like Hitler). I don't view Trump as a monster, the height of evil, etc. I actually do see him as a product of poor parenting, etc, that resulted in an all too common set of cognitive/behavioural disorders now categorized as narcissistic sociopathy coupled with the inheritance of unusual wealth that just happened to coincide with the "right" social political circumstances. It has happened before and it can and will happen again,potentially in any kind of political context (is, within the left, right or center), and perhaps the biggest danger can be that we insist it is unusual and out of our control. Since I very much hope that this historical blip will be over in less that 100 days, I think we should count our selves lucky, because things could have been lots worse, and try to learn from this. And one of the lessons I think we should pay attention to is how the other side could be every bit as bad in their hysterical extremism.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 30th, 2020, 1:33 pm 

TheVat » July 30th, 2020, 2:59 pm wrote:Though not without moments of comic relief, like Trump promoting the "demon sperm" and "alien DNA" doctor as a trustworthy medical authority. (Toucana put up a post on that, in Science News thread, "a brief history of science denial ")

Those sorts of extreme avatars of superstition could possibly even have a positive effect, triggering a counterreaction. You don't always win a culture war with total batshit crazy.

(that said, if Trump's mother had dream sex with a demonic incubus while carrying Donald, that could explain our present situation...)


I know, that occurred to me too, although I think - at least, I hope - sense will prevail when the time comes. And it may be now (no philosophical puns intended).
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on August 11th, 2020, 8:34 am 

As a bit of a follow-up, a fairly recent book (David Reich 2018 "Who We Are And How We Got Here: Ancient DNA And The New Science Of The Human Past") discusses some very interesting findings including some things about human evolution that can and cannot be explained by natural selection. Definitely worth the read.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Serpent on August 11th, 2020, 10:52 am 

Forest_Dump » July 30th, 2020, 10:02 am wrote:Truth be told I have as much difficulty with some of the more extremist anti-Trump types who seem to elevate him to almost supernatural levels (as has been done too many times in the past with people like Hitler).

What makes Hitler 'almost supernatural'? What puts him, in particular, beyond the pale of comparison with other megalomaniacs? What made Hitler an icon was WWII - all the legends. Otherwise, as dictators go, he was nothing special. What he did have was an unusually efficient, disciplined, loyal and organized machinery of oppression. Stalin's was pretty effective, too - and on an even bigger scale. Trump has only a relatively small atrocity on his books -- so far -- that he got away with, under the so-called Rule of Law, with a Constitution and Congress in place. What will he do when his consolidated his power?

I don't view Trump as a monster, the height of evil, etc. I actually do see him as a product of poor parenting, etc,

Wouldn't that be true of all our monsters?
Because he's so evil-clownish, and because that meme is rooted in popular culture, the people who should have taken steps to prevent this presidency failed to take him seriously as a threat. And wasn't that true of Hitler in 1936?
that resulted in an all too common set of cognitive/behavioural disorders now categorized as narcissistic sociopathy coupled with the inheritance of unusual wealth that just happened to coincide with the "right" social political circumstances. It has happened before and it can and will happen again, potentially in any kind of political context (is, within the left, right or center),

Yes, the political label doesn't matter. The personnel do. The cultural, economic and especially the emotional climate of the nation is what makes all the difference.
I'm reasonably sure we could draw up a scientific chart of necessary environmental conditions that produce out-of-control leaders. The wannabe's are always lurking; it takes a particular kind of historical moment to lift them onto a throne.
Certainly, but perhaps the biggest danger can be that we insist it is unusual and out of our control.

Every dictator does his utmost to take 'it' out of 'our' control. They usually succeed, and regaining that control from them is usually very expensive.
Since I very much hope that this historical blip will be over

He's quite determined not to let that happen.
in less that 100 days, I think we should count our selves lucky, because things could have been lots worse, and try to learn from this.

They will be, and a large portion of the American population is is already beyond learning.
And one of the lessons I think we should pay attention to is how the other side could be every bit as bad in their hysterical extremism.

No, that's not possible. Trump is not 'a side' or a faction or anything like that. He's a singularity - something right outside the spectrum of normal political process. That's what makes him so dangerous. I don't believe there is another one like him in the wings at this moment - because one of the characteristic things megalomaniacs always do is wipe out rivals and potential usurpers.

I realize this doesn't properly belong here, except in that the Trump regime is aggressively anti-science, and if it's allowed to continue, will grow stronger and more virulent. They will start persecuting, runining and possibly imprisoning scientists. There is plenty of historical precedent.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby TheVat on August 11th, 2020, 12:30 pm 

With National Socialism, there was a respect for science that turned into a fault. The elevation of science (some of it not very good science, like eugenics or the appropriation of social sciences for propaganda and mass control) and technology by fascists later led to a disillusionment with science and cast doubt on science as a pure discipline seeking truth and the betterment of the human condition. Those echoes of distrust in science are still reverberating today.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on August 11th, 2020, 12:33 pm 

I think you need a coup d'etat :-)
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Serpent on August 11th, 2020, 3:12 pm 

TheVat » August 11th, 2020, 11:30 am wrote:With National Socialism, there was a respect for science that turned into a fault. The elevation of science (some of it not very good science, like eugenics or the appropriation of social sciences for propaganda and mass control) and technology by fascists later led to a disillusionment with science and cast doubt on science as a pure discipline seeking truth and the betterment of the human condition. Those echoes of distrust in science are still reverberating today.

I think it`s considerably worse than echoes or reaction. There is a well-established pandering by the political right to the religious right, that goes back to Nixon pandering to the ultra-conservative fringes - including fundamentalist https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F9781137014795_8Christians and segregationists https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133. Nixon was gone by then, but the GOP campaign organizers glommed onto a good vehicle and stopped for all hitchhikers; they picked up all the white supremacist, rabid pro-lifers, anti-vaxers, Creationists and flat-earthers.

The central anti-secular message is: "They want to kill God, take away your guns and SUV's, make America weak and destroy the Family!"
Over time, with the addition of more extreme fringes that voice their demands ever more shrilly, this position solidifies into a general distrust of all factual knowledge and reason. With the advancement of one subordinate group after another, the 'left' is increasingly seen as tearing down the conceptual barriers that keeps the natural elite on top - with the use of their evil science, they keep proving that people of another gender, color, culture, orientation, etc. are just as valuable as white Anglo-Saxon men, and should enjoy equal rights, freedoms and opportunities. This makes the social sciences enemies of the people.
Then comes the threat of pollution, environmental degradation and finally climate change. A whole phalanx of enemy scientists threaten the very fabric of industrial consumerism.
And now, these epidemiologists are telling us ... completely unacceptable things!

In order to justify shutting all science down, some very serious vilification will have to exercised on specific, high-profile examples.
(Also disloyal party members, journalists and military officers, but that's another day, another firing squad)
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