Science Love Hurts Scientific Progress

I hate science love. There are tons of people that don’t understand what science can and can not do. To make this issue vastly worse is that they intermix their love of science with a love of scientists, scientism, the scientific community, the scientific method, and scientific research. These people feel superior and become so insufferable that they become impossible to talk to and they believe anyone who questions any aspect of anything remotely science related is someone trying to advocate for religion or metaphysical nihilism.

While observation and experimentation are wonderful ways to try to gain valuable insights about reality, it is wildly improper to assume we have a method that discovers what reality actually is (in how people contextualize this claim). The strengths of the scientific process (when done well, and are reproduced) are more equipped to tell us what reality isn’t. When positive claims can be made, it is rarely a statement broadly applied to reality itself and more of a statement of what specifically was observed in a specific circumstance. Is this valuable? Of course. However, the strength of the romanticized concept of science is not nearly as powerful as most seem to assume.

Once we escape the romanticized view of science, everything gets vastly worse. There are incredibly corrupt incentives that encourage fraud, abuse, and horrible work to be done at every step of the process.

  • The work that gets funded is often people who wish to prove a certain result.
  • Academic institutions promote and finance scientists that “produce” sexy results.
  • Flawed standards of acceptability make people focused on the wrong goal posts.
  • There is little incentive to reproduce studies.
  • Scientific communities too often protect their assumptions.
  • Academic fields get crowded by followers who have been trained to accept orthodoxy.
  • In many realms funding is given to produce sexy results.
  • Peer review is incredibly corrupt system that promotes friends and orthodoxy … even when it is engaged in with seemingly pure motives.
  • Our societies blind love of experts reinforces the poor incentives and assumes our base of scientific knowledge is vastly more robust than it actually is.

I can probably think about it more and come up with some more examples.

I think science is great. I am not a metaphysical nihilist and I’m not religious. I just don’t assume science has more power than it actually has, and I surely don’t intermix the ideas of science, the scientific method, the scientific community, individual scientists, the incentives of scientists and the community, academia, and scientific research. We need constant skepticism within this field, and science love hurts scientific progress.

Save as PDFPrint

Written by 

Aaron White, married to a swell girl, is a business owner and unschooling father of two, going on three. His hobbies are music and poker. He resides in Southern California.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments