Weaponization of the word science

Ever notice how people use the word science like a bludgeon to silence others? People get all haughty and they repeat the mantra, well we are just following the science, and the science says X or the science says Y, so shut up fool. Or they may say, I listen to the experts. Well, one should go with the science. One should listen to the experts, but it’s as though the word science or expert automatically negates another person’s ability to think.

It does not matter how much garbage someone might be spewing in the name of science or expertize, one is just supposed to listen and never question anything because oooooohhhh the science.

The word science has now been elevated to God like status, and to question anything that some expert renders as science is now considered to be a conspiracy theory or worse, blasphemy. People are afraid to question anything that is now called science for fear of being mocked, while others take on an air of sophistication when they utter the word, sticking their chin up in the air, and twitching their head as they repeat the word: SCIENCE! 

Dr. John Lennox is a brilliant man. He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. He once made a very profound statement. He said that science does not tell us anything, scientists do. In other words it takes human beings to look at science, interpret the data determine what it says.  

Do not think for one minute that scientists are robotic automatons in white cloaks, who operate like computers, only capable of giving straight data with no biases. If you believe that, you had better think again. These people are just as capable as any politician, of cooking data to reflect their own biases. They don’t get a pass simply because they throw out the word science to shut up anyone who challenges them. 

No one would argue that gravity exists. We see gravity in action all around us everday. That is science! If however the most brilliant physicist in the world was to start spewing non sense based on models developed on a computer, or his opinion and tells the world that the law of gravity is capable of creating matter, like the great Stephen Hawking once did, then in the words of Dr. John Lennox; “foolishness is foolishness even when spoken by brilliant scientists.” It does not matter that Hawkings was the world’s premier physicist. His statement was a garbace statement on its face and no one needed a degree in physics to kow that. 

People should stop genuflecting to use of the word science. No one shoul ever be afraid to challenge nonesense simply because someone utters the word science or because a so called expert says something that is obviously stupid. People must refuse to give up their capacity to think and analyze data. 

Trust your doctor but get a second and third opinion if you have doubts about something the doctor says. There are times when it is necessary for people to do their own homework, research, ask questions of experts with differing opinions, then compare all of the information and come to one’s own conclusion. This does not mean that one knows more than the experts, or that science is useless. 

Do ever forget that scientists, and experts are no different than other human beings and they have often been wrong throughout history. How often has anyone ever heard the phrase “in a new study,” or “new research has shown” and the statement goes on to contradict some long held idea that scientists/experts swore by before? 

Scientists and experts can be just as ethically challenged, they can be enticed by money, they can be compromised by the desire for adulation as other human beings. It’s not only bankers, insurance salesmen, stock brokers, lawyers or any of the regular suspects that people have been told to be suspicious of who are capable of deceit.

Sure some professions are more prone to chicanery that others, but don’t ever think that so called experts and scientist are always being straight when they put out their interpretation of data, or give you their computer models. Trust but verify could also apply to the experts. One does not have to be intimidated by the word science. 

Having said all of that, none of this means that you just go with what your neighbor Fitzroy or your aunt Gertrude has to say on an issue simply because either of them read a newspaper article, heard something on TV, or got some information on a conspiracy website or podcast. It is ok to trust the experts when they have shown themselves to be honest brokers, and earned the place of trust they hold, but never ever be afraid of someone simply because they wear the tag of expert, or use the word science like a weapon. Do not cede your mind to anyone, whether that person be a cult leader, a dishonest expert, or quack. 

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