Friday, November 02, 2007

Pathological Science and the Crisis of Modernity (3.14.10)

Excellent rant over at American Thinker on Global Warming as Pathological Science. It's not just about global warming, but about the hijacking of science for political ends, almost always leftist ones.

Which is why it is so incredibly moironic that the left are always so hysterical about a few Christians who believe the universe was created in 144 hours 6000 years ago, when they themselves are responsible for almost all of the wholesale misappropriation of science for magical ends, global warming just being the most visible example. Ultimately, depending upon which way you look at the evidence, science can either support or not support the existence of a Creator. But either way, it has no effect on the actual conduct of science, so long as it is guided by one question: what is true?

I'm sure there are exceptions, but I know of no believer who doesn't believe that God, by definition, wishes for us to know the Truth about reality. Indeed, if God did not exist, then neither could Truth. It's ridiculous to have to even to say this, for a God who wanted to hide the epistemological ball from us would hardly be a God worth paying attention to. It's why we know that this surly and controlling Allah fellow -- at least as widely understood in the contemporary Islamic world -- cannot possibly be "God." I am told that God desperately wishes to be known, and that all these misunderstandings, misquotations, and misapprehensions drive him a little nuts.

All of these problems with the left hijacking science were recognized by my favorite philosopher, Michael Polanyi, as early as the mid-1940s. I just started reading another book on him yesterday, and so far it is the best introduction I've found. I can't give it an unqualified endorsement until I finish it, but if it keeps up this pace, it will definitely be a foundational raccoomendation.

The question is, why is pathological science not only inevitable on the left, but intrinsic to it? The short and cryptic answer is that leftism itself is essentially a minus religion (-R) deeply rooted in minus knowledge (-K) about a reality that doesn't ultimately exist, ø. Allow me to explain.

In a minute. But let me first cite some examples from Lewis' article at American Thinker. He writes that "When the scientific establishment starts to peddle fraud, we get corrupt science. The Boomer Left came to power in the 1970s harboring a real hatred toward science. They called it 'post-modernism,' and 'deconstructionism' -- and we saw all kinds of damage as a result," including systematic nonsense about the dangers of heterosexual AIDS, DDT, and Mad Cow Disease, lies about civilian casualties in Iraq, and destructive theories about whole-word reading, to which I might add outrageous lies about the reality of sexual differences, about the damaging psychological effects of daycare, about the importance of fatherhood, and about the causes of homosexuality. Lewis writes that

"Modern science fraud seems to come from the Left, which makes it especially weird because the Left claims to be all in favor of science. Marxism itself was a scientific fraud, of course. In 1848 Marx and Engels claimed to have a 'scientific' theory of history. They predicted that communism would first arise in England, because it was the most advanced capitalist nation. (Not.) They predicted that centralized planning would work. (Not.) They predicted that the peasants and workers would dedicate their lives to the Socialist State, and stop caring about themselves and their families. (Not.) They predicted that sovietization would lead to greater economic performance. (Not.) And then, when seventy years of Soviet, Chinese, Eastern European, and North Korean history showed Marx's predictions to be wrong, wrong and wrong again, they still claimed to be 'scientific.' That's pathological science -- fraud masquerading as science."

As alluded to above, Polanyi noticed all of this going on by the mid-1940s, and was puzzled by it. Perhaps it should be noted that he had a rather unique resume, in that he started out as a medical doctor but later became a professor of physical chemistry, with many important papers to his credit. His last scientific paper appeared in 1949, but he had already begun dabbling in philosophy by the mid-1930s, mostly in what we would now call economics (being Austro-Hungarian, he was very influenced by luminaries such as Hayek and von Mises, and early on formed a deep understanding of the critical importance of liberty to both science and economic development -- he is a classical liberal par excellence).

Polanyi didn't turn full time to philosophy until the 1950s, and his magnum opus, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, wasn't published until 1958, by which time he was already 67 years of age. I must have discovered him in the early 1980s, and agree with Prosch's assessment that

"no one other than Polanyi has in recent years been so assiduous in ferreting out and criticizing those attitudes, beliefs, and working principles that have debilitated the modern mind by undermining its trust in its own higher capacities [emphasis mine]; nor has anyone else offered more pregnant [so much for being 'a little bit pregnant' -- GB] suggestions for a truly new philosophic position free from these difficulties." Although his writings are free of any overt religiosity, I find that they most adequately support my view of a universe that is both absolute and evolving, as it must be; or evolving toward an Absolute that is orthoparadoxically both its origin and its destiny, alpha and omega (more on which below).

The important point is that I believe Polanyi provides the best framework for an enthusiastic and unambiguous embrace of both science and traditional religion -- which is why the essence or O-sense of Coonism is what we might call "Integral Neo-Traditionalism," or something along those lines. In turn, you might say that Polanyi is the unfortunate philosophical "wedge" between me and Schuon, who had no use whatsoever for modernity. In my view, Polanyi saves modernity from itself -- hence the subtitle of his book, Toward a Post-Critical Philosophy. To put it another way, Schuon felt there as no way out of our modern mess but back -- i.e., pure traditionalism -- whereas I believe Polanyi shows us the way forward, out of the darkness of postmodernity -- but not if we abandon tradition.

Perhaps it was because of his medical training that Polanyi began with a diagnosis of the modern world, which he regarded as more or less psycho-spiritually sick. Now, in my view, it has always been sick, consistent with our primordial calamity back in the archetypal garden. But Polanyi noticed that the world seemed to be sick in new and unprecedented ways. Indeed, this is probably among the first things that crosses one's mind as one is fleeing the coming European apocalypse in the 1930s, "matchbox holding my clothes," as Ringo sang (a "matchbox" is an improvised suitcase made of cardboard, favored by blues musicians who must "grab the first thing smokin'," probably because of a jealous husband on their trail).

One thing Polanyi noticed is that modern man tends to externalize the source of his own illness, which is, of course, a specialty of the left. Dennis Prager has mentioned that perhaps the greatest divide between left and right is found in the religious education he received as a child. As a result of it, he internalized the message that, to the extent that he has problems in life, they are overwhelmingly self-generated.

Speaking of blues, notice the wisdom embodied in these lines, as compared to those of modern sociopaths such as Sharpton & Jackson:

Mother, she taught me how to read
Mother, she taught me how to read
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

I have a Bible in my home
I have a Bible in my home
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

Now the gift-curse of self-blame may not be widely available in the non-Western, non-liberal world, but it is surely available here in the modern West, where it is a great thing to be able to proclaim, "my life is f*cked up and ain't nobody's fault but mine" -- something which a leftist can never, ever say. But statistics bear out this truth again and again, that in America, you are free to succeed or fail, based upon your beliefs and concrete behaviors. It is what makes us great.

The left reverses this great truth and disempowers its victims by teaching that your problems are not your responsibility. Rather, you've been screwed! It's a conspiracy! The cards are stacked against you, the dice are loaded, and it's not your fault! The left will cite different reasons for your failure, based upon the political needs of the day, but the main point is that you are a victim and that its not your fault. As such, this represents an overturning of the principial order of the cosmos, the sanctioning of soul-corroding envy, and the denial of liberty. Mankind isn't fallen at all. That's just religious dopium to keep you down! No, earthly perfection is possible if we just eliminate freedom and impose our leftist agenda!

Well, this little prelude has gone on longer than I had anticipated. To be continued....

Nobody's fault but Bush
Nobody's fault but Bush
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but Bush
--lyrics by Blind Lemon Sharpton

In America, the son of a retail clerk can grow up to be Ricky Bobby:


Robin Starfish said...

Is it just me or does that bookcase look mighty precarious? ;-)

Great pic of young daredevil!

a life uprooted
river recollects the sea
number two pencils

River Cocytus said...

Never fear, the Integral Neo-Traditionalist squad is on the task...!

River Cocytus said...

Also, An orthodox friend of mine gave this interesting tidbit:

You were asking about purgatory and I found an explanation of why we dont accept the doctrine. It is because we believe Theosis doesn't end at the Final Judgement, but goes on for eternity.
Purgatory was developed in the West to explain how the dead can work off the residual "debt" due to sin prior to the Second Coming. The assumption is that the slate needs to be clean before a person can come before the judgement seat. The Orthodox view of salvation is more process-oriented, and does not assume that sin and grace are quantifiable "substances" that must somehow be in balance before someone can enter God's Kingdom. There is just sin, and although some are more serious than others, Orthodox do not make the distinction between mortal and venial sins that Roman Catholics do. All sin is believed to be serious in Orthodoxy. We work toward holiness (deification or theosis), and this is a process that will not be completed in this lifetime. Indeed, the work of holiness is an eternal one, since God's holiness is limitless and hence forever beyond us! So we are in the middle of the process of sanctification at the moment of our deaths. How do we know we are ready? It is our jobs to make sure we are prepared for our deaths, and to make sure that we have spent a life working toward holiness. As a consequence of these differences, the doctrine of Purgatory is considered unnecessary in Orthodoxy.


wv: anydqsmc

River Cocytus said...

Note, That post is not meant to introduce contention, but the idea of 'endless theosis' is fascinating.

Petey said...

Now that is what I call a very Coonish take on Christianity.

tiny dancer said...

"It's ridiculous to have to even to say this, for a God who wanted to hide the epistemological ball from us would hardly be a God worth paying attention to."

Said Bob.

I say, be careful there, Bob, or you'll lose your religion. Of course God is hiding the ball from us to some extent. The world is designed to baffle and confuse us. We have to figure out this Rubik's cube of a thing called life.

God does not want to make it too easy--this is a sporting event.

Petey said...

It's not that God is "hiding the ball," only that time takes time, including the time it takes to know. Timelessness takes even more time. It's just a side effect of not being God -- or of there being a manifestivus for the rest of us.

Van said...

"But either way, it has no effect on the actual conduct of science, so long as it is guided by one question: what is true?"

Makes all the difference.

Leads to a completely different place than "What will prove this is true?" which in practice is no different than "How can we make this look true?"

Ricky Raccoon said...

Speaking of science, scientism, its spin off (-R) man-made global warmingism and Schuon, ran across this again this morning:

“One of the greatest successes of the devil was to create around man surroundings in which God and immortality appear unbelievable.”
- Schuon, From the Divine to the Human (explained over pages 146-148)

(Note to trolls: Schuon is not, nor am I, calling you the Devil. He is referring to events described in the Bible, and I believe what further supports Bob’s argument of what you get when you hijack science for political ends. But if the shoe stinks, take it off. Besides, you would need to read at least pages 146-148 from Schuon’s book to get a better sense of what he is driving over. You can likely do a “Search inside..” on Not bad advice in general, I might add.)

Essentially, I think after reading that again, Schuon may agree with this: if you look at the world as if it were a machine, you’ll start to treat it like one; and yourself as the operator.

So it must be a hijacking of science. There is no other explanation. A real scientist would not treat science that way. Would be like stealing a Christmas tree.

walt said...

Rick -

Re: "Would be like stealing a Christmas tree."

So, are you saying Trolls are not Devils, but are Grinches?

Ricky Raccoon said...

Are we the first ones up?

The trolls, they know who they are.

walt said...

Ehhh: I do not sleep.

Van said...

River got a buzz... River got a buzz...(but the shades are cool)