Quite often, people ask us why we are “against science” and why we have chosen such a controversial title for our book. To find a full explanation for the latter you’ll just have to read the Epilogue to the book.
We will elaborate (just a little) on the former in this blog.
Let’s make it quite clear, we are not “against science” in the usual sense of the phrase. Science enables humankind to deliver sophisticated descriptions of the world (mostly of physical reality), and even more importantly it delivers a utility that projects those descriptions onto the practical realm. It enables us to construct technology, to ‘observe’ the world around us in ways that are truly novel and often surprising. Science further enables us to re-synthesize such constructs and acquire more complex descriptions of the world and more complex technologies; in this way we ‘develop’ – even up to a point where we construct the instruments for our own self-destruction (hence the continuous discussions that this century might be humanity’s last – and not only in the sense of the ridiculous Mayan-calendar “propheteering”).
Our objection is that the utility that science has delivered is often conflated with the concept of truth. As if human descriptions will ever surpass their own categorical weirdness and the assumptions that were a prerequisite for their development? Yet humanity often stands tall upon the subtle yet elusive constructs that provide the basis for delivering such utility. Humanity is constantly being told, reminded in one way or another, that truth is at hand – that we have facts; many are convinced that we are moving towards a greater understanding of everything.
Don’t be fooled. We’re being told only one side to the story. Tremendous paradoxes lurk out of sight, often placed there deliberately by scientists who hijack the real essence of scientific endeavor. We have to consider the balance between utility and awkwardness. But where to start? Just consider infinity, parallel universes, quantum reality, zero, the holographic universe … to name a few. Bypass the awkwardness within, then the idea that truth will eventually be delivered can be propagated.
But propagated on what? On mathematics; something that is not even a science (in the sense that the test of its validity is not experimental). Yet through mathematics, science is made to correlate somehow with the world around us and with the physical phenomena that we observe, describe, and make use of. Einstein and Wigner were troubled by this greatly: Why should physics be inherently mathematical?
We end this entry with some of Feyerabend’s insights: it is fair to say that Science has taken humankind out of an era steeped in mysticism to one of enlightenment (we use the term cautiously, just as Feyerabend meant it). The balance between science and religion was changed. However, in pursuing truth to the extreme – as perhaps a limited number of scientists do – such ‘scientism’ takes an epistemological position that does not encapsulate the many paradoxical assumptions upon which it operates. This position becomes very clear if we look close enough. Indeed, Feyerabend captured it in this quotation: “the most provocative statement one can make about the relation between science and religion is that science is a religion”.