Home » News, Philosophy, Science » On the arrogance (the insufferable patronising) of Steve Pinker and “scientism” advocates in general

On the arrogance (the insufferable patronising) of Steve Pinker and “scientism” advocates in general

When cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker decided to go to bat for scientism—the belief that science provides us with the only valid forms of knowledge—he got lots of flak from pretty capable people. One aspect of his arrogance was largely passed over, but is highlighted for us by Jules Evans at Philosophy for Life:

Steven Pinker, the Harvard cognitive linguist, would not make a very good ambassador. In his latest diatribe, he attempts to reassure humanities scholars that science is not their enemy. Science is good, and humanities scholars should stop complaining about ‘Scientism’. Unfortunately, he says this in such a tactless way that it’s guaranteed to annoy not just humanities scholars, but no doubt many scientists too.

Right from the get-go, he patronizes the humanities, giving his essay the sub-title, ‘an impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians’, which makes everyone in the humanities sound like losers. Just to make sure of offence, he then claims that Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Leibniz, Kant and Smith were ‘all scientists’, and all materialists to boot. Even I know that’s wrong – Descartes, Rousseau, Liebniz, Kant and Smith all used spiritual ideas like the soul, providence, God or the General Will in their philosophies.

I don’t care about inter-departmental bun-fights. I am all for cross-disciplinary work between the humanities and the sciences, like the Stoicism and Therapy project I’m working on at Exeter University. The Scientism I object to, which Pinker expresses, is the shrill insistence that science has ‘proved’ materialist utilitarianism and any other world-view is ridiculous. I think that type of Scientism, besides being tactless, leaves out important aspects of human experience.

Might that include aspects of human experience that, heeded, would have spared Pinker the embarrassment?

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

9 Responses to On the arrogance (the insufferable patronising) of Steve Pinker and “scientism” advocates in general

  1. On the arrogance of Salvador Cardoza, who too often forgets that UD is not his personal fiefdom, but is, according to it’s banner: “Serving the Intelligent Design Community”

    Sal, since you seem to be in the mood for humble pie, how about you admit your errors in deleting posts and/or changing their content without justification.

  2. Mung, should you and Sal talk? Some, including some who work at the site, actually don’t know what this is about. It’s not that nobody cares so much as nobody knows or can know. – O’Leary for News P.S.: Nobody reads everything.

  3. News:

    Salvador is currently engaged in a crusade to delete any post I make in any thread he authors regardless of the content of the post.

    Formerly he had modified the content of a post I had written to make it appear as if I had written something else entirely.

    He’s never admitted he was wrong in doing so and he has refused to modify his behavior so there’s not much for the two of us to talk about.

    It’s one thing to censor unacceptable material, but his is a blanket censorship due to personal animus.

    That’s what’s going on. And he continues to do it. Please tell him to stop.

  4. The saddest thing about scientism is that it really underpins the Consensus in the most humiliating way for them, and they don’t even realise it.

    Basically, the ‘promissory note’ is alive and well, and always will be for the materialist – for as long as they are able to get away with what being who/what they are.

    What I am referring to is that, unbelievably cretinous though it is, they really CANNOT distinguish between Reason and Intuition.

    When faced with a paradox, viz a concept repugnant to logic and reason, as occurs with increasing frequency under the QM paradigm, instead of understanding that it is counter-rational, logically absurd, crazy, even, as Bohr often referred to it – they designate it as, ‘counter-intuitive’.

    And that is itself counter-rational, logically absurd, crazy, even, since we do not need the astrologer’s intuitive insights, but a simple understanding of what makes logical sense and what does not, but, rather, defies it.

    No special course of education is needed to acquire intuition; it is a faculty instinct in us all at a primal level, albeit not as finely attuned as it is in mammals. But it is certainly not needed to discover that much of QM is counter-rational; all one needs is elementary reason.

    QM is a mystery to them, but no-one needs intuition to tell them some matter is mystery. On the contrary, simple logic tells us so. The deeper mysteries themselves, far from being counter-intuitive, insofar as any of them can be fathomed, are only accessible in such measure BY our intuition.

    Is it any wonder, therefore, that it impossible to argue with the likes of Pinker, Liddle et al. They just are not equipped to follow logic in the matter of their scientific world-view, in view of their perverse religious fear of religion, itself, in the elevated sense of belief in a Creator. Nor can they draw rational inferences from any scientific exercises, which could be rationally construed as propitious to deistic belief – in fact, increasingly, theistic. They are simply becoming more and more fearful of where science, itself, is heading. If they can’t stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. They’re a major part of the problem.

  5. Apologies. In the second sentence, it should read, ‘… get away with being who/what they are.’

  6. That’s sort of strange that Pinker would be so condescending towards the humanities since Professors in the humanities would seem to be a ready ally for him,

    Majority of American University Professors have Negative View of Evangelical Christians – 2007
    Excerpt: According to a two-year study released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 53% of non-Evangelical university faculty say they hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians – the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty.
    Only 30% of faculty hold positive views of Evangelicals, 56% of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments hold unfavorable views. Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at over 700 four-year colleges and universities. Margin of error is +/- 3%. ,,,
    Only 20% of those faculty who say religion is very important to them and only 16% of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals; the percentages rise considerably for faculty who say religion is not important to them (75%) and among Democrats (65%).,,,
    “This survey shows a disturbing level of prejudice or intolerance among U.S. faculty towards tens of millions of Evangelical Christians,,,
    One-third of all faculty also hold unfavorable views of Mormons, and among social sciences and humanities faculty, the figure went up to 38%. Faculty views towards other religious groups are more positive: Only 3% of faculty hold cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews and only 4% towards Buddhists. Only 13% hold cool/unfavorable views of Catholics and only 9% towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18% hold cool/unfavorable views towards atheists.
    A significant majority – 71% of all faculty – agreed with the statement: “This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics.” By comparison, only 38% of faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ne.....y/07050808

    As to Pinker’s belief that science is the only true source of knowledge (scientism) and that all answers must be naturalistic/materialistic in nature, well those are both philosophical statements that cannot be proved by science. Moreover, advances in quantum mechanics has actually falsified naturalism/materialism as the true description of reality.

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 Leggett’s Inequality – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Moreover, this (the violation of Leggett’s inequality) is, by far, not the only place materialism has completely failed to live up to its hype as being the only true ‘scientific’ philosophy/foundation of the sciences. Theism, particularly Christian Theism, was at the very founding of modern science and continues, despite the denial of atheists to the contrary, to be a very viable philosophy under-girding the sciences.,,, For example of its braod explanatory power, the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several ‘natural’ contradictory predictions about what evidence we will find through our investigations. Moreover, and ironically, these predictions themselves, and the evidence we have now found, can be tested against one another within the scientific method to see which philosophy seems more reasonable to believe (i.e. more true).

    Steps of the Scientific Method
    http://www.sciencebuddies.org/.....thod.shtml

    For a quick overview, here are a few of the contrasting predictions between the two philosophies:

    1. Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event. -

    2. Materialism predicted time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation. – Time was created in the Big Bang. -

    3. Materialism predicted space has always existed, Theism predicted space had a creation (Psalm 89:12) – Space was created in the Big Bang. -

    4. Materialism predicted that material has always existed, Theism predicted ‘material’ was created. – ‘Material’ itself was created in the Big Bang.

    5. Materialism predicted that the basis of physical reality would be a solid indestructible material particle which rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted the basis of this reality was created by a infinitely powerful and transcendent Being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our ‘material’ reality which blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. -

    6. Materialism predicted that consciousness is a ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus has no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicted consciousness preceded material reality and therefore consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. -

    7. Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe, Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) -

    8. Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind – Every transcendent universal constant scientists can measure is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe (particularly for terrestrial beings, such as ourselves, to exist). -

    9. Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe – Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe. -

    10. Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. -

    11. Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible ‘random’ mutation rate for DNA which was/is ultimately responsible for all the diversity and unfathomed complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial mutations. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) -

    12. Materialism predicted a very simple first life form which accidentally came from “a warm little pond”. Theism predicted God created life – The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) -

    13. Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11) – We find evidence for complex photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth -

    14. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. – The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils (phyla) within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. -

    15. Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record – Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a phyla/group/kind in the fossil record, then rapid diversity within the phyla/group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall phyla/group/kind, and even within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between the major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. -

    16. Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man himself is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record (Tattersall). –

    Stepping back from the evidence and looking at it all objectively, one can see that there is certainly no reason for Pinker, and other leading atheists in universities, to display such arrogance towards those who disagree with them. In fact they should be rightly humbled very much by such contrary findings as I listed:

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 1:20-23
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    Can’t Get Past the Evidence
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRIwa3iHvL8

  7. according to it’s banner

    it’s” is not a possessive form of the pronoun “it”.

    It’s contraction of “it is”.

  8. All there is IS truth. Methodology to finding that truth is another subject to verify,
    The bible is claiming to be a witness to truth. Some accept this method and others attack it.
    Science is just a idea that there is a higher standard of investigation that can be done and only when done is truth discovered or previous truths defeated.
    Then a fight about when this standard has been reached. Origin fights involve this matter.

    All humans do is seek truth with what intelligence they have. A method.

    If evolution is false it will not be the fault of scientific methodology but humans failing to put it under a hight standard of investigation.
    People just didn’t do enough of a intelligent job of investigation.

    I think its really about human intelligence and how this intelligence gathers and reasons through information.
    Methodology is not the origin of truth but a special case of how smarter people control their investigations.
    There is not really any such thing as science. Its just people thinking carefully.

  9. News:

    Mung, should you and Sal talk?

    I talk. He deletes or changes the content.

    Is that what you had in mind?

    :)

Leave a Reply