Science Under Attack

in #science7 years ago (edited)

For the greater part of the past few years I have been doing academic papers, thesis and dissertations for students. When I was first asked to do the deed, I objected for ethical reasons. This opportunity though raised another important question and thus I started delving deeper into the nature of academia. When I realized that many students simply didn't bother due to the fact that college became a super store for degrees, I saw it as a business opportunity. It was one of the most lucrative things I have ever done. Academia has become a joke and I seized the moment.

The overall demand was rather worrying if we consider how many people are employed with advanced degrees. Throughout the years, I have written several Bachelor and Masters' thesis in Sociology, Psychology, Marketing, Business Administration, Journalism, History and Design. It wasn't even that hard. When it comes to these unscientific (to me) fields all I had to do was to read a few papers and then formulate a long descriptive essay. Most of it was paraphrasing from copy-pasting. I even constructed questionnaires for experiments based on other similar ones. I rarely had any problems from my customers' professors since their level didn't seem to be that higher than mine. Other peers with more experience than me even did PhD's for a crazy amount of money. It was evident that those who have money could buy qualifications. Based on my "underground" experience, this is rather becoming the rule rather than the exception.



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You see, Science, in its greater generic sense, consists of the set of practices, people and institutions that end up forming opinions under a given epistemological consensus. Every scientist, every School of Thought, has a special way of doing things. There is no such thing as universality in practice. Much like the outside world, it involves politics, funding, corruption and above all the dreaded consensus. Science is not immune to bullshit or bribery like most people believe. We all like to keep the idealism high, but having spend some time in academia, I can't seem to hold any respect for most of these fields.

One of the things I tackle often is the modern scientific process — or better, the sociology of science within academic environments. Contrary to common belief, the culture of scientific discourse has nothing to do with the scientific process itself. Nonetheless, due to recent political and cultural developments in our culture, both ideas have muddled together into a single intellectual absurdity. Without trying to be dramatic, in my opinion, we are currently witnessing the greatest attack on Science since the burning of the Library of Alexandria.

On and in itself Science is completely useless and abstract as a concept. Nonetheless , the word is thrown around a lot and almost for every possible subject. We are currently witnessing the birth of the scientific meme. "Science says..." and everything else after this opening suddenly gains a special weight. Everyone uses the label in their own way whether they are academics or students. Even people who pretend to use the scientific method label it as such. No need to be alarmed when the next layman uses a scientific article to sell a product. Everybody does this more or less. Do we have any idea what is going on in the background for most of the research? Absolutely not. Heck, there might be guys like me right now writing up research gigs for the food you are allowed to consume.


Due to the fact that the scientific method is the best tool humanity has ever come up with, opportunists have found a way to abuse it. No, I am not talking about the usual charlatans of homeopathy, chiropractics and alternative medicine. I am talking about fields that most people aspire to them for being scientific. Most of them are merely a political front for pushing agendas. Others seem to be a relic from the past that just refuses to go away due to the kingship status of some tenured professors. These two practices are the epitome of the cancer of post-modernism that has been becoming more and more popular over the past few decades in academia.

At one point in time, Alchemy developed into Chemistry. It was a painful move but it had to happen. Astrology also had to be rejected and thus slowly give way to Cosmology. Today we are stuck yet again on some relics of the past that refuse to go away. There is simply way too much at stake — both financial and intellectual for anybody to even dare to make the suggestion. Sociology should die out and give way to the science of Anthropology. Psychology should call it quits and rather continue with Neurobiology. Cosmology itself has become a fat joke. Planetary science should have replaced Cosmology and Astronomy long time ago. Yet, nothing of all these happens. Much like Astrology they are still haunting us mostly because they are popular among the masses.

Society has slowly shifted into a new paradigm that tends to mush up everything together under the same label. Ignorance has become the same as knowledge. Actual scientific processes have been rendered into political schemes. Satisfying the masses and being politically correct has become more important than doing science itself.

I am critical of science because I believe it should be cherished, not poisoned by charlatans and popularizers. When I see NASA spokesperson Neil Degrasse Tyson — that audacious but charming fellow — talking about a space race with China, I worry. He actively promotes the greatest paramilitary program on Earth (NASA), while the new generation forgets that last time this happened we almost ended up causing a Nuclear War.


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I also worry because he mentions fancy words such as "astrobiology", something that has nothing to do with the actual scientific process. As far as I am concerned, we have yet to find any form of biology outside our planet. How the heck one even comes up with an entire 'scientific field' by merely asserting that it exists? Even so, how can one even study something that does not exist? Assuming that life will be carbon-based and that we could study it is rather ludicrous. Way too many unknown unknowns to even formulate a hypothesis. Impossible to contact any experiments. How could we possibly assume that extra-terrestrial life would resemble the one on earth and have the audacity to rape the scientific method in order to work backwards from our conclusions towards experiments? How is this any different than alchemy or homeopathy? But hey, if NASA endorses the term, it must be valid right?

People like him only want to excite the naive sci-fi minds that adhere into a geeky Start-Trek utopia. This trend of pop-science that gathers superficial crowds (such as the "I Fucking Love Science" on facebook) are rather cancerous to the real scientists and their work. These guys are not making science popular. They are rather turning it into a generic meme that has to do more with exciting graphics and cool videos. With all the hype going, they become an agenda for passing down specific policies. If it has to do with "space" is all good to us. Little do we know that all those technologies are simply a front for militaristic advancements as it has been demonstrated over and over again.

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Even the Elon Musk meme, is being funded for his self landing missile from the U.S military. What do crowds do? They cheer because he also makes cool green electric cards that "save" the environment. Sure, save the environment while testing missile technologies that are going to be shot in some poor guy's living room on the other side of the planet. We are all in it folks, but we refuse to accept the consequences of this science-hype because of the"advancement and progress—fuck yeah-narrative".

Our institutions have become fronts for specific vested interests. Sure they keep doing the experiments every now and then, publishing mostly useless papers but really, at the end funding talks, nothing else. Anyone with a pinch of critical thinking can understand when something is scientific and when it is not. Psychology and Sociology for example shouldn't even exist as scientific fields. Labeling these atrocities soft-sciences is like calling a 4 month pregnant woman "a little pregnant".

Humans are extremely complex entities. We cannot possibly group them together and study them effectively under social sciences. Heck, in actual scientific fields such as chemistry, physics and biology we isolate parameters in a great extent in order to find evidence. Replicating any experience in social sciences is physically impossible. Human behavior changes depending on what we ate last night, if we got laid and what magazine we read in the waiting room before the experiment. Yet, we have the audacity to hand down questionnaires and form policies based on this 'scientific' method. This is also why never an experiment has been replicated in social sciences. This is the same reason why one cannot replicate the same conversation in a coffee shop. Heck, even actors fail when they try to express the same thing over and over on camera. Too overgeneralized. Too over-simplified.


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This is how this academia cancer multiples into other bullshit fields like Women's & Gender studies. The 'fields' simply appeared within academia in order to satisfy a specific social engineering agenda — much like it happened earlier with psychology and sociology. Social fields are simply descriptive, not scientific. They offer narratives about how society works, not falsifiable experiments that we can formulate theories. In no way they can be employed for anything useful because they are highly inconsistent. Wonder why most of these graduates serve coffee at Starbucks? Simply, outside of that safe-space academic Alice-in-Wonderland atrocity, nothing of that applies. Ever.

Recently even geologic and weather studies have been muddled up in order to support specific agendas in the political debate of climate change. Whether the findings are scientific or not became irrelevant. The public is so confused that nobody gives a fuck anymore. Who would have thought. A Liberal-green-Obama allowed the Kyoto treaty on the environment to fail while a conservative Trump is more open to change. This is how fucked up the whole thing gets and this is why it is important to keep an open mind in regards to how politics are involved.

I read a couple of scientific papers every day, since I tend to get triggered from pop-science literature. What I have come to understand after a decade or so, is that I can only trust the fields of engineering. They are solid. Applied science at its best, with no middle men, no hidden agendas, no vested interests. If one can build a machine based on scientific theories and the machine works then it is all good. If not, well, tough luck. With all the other fields is more like speculation. Opinion. Everyone makes grandiose claims, but no one really takes responsibility if something goes south. This is also the reason why there is such a huge mess in the social sphere of science.


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Responsibility is a truly important factor in Science but it often gets downplayed. An engineer building a bridge is responsible for all the millions of people that will pass over and under it. His theories have to be tested, the hard way. If the bride fails, he will have to pay with his career and probably a lawsuit. On the other hand, in social sciences nobody cares because, "you know man, life is complicated"... This is highly hypocritical. On one hand they admit that society and humans are hard to evaluate and on the other hand they expect their evaluation to be passed as real Science.

Unless we as society start pushing real Science and actual responsibility in the things that affect our lives, Science is going to be poisoned by those who want to have control over the masses. Notice how liberals tend to be all "green, science, equality" and conservatives the exact opposite? This polarization offers a false narrative, often between good and evil, but it has nothing to do with reality but rather politics. Most liberals seems to be college students that know little about what is going in the upper strata of society. Most of them have not even held a real job. Yet, they rule what is going on in one of the most important shelters of science — Academia.

Academic institutions have become camping sites for naive young adults that believe schools should fulfill their dreams. They overpay for a useless paper that can be literally bought if you know the right people. Effectively it has become a giant shopping mall where the customer, which is the student, is always right. As a result, the funding offered for most fields derives from the state which itself has a specific agenda for keeping this lucrative enterprise of debt going.

Never before in history we have seen so many people desperately seeking education while being in so much debt with no prospect in paying it out. This is exactly what happens when you invent fields that have no application for the real world. This is exactly what happens when all the "science hype" dies and you are left with reality. This is how naive children believe that we are using the taxpayer money for building a space colony in Mars — in one of the most hostile environments — while on earth we can't even control a minor shift in temperature.


As long as I cherish Science, I will keep criticizing it. As long as these cheerleaders keep poisoning the fields with their academic bullshit we all owe to at least investigate that which is served to us. Possessing a scientific way of thinking is neither a pleasant deed nor one that can be taken lightly. It often entails examining endless and boring sets of data, not cool graphics on the Discovery channel. We are the ones shaping this society and we are mostly responsible for what goes on out there. At the end of the day, by not keeping a vigilant eye on the matter, we are getting exactly what we deserve.





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Do you know who Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad are? They share your disdain for post-modernism entering science. Good read, thanks for posting.

Yeap, two of the greatest thinkers of our time.

Jordan Peterson's current lecture series on the Bible is amazing. The dude can talk for 2 hours about one verse. I don't think he'll ever make it out of Genesis

hahaha. i have so many of his videos on "watch later" list.

Yeah his podcast is really awesome I do a lot of driving so I get to listen to podcasts all day

He has a series, I forget the name now, a lecture. pretty awesome


This is the one I was referring to

Jordan Peterson would both totally disagree with this guy's cheating-business-for-hire, and disdain the way he ignores facts and attacks anyone who points out his error.

He used ad-hominem against me because I pointed out that he claimed the US caused a nuclear war with Russia. "It was a typo". LOL.

I have no objection at all of science being popularised and made accessible for eveyone. Science should be there for everyone and the beauty of science is sometimes also its simplicity and being able to explain it to everyone from kids to elderly.

Probably a bigger threat to science is the battle for the greatest minds and knowing that the financial industry can offer them the fatest paychecks :-)

Always seek the truth! Followed

You raise some valid and important points and questions. I might not agree with absolutely everything in your huge post, but even in those cases, I think you are asking important questions and we need to do a lot of digging before we can be sure of the right answers.

Everybody that uses the phrase "Sciense says..." is either oversimplifying at a particular moment or simply doesn't really understand how science works. A lot of the problems stem from the fact that the majority of the people simply do not understand the scientific process or the behinds-the-scenes politics of science that you talked about.

Universities (much like high schools) are becoming less relevant as time goes. Many of them are simply profitable businesses happily relying on false advertising while hiking up their prices.

I agree that a lot of the sciences, especially the social ones have "accepted" theories and paradigms that haven't been tested and proven enough. I also have experience helping people close to me out with papers and the like in the field of psychology and I was actually surprised and repulsed by the tiny sample sizes reputable university professors were using to support their hypotheses. Psychology is certainly in a crisis because of all the problems with studying humans you talked about. Additionally, there is very little incentive to repeat other people's experiments so you can validate their results which leads to a huge piece of the puzzle missing. I was thinking of doing a whole post dedicated on this topic and now after reading your post, I think that's what I'll do.

At last. Someone who gets it :)

Thanks! I think it's important to make the questions you pointed out known and understood by as many people as possible.

Well, I do but as you can see 90% of people are pissy :)

We are unfortunately. I do include myself in that category too, maybe not always, but sometimes for sure.

Followed...

I recently took a trip to NASA which I posted about and one of the engineers there who was working on the new SLS rocket said that he was retiring because he did not want to be a part of the next space race. Which as you said almost got us into a nuclear war_horable to think that history could repeat itself so frequently. Very intriguing, keep up the good writing.

Thank you man. Glad we have first hands experience here :)

If one can build a machine based on scientific theories and the machine works then it is all good. If not, well, tough luck.

This. You rarely see engineers blaming reality for not cooperating with a theory and then look expectantly at their machine to see if it has started working yet.

Even though engineering is applied science, it is also the ultimate Popperian test of theories, and thus in a way the most scientific field there is, together with the fields that test hypotheses in the engineering way.

Economists of any ilk need not apply.

Another thing: research by and from universities can be bought. If the results are not to a companies liking, the report will be buried and that university will have lost a source of income. Next time, the reports will look different, and "science" will have died a little more. Science is on order these days, partly because funding isn't independent and theories don't have to work anyway; all is fine as long as the requested story makes headlines.

I can't upvote this enough. Some people though in the past few days have a really tough time grasping reality in regards to what really goes on within academia.

Great article: Richard Feynman had similar concerns

yeap. i posted it above in another thread

Great debate that must be had. My wife is finishing up a PhD in Chemistry. Same story. The name of the game is getting published and there are some very perverse incentives at work! She needs to cite these but in alot of them there is no value : non reproducible conclusions and overall trivial level of importance.
Getting published is more about who you know really and in some institutions there is a lot of strong arming to mention the higher ups as co-authors while they barely know the contents!

What do you think about open-access ? Will it help ?
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/dramatic-statement-european-leaders-call-immediate-open-access-all-scientific-papers

I think open access will transform research in ways we have yet to fathom.

I am glad i get perspectives from people that actually went through the process and see how the politics of science are getting in their way. Most people critiquing on here have not even attempted to make a grant proposal and really witness what science is all about in academia.

She is cooking up her own posts hehe will let you know when she posts them!

Verifying our understanding by building something and by predicting events are the only benchmarks I know of. If a claim does not go through that process, then it has not become a part of our solid, reliable knowledge. The claim may have a lot of usefulness, to be sure, but it has not gone through the scientific method.

Going through the scientific method is also not an either-or thing. The more a result is replicated under more and more conditions, the more certainty we can have about its validity.

So, as I see it, most of the claims of the social sciences and humanities have not gone through the scientific method and so I don't consider them a part of the reliable collection of knowledge that has been accumulated over the last few centuries. So personally I'm not that much bothered by whether some social science study has been faked or not. The study procedure was not designed to produce reliable knowledge to begin with.

Sociology should die out and give way to the science of Anthropology.

Couldn't agree more.

An engineer building a bridge is responsible for all the millions of people that will pass over and under it. His theories have to be tested, the hard way.

I tend to agree. Reminds me of The Atlantic saying programmers shouldn't be called enginners and Wired asserting programmers have a far way to go to be engineers.

consensus doesn't necessarily make a fact.

but it is. it all comes down to human perception.

But Science is HHHHAAAAAAAARRRRRRDDDDDD.

I don't know how to type that and communicate the whiney way it needs to be said.

In my, obviously unimportant opinion, Elon Musk will do for "Science" what Bernie Madoff did for "Investing".

Right up to the point where it all comes crashing down.

I'm dumb enough to think that if your theory doesn't match your results, maybe there's something wrong with your theory.

But in today's "science" we'll just change what the theory was until we can make the data prove it, sort of, if you squint, and don't look at the data on the last 15 pages where we summarize.

lol. awesomely put

You struck a chord.

It's really hard when even the most brilliant scientists are used as media mouthpieces, Hawking is a good example of this.

And, Leonard Susskind. Turned one of his lectures into an anti-Trump rant because his wife suggested.

indeed, it is sicking some times

And, it is only getting worse, sad.

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