Because Science

A recent Federalist article was titled with the startling accusation:

Bill Nye Is A Huckster

The writer called out Nye for putting ideological beliefs over good science.

Bill Nye fashions himself a voice of rational thought and scientific inquiry. His shtick has gotten him into classrooms and on an endless loop of evangelizing TV appearances. Yet nearly every time he speaks these days, Nye diminishes genuine science by resorting to scaremonger-y nuggets of easily dismissible ideologically-motivated nonsense.1

Well, that’s from the Federalist, but I was quite surprised to see similar sentiments coming from well known skeptic, agnostic, and science journalist John Horgan. His article in Scientific American skewers the “lesser priests” of scientism2 dropping names like Neil de Grasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Ray Kurzewiel in his indictment.

Last month, Neil de Grasse Tyson said “the likelihood may be very high” that we’re living in a simulation. Again, this isn’t science, it’s a stoner thought experiment pretending to be science.

So is the Singularity, the idea that we’re on the verge of digitizing our psyches and uploading them into computers, where we can live forever. Some powerful people are believers, including Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil. But the Singularity is an apocalyptic cult, with science substituted for God.

When high-status scientists promote flaky ideas like the Singularity and multiverse, they hurt science.

It’s my observation that much of what passes for humanistic materialism today is “flakey” science, hopeful stories without any real scientific evidence – only the a priori assumption that naturalism is the Truth.

I grew up admiring Bill Nye, the Science Guy – I loved his experiments and the hands-on nature of what he did. But somewhere along the way he became Bill Nye the Atheist Guy, and his humanistic “huckstering” does little to promote the advance of science. Instead, we get his ideology.3

One other observation. The main point of John Horgan’s article is that Skeptics with a capital “S” often pursue the “soft targets” of religious belief and quack science instead of attacking harder targets like war, modern medical practices, and astronomical theories like the multiverse. As a Christian, I think sometimes that we spend too many resources attacking the soft target of naturalistic humanism, and not enough attacking the hard targets found in the misapplication and misinterpretation  of biblical doctrine. I disagree with Hogan on many points, but we can both agree that our belief systems spend too much time preaching to our choirs and not enough time challenging them.

Series Navigation<< From Godlessness to GhostsIn Defense of the Scientific Method >>

  1. I used the title, “Because Science,” because that’s the argument that most naturalistic humanist use when they are asked to explain a naturalistic ideological position that can’t be explained by actual science. []
  2. an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation, including philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities []
  3. Which apparently includes throwing dissenters in prison: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/14/bill-nye-open-criminal-charges-jail-time-climate-c/ []

2 Comments on "Because Science"

  • Kumar says

    Hey! I’m a random internet stranger that stumbled upon this. I really like yourt footnotes, and the writing is dense. Few wasted words.

    Your design made me think of the following: ( Keep in mind I’m just an enthusiast.) When I click the footnote, it lands me one row into the footnote (I’m on Firefox) (This seems like an off by one error in the code). The same thing occurs when I hit the back button to go back to where I was reading before.

    While the (admittedly assumed) off-by-one error is an easy fix, I recommend an experiment. Keep track of what row on the screen the user is viewing the footnote on, and maintain that row number when showing the footnote/returning to the text.

    For example when I read I like to keep my eyes at about 25% of the way down the screen. Lets say this is around row 5. If I clicked the footnote, and the footnote appeared on row 5 of the screen, the switch back and forth may be easier on the eyes. There may not be a jarring moment of “where do I read from”

    An edge case here would be block quotes (like your first footnote). It might be better to have the start of the block quote as the first visible row if you are returning to a footnote regarding a block quote.

    As a separate but non-mutually exclusive experiment: Maybe have another clickable number in the margin for the footnote. When you click the number in the margin, you jump down to the footnote with the mouse hovering over a back button in the margin of the footnote. No mouse movement would be necessary to return to reading, just another click.

    I’m not sure if this would be the least jarring, but it would be interesting to see how any of this looks like.

    Thank you for indulging a stranger.
    Wishing you the best!

    • Thomas says

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m using plugin that hasn’t been updated since 2012. I do know some PHP and HTML/CSS, but not enough to do what you recommend (though I would love if that was its behavior). It appears that the plugin searches the text for the the footnote string, which is two parenthesis to open and close the footnote. (( Foot note ))
      When it finds that string, it generates a unique link and numbers it, lets say, with a 1. It then creates a list of all the links it just created at the bottom of the post. When you click a footnote, it jumps to the corresponding link at the bottom of the post. There doesn’t appear to be any location on the page, just the link itself. Same behavior to go back – It just links back to the unique link that it created where the footnote string was. I’m sure there is a way to tell it to move a certain number of lines above or below the link, but I don’t know enough to do that.
      Hope you are having a blessed day!
      -Thomas

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