Creationists and the Anti-GMO crowd (hereafter referred to as anti’s) crowd share a foundational base; one amusing to explore, no less. Creationism, or Intelligent Design (ID) as it is known in some circles where they pretend to themselves it is a scientific theory, has been notorious at setting up evolutionary straw men that they can then easily knock them down to the delight of other believers. (A straw man argument is where you intentionally misrepresent an argument so that you can take down the ‘straw man’ argument without taking on the actual argument to the benefit of your ego and ignorance of your audience.)
Again, the Internet contends with another negative take on GMOs, like Seralini’s rat-cancer study from last year. This “study” by Judy Carman involves following pigs fed GM and non-GM feed over 22.7 weeks and trying to find something, anything, wrong at all with the GM-fed pigs while ignoring everything that showed no effect or a positive effect. I don’t have time enough to go through the study, so I’ll briefly summarize the findings of Mark Lynas’ take on the study, as well as another from Weed Control Freaks to show you the pseudoscience indicators:
1st Warning Sign: The results were published in a journal not indexed by PubMed with a low-impact factor.
What this means: Scientists don’t take the journal seriously, it has no credibility, or both.
I have just released my second book, S3: Science, Statistics and Skepticism. It goes for $0.99 on Amazon. Here’s the blurb:
“Does Homeopathy work? Are GMOs dangerous? Is climate change really happening, or is it a hoax as claimed by many? This book will help you navigate the twisted shores of pseudoscientific territory and cut through the nonsense to find the good science.
I’m Fourat, and I think good, peer-reviewed, replicable science should be the pride of humanity. Yet, for some reason it’s not. Join me on this mini-adventure as I help you navigate the confusing, jargon-filled, and treacherous arena of science and the outfits trying to coat themselves in its respectable veneer. By the end of this book, they won’t be able to hide their nonsense from you any longer.
Learn why homeopathy is wrong, climate change is happening, vaccines are safe, western medicine is doing us just fine, why evolution is true, among a few others. Find out what makes good science good, and pseudoscience pseudo. The success of science should be one of humanity’s proudest achievements, but, somehow it isn’t. Explore the bad and the good on this little journey, and have fun while you’re at it.”
Here’s the link one more time, and if you do buy it, and like it, or not, please consider leaving a review. Either way, it helps. Either by helping me write a better book next time, or helping me sell more books this time. Over the next week or two, I’ll be putting up a guest post from a biochemist and then a Q&A with an evolutionary biologist, both of which complement a few of the subjects I tackle in the book. Stay tuned.
And, lastly, thank you to my subscribers. For the life of me, I don’t know why you all listen to me, but apparently some of you do and that makes me happy. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing. You guys are awesome. Special thanks to John Zande who runs a marvelous blog writing sketches on atheism for his enormous help in proof-reading the first crappy drafts of S3. Many thanks go to Ryan Culpeper, who writes on history and religion with alarming clarity, for providing an early review. Also, Rhys Chellew, who writes on everything under the sun, for fact-checking the science and correcting me in multiple arenas; I don’t think I’ve ever met a mind that works so fast and knows so much. And to the enigmatic physicist David Yerle who, in a sense, peer-reviewed my book and set me straight on a few occasions too. Of course, where would I be without thanking my awesome girlfriend who, at critical moments, boosts my confidence to continue writing on tough days, thanks love! And again, thanks to all my readers. Though I don’t say it enough, I really do appreciate that you’re here.
P.S. If you buy S3, and email me your receipt (which you can find on the contact section of my author website), I’ll give you Random Rationality: Expanded (which actually costs more, but hey, I couldn’t think of a good reason why I shouldn’t).
“We live in an age of information, it is said again and again. But that doesn’t mean we live in an age of good information” ~ Rebecca Rosen
The above quote nicely sums up where we are right now. We need better ways of analyzing the veracity and integrity of the multitudes of information we meet with everyday in greater quantity. Skeptical readers perusing the Internet try, and often fail—not that it’s a bad thing, it only shows their human—to separate the good information from the bad information; the good science from the bad science; and the meaningful statistics from the meaningless statistics. This paradigm, of needing to verify and to fact-check everything, is going to change soon. Some time ago, I had the clever little thought—I don’t have many so I have to cherish them—that one day soon, someone will invent, or create, the Universal Fact Checker (UFC), most likely, as a browser plugin (an app for your browser that performs a task). Recently, something similar has been created, but I’ll get to explaining that shortly. First, I want to explain what I think the UFC will be. I envision it as an artificial intelligence (AI) that scours what you read informing you of dubious, false, or outdated claims, providing instant fact-checking on the spot—just as Fact Check does for US politicians; just like medicine does to snakes oilmen; and what science does to non-science. The key difference being is that it is with you at all times at the point of contact, as you absorb new information. You will not have to seek it out, or even to remember to seek it out, it will just be there karate-chopping bullshit in the face, like Penn & Teller, but, always there. Let’s face it, how many of us spot-check everything we learn? Not a single one of us. There simply isn’t enough time to do so even if you wanted to, and even if you had to. In such scenarios that we are in almost every day, the logical solution is not to accept it as fate, but to invent a technology that alleviates the problem—inability to check and retain every piece of information provided to us—and performs the necessary tasks orders of magnitude better than we could.
How Might It Work?
Picture this: imagine you’re reading some pseudoscientist’s take on autism, intelligent design, theistic evolution, quantum healing, or whatever other woo you can shake a scientific stick at, but never makes it goes away (as not everyone will read it, or even have the scientific training to understand it) but, as you browse and absorb, your trusty little UFC scours ahead, subjecting every word, statistic, number, sentence, and paragraph on the page against empirical, peer-reviewed science and academic works highlighting the paragraphs that profess false certainties or provide dubious claims. In other words, MMA’ing the hell out of pseudoscience (I had to put a bad pun in somewhere). Only the strongest claims—evidence-based claims—will survive; what we would otherwise call good science; which is, what we would otherwise call—for lack of a better word—the truth.
Consider an example: (1) A website details the increase in autism rates in the last several decades (true). (2) It then goes on to say vaccines contain thimerosal (partially true). (3) It, then, continues on to say that since thimerosal contains the neurotoxin mercury (true), comes to the conclusion: (4) vaccines cause autism (false). So, how might the UFC access such a claim?
(1) The first section, after having been UFC-assessed, remains untouched because there really has been an uptick in autism rates. Though, if you happen to hover your mouse over it, you will be informed that much of the uptick has been due to a redefinition of autism, and, doctors becoming more aware of autism, thereby, increasingly diagnosing it instead of the condition going unseen or misdiagnosed. So, it is quite likely that the uptick in autism rates is not really an uptick at all, but merely, properly accounting for it for the first time, though still comparing it to the previous underestimated counts. (Of course, it will also tell you that it is a hypothesis, the leading hypothesis, but still not decidedly proven, yet far in advance of any other leading hypothesis.)
(2) The second section being somewhat factually based, is highlighted in orange. As a curious observer you, again, hover your mouse over the highlighted paragraph and a side-bar appears informing you that thimerosal was removed from vaccines by the summer of 2001, excepting the flu and tetanus shots. So, the statement, being as it is a generalization, has tried to lull you into a false certainty—and in this case, failed. You become slightly more suspicious of everything else the article professes to know.
(3) You move on to the third section, and notice that, it too, is highlighted in orange, with a sidebar informing you that methyl-mercury is a neurotoxin, but it (methyl-mercury) is not found in those few vaccines that still contain thimerosal (or any vaccine that ever contained thimerosal), as mercury in thimerosal is bound as an organic ethyl-mercury; it thereby being rendered impotent and easily filtered out by your kidneys, and, therefore, cannot be a neurotoxin. Your suspicions continue to increase.
(4) The fourth section, you’ve now noticed, is highlighted in red as the conclusion does not follow the logic deductively, but rather, inductively, and even then, in a series of inductive leaps with no evidential threads to support the leap from one to the next, so it’s closer to say that they are purely imaginative leaps. The sidebar will inform you that studies looking for any causal thread, which have cumulatively looked at millions of children, have found not even a simple correlative example between thimerosal (or vaccines in general) and autism, or any other disorder. It will tell you that in studies that looked at vaccinated and non-vaccinated kids, they have the same rates of autism, but overall, vaccinated kids get less sick. You now close the webpage and never visit the website again.
Now, wouldn’t that be a sight. Every creationist, anti-vaxxer, homeopathic, quantum healing, feng-shui, talking-to-the-dead website would be littered in orange and red paragraphs. The websites of the Thinking Mom’s Revolution; of Joe Mercola; of Natural News; of Age of Autism; of Reasonable Faith; of Answers in Genesis would become virtual ghost-towns, almost overnight (well, so the theory goes). They will cry foul, they will bitch, they will whine, and complain about being censored, and that it is all a conspiracy to keep the truth from you, because of course, only they have it. Some will listen, I hope most don’t. It will be true, their future babble about censorship, that is. But it will be censorship by good science, and since good science is what nature has regarded as true, it will be censorship by nature, or as I prefer to call it, the universe. (When people refer to nature, they refer to the insignificant speck of dust that is the Earth, but the Universe is where the action is at.) Michael Specter said it best in his book Denialism: “What can be understood and reliably repeated by experiment is what nature regarded as true.” Indeed, there will be a conspiracy, there will be censorship, but, it will be imposed by nature, and therein shall we find the truth.
I’ve meant to write this post for some months, but never got around to it. I finally did so after reading two interesting articles in close succession: one in The Atlantic by Rebecca Rosen, Is It Journalism, or Just a Repackaged Press Release? Here’s a Tool to Help You Find Out, and the other on the open-source science journal PLOS ONE titled, Text Mining Effectively Scores and Ranks the Literature for Improving Chemical-Gene-Disease Curation at the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database. (I highly recommend you read both before continuing, but if you don’t have time to read the articles, I will summarize—inadequately I might add, so read them.)
The first is a tool, named Churnalism, and it has been created to identify plagiarism in the media. It will allow users to submit or post articles and have the language checked against press releases, Fortune 500 companies, and government sources. This will help the would-be reader separate the wheat from the chaff, the original from the copied, and the reportage from the self-congratulatory, and subjective, press release. You’ll have front-row seats as the reportage, reporters, blogs, and online media without integrity fall to the wayside. In short, it is a simple way to instantly check the integrity of those whom we trust with reporting the truth. This tool has the potential to cull those with false pretenses. (You can even install it as a browser plugin so it automatically identifies those articles that have plagiarized. Just as I hope the UFC will do one day—hopefully soon.)
The second is yet another tool created to serve a specific need performing a different, though equally important, task (at least for scientists, though if it helps them, it helps us all). There are thousands of scientific studies being published every day. (The open database, PubMed, alone publishes a new study every minute, and there is, perhaps, 50 million studies published somewhere.) No scientist can keep up with it, though it doesn’t stop them from trying. But, an inordinate amount of time is wasted weeding out non-relevant studies. If scientists could find a reliable way to accurately and quickly accomplish that task, it would, well, free up more time for them to do more science. So, a few scientists created a sophisticated algorithm that read through 15,000 papers going back to 1926 on metal toxicology and, using inputted indicators of article relevancy, novel data content, interaction yield rate, mean average precision, and biological and toxicological interpretability (you don’t need to know what these means) was able to, 85% of the time, rank the studies accurately in their relevance so that precious research time (and PHD students) could be focused towards those studies most conducive to their ends. Now, that is cool! (Also useful, but cool invariably comes first.)
As I made the case earlier, this seems to be the beginnings of the left-hook out of left-field that pseudo-scientists will receive, and, hopefully, a lot sooner than many expect. These two programs, pieces of information technology, will not sit around unused and stagnant; others will take it, play with it, evolve it, and twist it to new purposes, and I hope one of those gifted folks turns it full-force towards the elimination of pseudoscience. Nothing is more relevant today than removing the influence of pseudoscientific jibber-jabber from the discourse we should be having on vaccines, nutrition, more importantly climate change and biotechnology, and perhaps even economics and politics. I can see no barriers to its implementation (aside from cost, which, as I’ll explain in a few paragraphs, is only a short-term problem).
I’m sure, by now, that most people know about IBM’s Watson beating two human opponents (the two best human opponents I might add) in Jeopardy; a game based on the nuance of human language. Watson, an AI, was able to deconstruct the language, understand grammar and syntax in the context of a question, and probabilistically match it to information it ascertained from Wikipedia. (That is, it wasn’t trained to play the game and had to figure out the answers all on its own in a similar manner to how our brains work.) Watch this video to see just how formidable Watson is (4-minutes long). You’ll even see most of the time that when Watson is beaten to the punch that he had the correct answer as well. Watson is now being trained as a medical assistant, and will be most instrumental in analyzing the totality of medical research and new studies coming out every day that a doctor could not hope to keep up with, and helping said doctor in correctly diagnosing patients reducing errors and cost, increasing health, and improving lives along the way. Watson, the fact checker, could be, in a few years, capable of the reasoning in our vaccine example above, if not already. And if IBM is this far, then other companies aren’t far behind. In fact, Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, is working to fully develop a personal, super-intelligent, and always online virtual assistant at Google that can read and understand the semantic content of the web at large. At that point, it will be possible that you’ll no longer have to search for stuff. You’ll just ask questions instead and empirically relevant, sound answers will be displayed. (Perhaps, this explains why Google is moving into hardware: Google Glass, self-driving cars, and the takeover of Motorola. No search results when you ask a question, but that is merely uninformed speculation.)
Instead of searching for when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, where you may have several moon-landing-was-a-hoax results on the first page, you’ll only get the real, empirical answer: July 20th, 1969 alongside a photo of him, you know, actually standing on the moon.
Instead of spending long hours trying to research vaccine safety, where, as a non-medical professional, you can’t tell who’s giving you sound advice and who isn’t; and where, subsequently, a lot of good information is mixed, and lost in, a mountain of bad information, you’ll simply ask: “Is the DPT vaccine safe for my child?” The unambiguous answer will be yes, linking to the multitude of peer-reviewed studies (and only peer-reviewed) on the subject as well as, perhaps, explaining the pro’s and con’s of the quality of the studies, their methodology, any biases, statistical significance, and so forth. It will do this, perhaps, while also showing you the statistical advantage and risk-benefit analysis of not vaccinating your child, so that you may make your decision within the full context of available information bypassing your human heuristics that often ignores several important factors in valuing and acting on information.
Instead of having to filter through creationist babble about when and how the Universe was created, instead, you’ll ask “When and how did the Universe come into being?” The answer will be: “13.82 billion years ago. This data was ascertained with help from the Kepler and Hubble space telescopes, from WMAP, experiments in particle accelerators etc etc etc, and the best-supported hypothesis of creation at this time is a quantum energy fluctuation that instantiated itself into a system of net-energy zero that then forced negative space to expand to compensate for the positive energy instantiation, so that the system (Universe) remained at net zero energy.” (Of course, the super-intelligent machine will find a way to say this, or whatever the correct answer is, if it has changed or been refined, in a far more precise and succinct way than I have.)
But, where will these answers come from? From empirical, peer-reviewed research of course. From the hard and soft sciences, from academia, from open-source journals, and the avalanche of historic data just sitting around drawers waiting to be digitized, analyzed, and parsed through.
While the scenario I provided above—the autism example—is probably not going to happen for some years; for it takes an immense amount of computation and advanced algorithms. While these exist, they are supremely expensive, and considering that the UFC would be most useful as a free plugin—just as I have the churnalism plugin in my Chrome browser that automatically warns me if plagiarism is found—there is, as yet, no profit motive. (However, the profit motive is only necessary when the technologies are expensive. As they get cheaper, it will no longer be necessary.) But, because technology, particularly information technology (IT), is so awesome, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes cheap enough. (As IT’s price-performance per constant-dollar roughly doubles every year like clockwork. Therefore, in 10 years, the technology will be 1000 times more powerful while costing the same, adjusted for inflation, as now.) It’s only a matter of time before it is cheap enough.
Mark the calendar friends, Churnalism and the Science Text-Miner are only the first step. When the UFC arrives, it will come out of the gate swinging. At first, it will be simple, but it will iterate quickly and quicker until it encroaches upon, enveloping and suffocating, all the fields of pseudoscience, and real science will win. How could good science not win? It offers unlimited expansion, untold benefits, improves our lives in a very real way, and—again, for lack of a better word—has the good manners of being true. Pseudoscience appeals only to our vanity and ego and little more, it can only win in an environment where it is not selected against, such as the current (and past) environment where only a small percentage of the population are scientifically trained, but as soon as the tools of skepticism become available to one and all, it will be relegated to the dustbin of history, a future bedtime story told to kids who understand that having bad, non, or no science is as scary as the bogey monster now is to many… (If you doubt the sincerity of that statement, as I’m sure many will, then I invite you to move back to the Rift Valley in Africa and live without the benefits that observation, replication, and innovation have bought us, and which have resulted in the tools of our survival and eventual ascendancy. Those tools, which have bought us prolonged healthy life, increased food production, clean water, reduced infant and maternal mortality, and this webpage did not come easy. Billions worked, and died, for them so that we may be where we are now. See how long you last without shelter, tools, binoculars, night-vision, vaccines, weaponry, clothes, wheels, and, most importantly, fire.)
Impossible to say, but, it is only a matter of time. There is nothing forbidding it, our AI’s today are quite powerful, and information technology is getting cheaper predictably, every single year, so, it follows that our AI will only become more powerful, exponentially so. It is only a matter of time. When it does come, either next year, in five years, or in ten, hilarity will ensue, but more importantly, good science will finally and fully claim its status in the game of thrones played for with truth-claims for millennia Nothing will unseat it thereafter; well, nothing without a regress to the past. Lives will be improved and prosper; economies will grow and become more efficient; and, for good and all, better knowledge will have a selective advantage, and false knowledge will, for the first time in 200,000 long, agonizing, and painful years, have a selective disadvantage. Good riddance! The byproduct of our dear UFC will be, that, our minds will almost seem to perform as if on steroids. That is something I’d sign up for in an instant.
“Science is not a democratic process. Scientists don’t line up and say ‘gee,’ we really like this theory, let’s all vote for it. That’s not how it works. What we do in science is we find what explanations work.” ~ Eugenie C. Scott (Biologist)
Since a very young age, I’ve been fascinated with science (I first fell in love with cosmology). Every year since, my appreciation of science has grown – though my knowledge of it not considerably as much — one of my chief regrets. In this post, I want to lay out some random observations I have accumulated in watching the science vs dogma debate play out.
#1: Epistemic Dictatorship
One day I found a comment on my blog post in which a friend and I debated back and forth on God, the Meaning of Life etc. The commenter had asked what is life, that he could not imagine it as a meaningless pile of interacting chemicals, and wondering where consciousness could have arisen. Another commenter, after spending many days lambasting me on my knowledge of cosmology (he held philosophical opinion above observational cosmological evidence, so I should have ignored him but I foolishly didn’t); anyway, after such lambastation heaped upon me for wishing upon humanity an epistemic dictatorship, being scientistic, and ‘just another guy confusing cartesian bifurcation for reality,’ he responded to commenter #1, saying that since it was impossible for consciousness to arise by itself, it must have been created by a conscious agent. Circular reasoning at its finest.
#2: The Irony of Denying Evolution and Cap and Trade
In America, the religious right have fervently set it upon themselves to make war upon the theory of evolution for offending their presumed sensibilities, and also, against global warming, taking particular issue with cap n’ trade. Of course, the sweet jingle of irony never lingers far from those who hold facts at bay. They disdain cap-and-trade, because well, they are fixated upon the short-term profits from coal/oil/gas/shale, much to the detriment of the long-term health of the biosphere, and the rank and file Republicans, whom have been indoctrinated to tying their economic security to the elite factions of the party, have lapped it up hook, line, and sinker; that being it will irrevocably extinguish short-term economic growth (unable to see that other businesses and technologies will pick up the slack for long-term growth). Evolution at its finest; using shortsighted animal instincts to focus on what is here and now, with the security and safety of short-term profits, all the while ignoring, or keeping at bay the uncertainty of the future, i.e., they preferably express the lower-order thinking we have accumulated from our evolutionary ancestors, giving their neocortex a much unneeded vacation. (And though I do not wish to offend anyone unjustly, I can just find no other way to express it. This is not to say that only the religious right express such dimwitted sentiment, but they are, unfortunately, the most pernicious about it. To be fair, the left have their own share of madness; anti-nuke despite it being the safest form of power generation, and anti-GMO despite the fact that even organic food today is in some shape or form, genetically modified and all we are doing is replacing blind evolution with purposeful evolution – something necessary if the worst of climate change does occur and increasing desertification and seasonal rain find themselves obfuscating our attempts at growing food.)
Then we have the anti-science people (in a more general sense), whom look to science’s past to discredit its present. These invariably crop up in science vs religion debates – usually invoking Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s atheistic, materialistic agenda, Nazi eugenics, Soviet Lysenkoism, or upon matters of white racial superiority.
These arguments fail flat for several different reasons. Firstly, and as most secularists are aware; the ‘atheistic‘ regimes of Stalin and Pol Pot denounced religion on the surface, but in reality, simply replaced the God in religion with the State. It was merely religion in another form and speaks more so than other examples to the danger of religion than of atheism. (Besides, the new atheist movement is not about just being an atheist. In fact, that is the last thing it is about. It is about using reason and empirically sound and validated methodologies to improve the lot of everyone.)
Back to the charge however of anti-scientism, and to attack their proposition directly; they assume – one might say demand – science must have gone from 0 to 60 immediately (0 being the blind superstition of our ancestors, and 60 being scientifically where we find ourselves now), without first passing through 1 to 59. (As if the Pentateuch, New Testament, and Quran just fell from the sky in one piece, instead of being the accumulated baggage of earlier religions and cultures – and that first religion from which the others derived, whatever it might have been, it is reasonably safe to say, was based on ignorance of nature.) Yet, while many excuses are made for religions failing in the past and present (and let’s face it, future), they point to science as if it was a cohesive, secular, and centralized entity that popped out of nowhere, and unable to find many solid examples of its failing today, look to its ignorant past so they may continue their smear campaign. (I am not insinuating that science is perfect. Far from it; from publication bias, to reporting bias, to funding bias, to inefficiencies in the peer-review system, to taxpayer research thrown behind paywalls. Science has a lot to set straight, but, as is so often the case with science, one by one, they are slowly but surely being tackled and will eventually be overcome.)
To go through the charges one by one. There was no basis for Lysenkoism empirically, especially as established as natural selection was then, so while it may have hidden under the veneer of science; did not make it so. The soviet famines caused by such blind faith in Lamarckism was not exemplified by a scientific attitude, but unwarranted faith in an unscientific geneticist who put his faith before reality.
Now take racial superiority, which for thousands of years was coddled by the religious texts of the world. The churches instilled into the white, ignorant populations under their domain the required incentive to rationalize the subjugation of non-whites, and thus to the educated elite of their day seek meaning where there was none – this latter trait is basic human nature; all humanity suffer from its thorny thistles – to prove white superiority instead of deducing from first principles; namely, nature. (Scientists aren’t gods; they are subject to the same biases and agendas of power as were others. The word scientist didn’t even exist until 1833, so to speak of scientists before that is somewhat meaningless, they were just people with all their biases, shortcomings, and blind spots. For all of Newton’s genius, he was an alchemist, and Darwin set forth on the HMS Beagle to prove the truth of the Bible, and then almost didn’t publish his On The Origin Of Species for fear of backlash. And Galileo regarded the Bible as an alternate source of truth just as much as nature herself.)
There is also the further myth propagated into the European zeitgeist in that they were high, mighty, and superior to all others because they were the first to practice some proto-scientific methodology. Many religious people give credit (or take credit rather) for the church for harboring the scientific method and universities during the conflicts and plagues of Europe, which they indeed did, but they ignore the fact that it was only because the Saracens (Muslims as they arrogantly called them) had bought with them from the orient the translated works of Ptolemy, Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, Hippocrates, and the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, which they had translated, copied, incorporated, and spent 400 years theorizing and building upon with funding from the caliphs (who considered it their duty to learn more of the world, and so poured money into scholarship and the building of huge libraries compiling such great works of knowledge as the Booking of Healing and the Canon of Medicine, the latter being a million words long). In the process far surpassing the superstitious peasants subjugated to the feudalistic and petty lords making war upon another over in ‘high and mighty‘ Europe. Though eventually, this constant warring would prove beneficial as it did not allow the rot of stagnation to take hold and thus encouraged innovation in the machinery of war, productivity, and agriculture – but which only took hold after the Muslims had bought all their knowledge and shared it freely. By the sheer dumb luck of being so ignorant that war was inevitable were the conditions so fortuitous, and thus paved the way, for the enlightenment; not forgetting the Muslims bringing with them the translated knowledge of the ancients, as well as their own formidable knowledge-bank. During the end of the 12th century, the scientific decline of the Islamic empire began as they began pursuing spirituality as opposed to science or knowledge for its own sake – such was also the case with China. It is only very recent that knowledge has begun being pursued for its own sake on a large-scale.
To attempt to taint science’s past – which is much younger than many people think) – to discredit its present is akin to watching a 12-month old baby take its first steps, watch it fall down several times, then tell it stop trying for fear of further failure and telling the young chap that crawling is a superior method of transportation (read: truth). Then, once the cute little baby figures out how to walk on its own and starts running and then jumping, they continuously point to those first few steps as prove that the baby started failing first, therefore every step it takes is to be looked upon as suspicious, and not proof that walking/running/jumping is superior to crawling. This, in a nutshell, is what people mean when they say science is an epistemic dictatorship, or refer to its practitioners as scientistic, and bladdy blah blah >>insert meaningless insult here<<.
Where the mindset comes from that demands reality conform to our subjectivity instead of the other way around, I will never understand. Never will I ever. And some of these people have the balls to call scientists arrogant for wanting to know the way the world really works…