Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The left's view of science

In yesterday's post, I mentioned a post by Chris Mooney at desmogblog where he asks "Are liberals science deniers: now is a good time to find out". There are many ways to approach this problem. Mooney chooses to do so in the context of liberal efforts to shut down nuclear power. Is there a valid scientific rationale, or is it just a knee jerk reaction?

What Mooney does not acknowledge is that there is stream of self identified progressives who do not consider science as an important mechanism to understand our world. Most of these so called progressives are more likely to quote Noam Chomsky than anyone who actually values science. The thread from Chomsky goes directly to Howard Zinn and Glenn Greenwald.

Chomsky, very much revered by many progressives and his view on science give those acolytes permission to ignore science completely.
Science talks about very simple things, and asks hard questions about them. As soon as things become too complex, science can’t deal with them. The reason why physics can achieve such depth is that it restricts itself to extremely simple things, abstracted from the complexity of the world. As soon as an atom gets too complicated, maybe helium, they hand it over to chemists. When problems become too complicated for chemists, they hand it over to biologists. Biologists often hand it over to the sociologists, and they hand it over to the historians, and so on. But it’s a complicated matter: Science studies what’s at the edge of understanding, and what’s at the edge of understanding is usually fairly simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too complicated. In fact even understanding insects is an extremely complicated problem in the sciences. So the actual sciences tell us virtually nothing about human affairs.
It is not likely to be the cast that liberals will "misuse" science, as is Moody's concern. It is more likely that they will ignore it.

No comments: