The Political Abuse of Science

It has always bothered me that while science cannot explain things like hate and love, good and bad, and many of the most important things in human life, it is used as “authority” for meddling in human affairs. The impulse to explain everything with science has generated a group of pseudoscientists that provide a great tool to power hawkers for their agendas.

When I first heard the term “social science,” for example, I wanted to laugh but couldn’t. We all know – has it been forgotten? – that there is no science for that which science cannot define, the case with almost everything important associated with being human. That politics and fake science have been partners for a long time is no secret. That their illicit relationship is hardly recognized is inexcusable. Enthralled by science, as the public for good reason tends to be, a majority are prone to accept any nonsense in the name of science.

The great successes achieved by scientists have unfortunately given science a prestige and an authority beyond its unquestionable utility. That so many lean on science for their take on just about everything should bother us all since it promotes a confidence in a way of thinking and a way of acting that continually shuts more doors than it opens – a fact recognized by science professionals who fully appreciate their craft and its connection to reality and accept its limitations.

It is important to see that the reduction of human reality to bits of data stuffed in mathematical packets – aping scientific practice – forms a line to lunacy.

Making sense of the world, necessary as food and air for being human, is a tricky balancing act of keeping one foot on matter and one on spirit. It leads many to church and temple. Until recent times these were places where mind and heart could find a line to their Creator. Today, far too many of them have become places where attendees get a line to the latest politics.

Making the church follow, instead of lead the way, became obvious in the 1970s/80s, a time when I sometimes filled-in as layman minister when the pastor of the Newfield (Maine) Methodist church was away. And I was in front of the West Newfield Congregational church on Lay Preacher Sunday. I tried to show that a good heart is not enough to promote the general welfare. It requires a good mind as well. And both were being abducted by pop culture, aided and abetted by pseudoscience. It was essential, I asserted, to understand that in our uncertain world there is a constant need to discriminate between fact and nonsense, science not excluded.

I once used the song “Material Girl” (“...we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl...”) as a springboard for my argument. What kind of world do we actually live in, I asked? When you boil down all the discoveries of all the best minds, you find that every attempt to grasp it slips like dry sand through dry fingers. It amazes me that in a world which physicists have long given up trying to nail the reality of, people at large − sociologists and songwriters among them − still think of the real world as being material.

It is a false notion. How, to sharpen the point, does “matter” arrange itself into hummingbirds, rainbows, smiles, recipes for soup, instructions for safety in an emergency . . . and so on, and so forth? Given the (im)possiblity, such a world would be a huge, dead heap.

The insistence on fragmenting the world and us into bits and pieces of “manageable data” – without regard to their relevance to who we are and the reality we face every day, not just as creatures but as as humans – is a madness worth dumping.

The bluff of self-anointed reformers who wrap themselves in “science” to turn heads away from the human in social, political, and economic policies and practices can and must be called. What is really smart for those who would improve the way we live, not just as creatures but as humans, is to stop thrashing about in their own ignorance and seize upon the wisdom of the One who put them here and gave us a heart, a brain, and the freedom to use them wisely.

Anthony J. DeBlasi is a lifelong defender of Western culture.