Why I Like Science

When did “science” become a word with political connotations? I guess around the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial. But science ought to be considered an objective medium, not subjective content.

“Science” is a verb, not a noun. Science is a method, not product. Science is analogous to “language” — it is a set of logical rules that allow for communication.

Sorry anarchists, but you have to have rules, in order to interact. Yeah, I know, “rules” have a bad connotation. “Rules” suggest things that you are forbidden from doing because they are “against the rules.” But “rules” also establish a framework of how to interact. And rules are absolutely necessary. Rules tells us how to do things correctly. They are a meta- part of interaction. Would you like to play a game? Well you need to agree on the rules of the game. Or else there can be no game. There is no game without rules–the rules define what the game is, the allowable actions, what choices you can make to win the game against other people who are also playing by the rules. There can be no strategy without rules, or else the loudest most powerful person wins all of the time. The rules are the medium by which people interact to play a game.

Science is set of rules. You can’t make up a new set of science rules in order to “win” an argument. If “an object that is in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by another force” is a rule of science (physics), you can’t say that that applies in some circumstances but not others. That’s the rule. So if I throw a ball against a wall and it hits the wall and falls to the floor rather than continuing in a straight line, I have to explain how that happened according to the rule (gravity is an outside force pulling the ball toward the center of the earth).

Cheaters break the rules. They can’t win unless they (a) pretend to play by the rules but don’t; or (b) declare the rules invalid. People who are against science don’t fit (a) but can only rely on (b).

Here is a rule of thumb: if you meet somebody that says that “science” itself is fake or subjective–they are probably trying to win at some political argument at which they have no objective ability to win.

Let’s take two examples:

  1. Two men are on one side of the Grand Canyon. They are hungry and thirsty and need to get to the other side. One man says “We have to climb down the canyon to the valley and find a way back up the other side to the village that we can see on the other side.” The other says “I think we can jump across.” Science allows the two men to have an argument based on a common set of objective facts. Says the first man “I think if we jump, gravity will pull us toward the bottom of the canyon. We can only propel ourselves forward at 3 mph, but gravity will propel us at 32 feet per second toward the center of the earth…and the other side of the canyon is 1/4 mile away…if we run and jump our momentum will not be enough to carry us forward to the other side of the canyon before gravity pulls us down.” The men can have an argument based on specifics IF they agree on the science. The second man could say, for example, “If we hike up the canyon to that outcropping, we only have to jump three feet to the other side.” That’s a legit argument, based on the rules of science. If the second man, though, says “Nah I don’t believe in science, I think if we run and jump we will fly through space and not get pulled down by gravity” then the first man should say “This guy is a lunatic and I’m definitely not going to follow this other guy’s lead.”
  2. Two legislators are debating whether to adopt a law that says that $1M should be spent to plant corn in the frozen tundra of Alaska. The first person says “This makes no sense…the seeds will never grow in frozen snowy ground…it just can’t happen because of science.” Now the second legislator can either say “well I have a plan to warm the ground so that the seeds will grow” (science) or “that’s just your opinion, I think seeds will grow in tundra if we want them to” (rejection of science; no ability to debate because the legislators don’t agree on a common set of physical cause-and-reaction rules).

In the last two generations our legislators have devolved into kinds of people. One says “we should do X because it makes sense based on everything we know about how the world works” and the other group which is elected due to contributions from groups (religious; corporate) which exist due to the status quo, who cannot win an argument based on facts, who therefore have to cheat at the game by championing a public opinion campaign against science as a set of rules.

Objectively: “We know that evolution is real, everything we have learned through the scientific method proves it.

Subjectively: “I reject the whole idea of the scientific method. Why? Because…well because I can’t win if we use science. Therefore science itself is wrong…and everybody can believe what they want…and how come you’re talking about science? If you talk about science you must be a communist (1955 Joseph McCarthy) or a pedophile (2020 QAnon).”

You can disagree about the conclusions of the scientific method (the premises are wrong; you reached a wrong conclusion based  on the facts)–but to call science itself wrong or to suggest it is based on political opinions is a really good sign that the person with whom you are talking has an opinion that is not based in reality, just some emotional opinion.

I base my conclusions on science and really despise people who argue against me based on non-scientific feelings, whether they are on the right (“there’s no such thing as global warming because God made the earth”) or the left (“there’s not such thing as truth”; “If I say I can see auras around people then you can’t tell me I don’t even though I can’t explain why or how that could be true.”)

Science, essentially, allows a person who is intelligent to tell a person who is not intelligent that they are full of shit. That’s why I like science.