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The social role of science

What's good in our lives because of civilization, says a pragmatist, is due entirely to technical progress, or at least made possible at all by it. Agricultural techniques and public health programs are clearly the biggest contributors, with transportation, communication and medical technology coming close behind. For example: what is literature without paper? It can be cogently argued, that whoever invented sewers, did more for the civilization of mankind than any prophet or guru. In fact, with an eye to the middle east, the cradle of religion and now a caldron of agony, it is not hard to become totally cynical regarding all but technical progress. What is the difference in these two polar extremes, religion and science, in the development of civilization? Maybe: epistemology; how do we know what we know, and how can we know it is correct? Revelation vs. science (where the latter is: observation plus logic).

Nonetheless, modern physics, as a going social institution, is larded up with the very same sort of 'loco' notions characteristic of sectarian religion, namely: mysteries, miracles and dogma. (Sectarian religion should be sharply distinguished from 'primary religion,' or natural philosophy before exploitation by sectarian zealots, etc. The former comprises mostly questions---posed by everyone (E.g.: Who made the universe?  Why are you and I in it? Etc.)---while sectarian dogma is all too often concocted-on-the-spot, wanna-be answers, frequently for the purpose of manipulation.) This pollution of science is not good. It justifies public irrationality, and various sorts of negative communal behavior. Science nowadays has too often been turned into window dressing for self-serving movements for all variety of special interest groups. Everything goes. There are virtually no standards for valid observations (especially of probabilistic events) or logic, i.e., for the the basic tools of science, the foundation of technology, the material means making civilization at all possible. An effort to purge physics of `loco' ideas, therefore, would seem to have something to recommend it. A small blow struck for civilization.

Of course, much of this fascination with preternatural possibilities appeals to very basic and deep human needs, and much of it, as entertainment, is harmless. Still, the world faces very serious problems, and they will not be solved, as history verifies with vengeance, by those whose imaginations are undisciplined and rooted in unrealistic dreaming or egotistic absolutism. Sewers were not invented by a charismatic `seer,' self-destructive social upheavals and wars, is another matter.

Some, for-what-they-are-worth thoughts on social issues with a physics angle:
1) Intelligent design as dumb statistics id.pdf
2) `Scientism,' the art of hypocrisy      scientism.pdf
3) The Quantum Mechanics of abortion abort.pdf
4) Bookkeeping and conservation laws books.pdf
5} Science (n)or religion                       scirel.pdf

Enough. Back to science:  background.htm#rfs   or top: index.htm