I have previously written on the power of science and the dangers of scientism. Adam Frank, Astrophysicist and Professor at University of Rochester has an outstanding blogpost at NPR’s 13.7 blog titled “The Power of Science and the Danger of Scientism”.
I will not do an analysis of the article as it hits on many of the same points I made in the two posts linked above. I encourage you to read the entire article here but a summary of the key quotes is informative:
“Can you be a strident defender of science and still be suspicious of the way it is appropriated within culture? Can you be passionate about the practice and promise of science, yet still remain troubled by the way other beliefs and assumptions are heralded in its name? If such a thing is possible, you may be pro-science but anti-scientism
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The efficacy of science generates a powerful attraction for advocates of (often unspoken) philosophical assumptions. These are people who seek to cloak their beliefs in the legitimacy of the scientific enterprise. This is where scientism raises its ugly head.
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[A dismissal of attackers of scientism] misses the point that science gets used within culture for more than just legitimate purposes. In fact it’s the very efficacy of its tools that allows cultural misappropriations of science to go unnoticed.
Part of this misappropriation comes from thinking that, since science is so good at providing explanations, explanations are all that matter. It’s an approach that levels human experience in ways that are both dangerous and sad. In discussions of human spirituality and science, for example, it leads to cartoon arguments between Richard Dawkins and fundamentalists about who started the universe.
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Scientism is an unfortunate consequence of the success science has had explaining the natural world. It would, in fact, be useful to clarify how scientism manifests itself. That would help us understand the damage it does to the real project that lies ahead of us: building space for the full spectrum of human being in a culture fully shaped by science.”