PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, July 07, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: scientific idolatry

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: scientific idolatry.

Idolatry can be summed up as the reverence to a substitute that takes
the place of god, or some other entity we regard as special. Idols,
become idols, when they take the place of sanctity of the original deity
or entity. In a religious context, for example, replacing god with a
saint to worship. This is not to say that one cannot be extremely
devoted to a saint but rather the saint replaces the supremacy of god.

We might take the argument, for example, into football, when the fans
support a player and neglect of the rest of the team. Would this be a
form of soccer (football) idolatry? So what is scientific idolatry?

For something to be an idol it must be a false representation of
something else: keeping with the analogy of religion Moses is not an
idol for God but as we are told in the Old Testament, a golden calf is.
But for the purpose of language we know what God is, who Moses was, and
what a golden calf might look like.

The problem is that the average person has no idea of what science is.
Our everyday conception of science is, of course, that of technology
which for scientists and philosophers is something different from what
science is. One obvious fact for my claim is that charities collect for
a cure for cancer (technology) and not to understand the dynamics of
cells and molecules in the human body and how they fail (science).

Science is best described as the methodology to understand ourselves and
the universe around us. Technology is basically the tools we invent to
exploit our environment based on our knowledge of that environment.

Of course, what matters for scientific idolatry is the language since
very few people are trained in the scientific method. A discussion on
Bayesian statistics vs P-Value statistics just would not make sense for
most of the population, but a discussion of a rocket going to space does
make sense for many.

Of course, there is no rule that says that scientists or philosophers
cannot worship scientific idolatry. The P-Value statistics seems to be a
good candidate in some fields of science as the standard to measure how
the universe works.

But from a general public perspective our idolatry trinkets are
presented to us by the paraphernalia of technology: the white coat, a
view down a microscope, a nice animated graphic, an instrument and so
one. The false prophets that act as mouthpieces for many dubious
products and services including books.

The advantage of idols is that we don't need to think about their
validity, we just have to accept them on the say so of someone. It's
still a pity that many people feel comfortable in a state of ignorance.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: scientific idolatry

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