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Both rationalwiki and conservapedia are painfully biased. Neither of you is better than the other. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

But We're not pretending to be an encyclopedia. Totnesmartin 19:57, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Gah, there is a little more to scientism than an ad hominem attack from creationist. Would love to see some work on this a little. tmtoulouse 21:08, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

This article gives the misleading impression that the concept of "scientism" comes from fundamentalist Christianity, and is an attack on science. It's not: it's an epistemological concept critiqued by Feyerabend and the postmodernists, and refers to the view that scientific is universally applicable and/or the only way of knowing.— Unsigned, by: Vaguelyhumanoid / talk / contribs

scientism =/= science, actually like social darwinism =/= Darwin's theory of evolution. (talk) 08:51, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Article is wrong[edit]

It fails to define scientism correctly. Scientism is the belief system that all knowledge comes from the natural sciences, and that the scientific method is a universal method that can be used to source all truth.

I would argue the scientistic position (very common on this site) is both clearly false, and also self-defeating:

  1. Clearly, the scientific method cannot answer questions of pure mathematics. That requires the quite different mathematical method. So the claim that the scientific method is a universal method is false.
  2. Furthermore, we have the question of how many valid methods there are. There are at least two - the scientific and the mathematical. But could there be more? That is a question that neither the scientific method nor the mathematical method can answer. To answer this question, we need a third distinct method, the philosophical method.
  3. Scientism is self-defeating, because it cannot justify itself, because it rejects the use of any method other than the scientific method, but the scientific method can't justify it. The philosophical method could do so, but they reject that method. Hence, by the philosophical method, scientism is self-defeating, and therefore false.

So, contra scientism, there are at least three valid methods - the scientific, the mathematical, and the philosophical. And there may well be more - such as an ethical method, and/or a theological method. Whether those are valid methods is a question for the philosophical method to answer. (((Zack Martin))) 12:44, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

  1. Really? Surely mathematics is the foundation of the scientific method.
  2. Philosophy is self delusion brought about by the limits of knowledge, eventually, if mankind survives long enough, we will be able to "explain" (or eliminate) those things at present described as "philosophical".
  3. see 1) & 2)
Pippa (talk) 13:01, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
  1. Mathematics is not based on the scientific method. You can use experiment and/or observation to determine if Newton's laws of motion are true. You can't use experiment or observation to determine if Fermat's Last Theorem is true.
  2. Anyone who says "Philosophy is self delusion brought about by the limits of knowledge" obviously has very little idea of what philosophy actually is. Philosophy isn't going anywhere, regardless of any scientistic dreams to the contrary.
  3. see 1) & 2)
(((Zack Martin))) 13:05, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
  1. Wrong way round: the scientific method is founded on Mathematics. (without "1 + 1 = 2" there'd be no science)
  2. Philosophy is largely self indulgent crap.
  3. see 1) & 2)
Pippa (talk)
  1. There is much more to the scientific method than mathematics. And the fact that the scientific method is heavily reliant on mathematics (but not completely so), does not change the fact that the scientific method and the mathematical method are different, and mathematical knowledge is not a product of the scientific method
  2. By that statement you prove your ignorance of philosophy
  3. see 1) & 2)
(((Zack Martin))) 13:21, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
  1. Without mathematics there would be no scientific method. Nowhere have I said that the scientific method was entirely mathematics.
  2. So explain in non-exclusive and simple language please. I am a bear of little brain.
  3. see 1) & 2)
Pippa (talk) 13:27, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
One can still follow the scientific method without using mathematics. You will not get very far, yes, but you can still make some progress. And you miss the point - the scientific method and the mathematical methods are different methods, hence the claim that all knowledge comes via the scientific method is false. The fact that the scientific method uses the results of the mathematical method does not change the fact that they are two distinct methods. (((Zack Martin))) 13:44, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Here's wp on philosophy:
Philosophy is the rational study of general subjects concerning which certainty cannot easily be established scientifically or by simple observation. These often include topics that range from existence, knowledge and reason to morality, the mind and beauty.] The English word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom" and was used to refer to any pursuit of knowledge. "Science" was coined to refer to the reasoning known as the scientific method which employed increasingly successful empirical techniques. The term Natural Philosophy was succeeded by the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and biology.
That reads to me that philosophy is the application of "the scientific method" to things which might, at present, be considered outside its scope. Win for scientific method. No? Pippa (talk) 13:37, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
No, philosophy is not the application of the scientific method as we understand it today. One has to remember that it is only in more recent centuries that philosophy and science have been clearly distinguished. Science, as we understand the term today, deals with what we can learn through experiment and observation. Philosophy, as we understand the term today, deals with things we can't learn through experiment and observation, not even in principle. (((Zack Martin))) 13:44, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
mathematical knowledge - no such thing. Maths has no knowledge of its own - it is a tool used to analyse knowledge in other fields. Jack Hughes (talk) 13:41, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes there is such a thing. I know that log10(1000) = 3. How do I know that? Mathematics. There obviously is such a thing as mathematical knowledge. (((Zack Martin))) 13:46, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
That is not knowledge - it's a definition. It says absolutely bugger all about reality. Scientism is saying that science is the pre-eminant tool for understanding reality. How can you use maths without science to investigate the world - answer - you can't. Jack Hughes (talk) 13:51, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
" ...philosophy is not the application of the scientific method..." therefore philosophy is crap. Point made. Pippa (talk) 14:02, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Go tell that to Larry Moran, kiddo. Don't assume that the ramblings of a crank on the Internet are representative of a whole discipline.--ZooGuard (talk) 14:18, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
@Jack: I wonder, does P& § x3D;NPWikipedia? It seems to me a very deep question about reality, not just about mere definitions. We don't have an answer, but I would be fascinated if we found one. And if we find one, it will be a real gain in our knowledge of reality, but one that does not come through the scientific method.
@Pippa: Your blind and irrational faith in scientism is amusing.
@ZooGuard: Maybe rather simply dismissing what I say as the "ramblings of a crank", you could point out the actual flaws in my argument, if there are indeed any. (((Zack Martin))) 14:21, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Being condescended to (at?) by a raving loon (I've got my own religion!) is amusing. Pippa (talk) 14:24, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
You have absolutely no good evidence that scientism is true, other than your own sayso. (((Zack Martin))) 14:27, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Ah well, there is no evidence for anything other than our own senses. You might be a figment (albeit a very strange one) of my mind, if I have a mind. Or, of course, I might be a figment of yours. Given the senses we have there is no evidence (good or bad) for philosophy other than as mental masturbation by those with nothing solid to anchor their lives except a desire to show themselves "better" than the common herd. Scientism works. Philosophy dreams. Pippa (talk) 14:34, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Sorry, Maratrean, I have this conviction that you're a total idiot and therefore anything you write is likely to be a whole barrel of hogwash. If this colours my attitude, then so be it. Pippa (talk) 14:46, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Re Maratrean: Troll steriletalk 15:08, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Maratrean has the right of it here. The article's definition of scientism is too vague and (on the most natural reading) mistaken. A better definition would look something like this: Scientism is the claim that all meaningful questions can be answered through scientific investigation.
As it happens, Maratrean is also right that scientism (so understood) is false. One thing the article gets right, though, which might have been lost in the discussion here is that accusations of scientism are often used inappropriately. There really are meaningful questions that aren't amenable to scientific investigation, but that in no way diminishes the value of scientific inquiry. For example, my work is in modality; in particular, I'm interested in the truth conditions for modal statements (i.e. statements about what is possible and what is necessary). So, is it true that water might have some chemical composition other than H2O? The scientific story here can tell us that water is in fact H2O, but it's not clear that it can tell us anything about whether or not water could be something else. Maratrean's examples involving mathematical truths are also fairly clear-cut cases of non-scientific knowledge.
My own view is that the scientific method is an astonishingly successful way of acquiring knowledge about the world. In fact, it's the best way we have of gaining such knowledge. But it's fairly obvious that there are also some a priori truths, and scientific investigation isn't going to be very helpful in getting us knowledge there. There. we need to use the methods of philosophy. It's also fairly obvious that we also have various ways of making shit up, under which heading I'd put so-called divine revelation and other "spiritual" approaches. These aren't ways of knowing at all, and as a result we can't come to know anything through such methods. In order for something to be a way of knowing, it has to provide epistemic warrant for beliefs, and revelation, imagination, hallucination, and other fantastical approaches don't reach that bar. TallMan (talk) 15:15, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Good post! Jack Hughes (talk) 15:19, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm not a scientists, though I try to apply scientific methods to my study of religion and language. I do philo, but i don't think Philo can provide Capital T truth, just "some truths that work here and now, based on us being human and nothing else". But, my question Tall man -- give those quite serious limitations, what are these "apriori truths". I've see it well argued that 2+1 = 3 is not a truth, it's a description based only on our defintion of things like 1, 2, plus and equals. I've had all of ONE class on philo of science, so "have seen it argued" means little. I'm just curious, that's all.Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 15:31, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
As Maratrean has said, the view you're talking about sounds a lot like formalism. It's worth noting that formalists don't dispute that, e.g. '2+1=3' expresses a truth. To the best of my knowledge they'd even say it's an a priori truth. It's not a necessary truth, though, since it's just a consequence of our stipulative definitions of the relevant terms. Formalists think of math as game-like. By analogy, consider chess; it's undoubtedly true that bishops move along diagonals, and if you know the rules of chess and the initial set-up then you can deduce using a priori methods that the queen's bishop can't ever move to a light square. But it's not like the rules of chess are necessary truths or, indeed, anything more interesting than a collection of social practices.
Formalism is often thought to be pretty much dead in the water due to Gödel's incompleteness proofs. I'm inclined to agree.TallMan (talk) 03:27, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
@TallMan: Well, I would agree with TallMan that are valid "ways of knowing" other than the natural sciences, and mathematics and philosophy are two of them. Are there more? I would suggest there is at least an ethical way of knowing, a way of apprehending the truth of objective a priori synthetic propositions about ethics (moral sense theory or moral intuitionism). TallMan may well disagree that such a way of knowing exists. I am also interested in the idea of a theological (faith-based) way of knowing, and it seems pretty clear TallMan rejects the validity of that. But I think both these examples raise the interesting meta-questions, of "How many valid ways of knowing / methods are there, and which are they? What criteria decides if a purported way of knowing is valid? How do we know any such purported criteria are right or wrong?". I think those meta-questions are for the philosophical method to answer, but it is not prima facie clear what the answer is, or how we can answer it. I would suggest, the reasonable thing to say, is there are at least three methods, and if there are more is an open question. I am not sure how we can dismiss the possibility of other ways of knowing out of hand, without further philosophical research.
@Godot: Yes, that is the formalist position in the philosophy of mathematics, that mathematics is just a kind of symbol manipulation game, and so can't tell us anything deep about reality. And some mathematicians adopt that viewpoint. Others however, and I agree with them, find that when faced with certain deep mathematical questions (e.g. Gödel's theorems, the halting problem, P=NP), they are actually learning something real about reality, something far more profound than just symbol-shuffling. (((Zack Martin))) 00:41, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Science, of course, suffers from the problem of induction, and never "proves" anything to 100% certainty. I think the problem of the word scientism is that more often than not a rhetorical device to blow off the results of science, much like the word Darwinism. (It's almost the equivalent of a science chauvinist.) "Oh, he belives in global warming because he subscribes to scientism." The problem is that such a statement says nothing of the validity of global warming or its evidence. (Perhaps we should call you a subsciber of philosphism, M.) steriletalk 01:48, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course, the scientific method has its limitations, such as the problem of induction, but that does not mean it is without value. All methods have their limitations, but those limitations do not erase what they can positively contribute. Scientism is a refusal to acknowledge the real limitations of the scientific method.
But, what you are talking about is actually something different, the rhetorical misuse of the word "scientism". Scientism is not acceptance of the legitimate results of science (such as anthropogenic climate change) which someone disagrees with. The climate is an issue within the legitimate scope of science, so it is legitimate to use science to answer it. Mathematical questions, philosophical questions like TallMan and myself have mentioned, are outside the legitimate scope of the scientific method, so it can't answer them.
I am not a subscriber of "philosophism", since I don't claim the philosophical method is the only way of knowing. Is climate change occurring? Answering that question does not lie within the legitimate bounds of philosophy. If someone thought they could answer questions about climate change, without using science, but instead using philosophy, then yes I would say they are a philosophist, and philosophism is as equally wrong as scientism. But, to be fair, philosophism is almost unheard of, scientism is very common. (((Zack Martin))) 01:59, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
You misinterpreted what I wrote, but that's OK. (I'm not disagreeing with you per se, but the term is often misused.) And the philosophism was just my kidding around. steriletalk 02:08, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Edit break + tangent[edit]

Yeah, needs a lot of work. I think it should be broken into two sections -- legitimate uses and straw man use. Eugenics, for example, was a clear case of scientism. Nassim Taleb is famous for pointing out the scientism in economics and finance (though I don't think he uses the word specifically). Generally, cases of scientism seem to have an element of using "sciencey" methods (think "scientific socialism") to rationalize a pre-existing belief (aka crankery) or massively overgeneralize conclusions based on preliminary or conflicting data. In the second, straw man case, it's usually bandied about by cranks who don't like the fact that science has proven them wrong and want to sound philosophical and high falutin' while calling things like evolution and global warming "pseudoscience." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:01, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Just adding, "Scientism is a refusal to acknowledge the real limitations of the scientific method." That pretty much nails it (the non-crank use at least). Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:03, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
I like it. It's better, I think, than my own attempt.TallMan (talk) 03:14, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Lab Coated tv sales[edit]

Question: is "scientist" also part of the background for the "i'm in a white lab coat, so you should just trust I know what I'm saying when I say buy this cat litter or that brand of deodorant". Cause if it is part of teh same thing, that side of "science" or rather, the media marketing science for its own good, is probably worth talking about. Pink mowse.pngGodotI smell roasted chestnuts. droollllllll. 19:31, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Fucking sellouts. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 20:34, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Fixed it[edit]

I changed it by introducing it as a philosophical term and then moving onto mis-usages of the term. It's a simple, stylistic edit, but if you have any problems with it, please delete and/or fix what I wrote because I don't want to ruin anything here. <font size="1" color="purple"><b>[[User:Tesseract|Tesseract]]</b> </font> (talk) 21:22, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Its primary use these days is pejorative; this needs to be stated early - David Gerard (talk) 19:41, 20 January 2012 (UTC)