The Bourbon Democrats and The Experts at I Love Science Sexually*

IFLS

I learned from the brilliantly brilliant people who publish the blog I Love Science Sexually. Bless their hearts, they have told me what to do. Luckily for my poor, limited, peasant brain, it involves nothing arduous that would worry my pretty little head. They could tell me that I should think for myself, rigorously question and demand logical proof presented in an environment governed by gracious professionalism. Nah, that’s too tough for the Internet Age. I should just shut up and listen to the smarter people.

If we want to use scientific thinking to solve problems, we need people to appreciate evidence and heed expert advice.

It’s always jarring to my intellectual sensibilities to hear scientific minds speak philosophical malapropisms. How does one apply aesthetic appreciation to evidence? Truth is beauty and beauty is truth when you’re writing poetry. We evaluate evidence. It is necessary and/or sufficient within the logical context of an argument or it is not. I’m no ingrate or Philistine for failing to appreciate a set of data on a spreadsheet one way or the other.

This fallacy is subtle yet critical to the problems facing the modern scientific establishment. I don’t believe the attempt to substitute a normative value judgment regarding evidence for a positive evaluation thereof is entirely accidental. This is dangerous. Rigorous empirical logic and rigorous moral thinking belong in separate categories like the Established Church and Governing State. History is littered with moral abominations who were Less Wrong™ with respect to their logical arguments.

And then there is the anti-democratic appellation to heed the experts. It’s at this point where the I Love Science Sexually Blog stops being merely errant and veers into moral iniquity. Listening to experts is different than heeding them. Experts are very smart people who have a concentrated understanding with respect to one specialized branch of knowledge. It’s worth your time to ask their opinions regarding subjects in which they are subject matter experts. However, it is presumptuous overreach to claim we should heed them. They are not your dad.

This is where The I Love Science Sexually Blog and those of a similar philosophical ilk descend into Jonathan Gruberism. This is because experts know more than you. They get to predetermine what constitutes evidence, how that evidence is gathered, who gets to review that evidence and most importantly in contention over which hypotheses the evidence is even gathered. So disregarding someone with that much power over what you are even allowed to think about is dangerous. It could lead to critical thinking and we all know it sucks to be criticized.

And then it gets even more disingenuous. The I Love Science Sexually Blog then serves the following Dog’s Breakfast of epistemologically invalid special pleading.

Science is meant to be done dispassionately and objectively, so scientists are not well equipped to participate in debates about values. This is the realm of ethicists, philosophers, artists and theologians. But if we are passionate about applying the lessons learned from our research, we will need marketers, lobbyists, communication experts, accountants and economists. A multi-disciplinary team is required to convince society to change.

Where it ever became the job of science to make society change is beyond me. We have untold examples of what happens when panels of military officers consider themselves experts and take it upon themselves to make society change. Hugo Chavez and Augusto Pinochet spring immediately to mind. And it’s not as if the call to heed scientific experts has ever been used to justify anything evil to society like racism, eugenics or slavery.

I’m sure if I Love Science Sexually had been around in the 1930’s, they’d have saluted Senator Bilbo for listening to the experts like Louis Agassiz and Voltaire and applying the lessons of their race realism to public debate. You’ve got to heed the experts from institutions like Harvard University and The French Enlightenment.

Which brings us to the crux of why IFLScience is such a culturally and scientifically regressive force. By refusing to let anyone question coruscating brilliance of !SCIENCE!, IFLScience becomes more intellectually reactionary than Cato the Elder. True science advances over a wall of objections and a minefield of epistemological challenges. It ossifies into self-interested, establishmentarian ignorance worthy of The Bourbon Democrats when all dissenting voices are decried and derided as Denialists. I’ll make the geniuses at I Love Science Sexually a deal. I’ll respect the experts when the experts condescend far enough from their august pedestals to respect me.

*-One of the bloggers at Ace of Spades uses “I Love Science Sexually” as a Twitter Handle to mock IFLScience.com