The issue of science is not so simple and ‘trust’ in science too often fades into mistrust, witness the current pandemic. But the confusions of Trump’s base don’t do justice to the issue!
The larger cultural history of ambivalence to science puts ‘trust’ in something like ‘check’ in chess.
There is hardly anyone more stupid than a supernerd physicist proclaiming his reign over reality and our need to kowtow to that. Figures like Hawkins come close to such a cliche. But he is also an engaging explorer in a new era of physics.
But at the end it is hard to find one’s way: physics has ceased to offer a final world view. That could be another temporary impasse but the fact remains that one must start over at a higher level of the social, the psychological, and must else that eludes the realm of science. An ominous suspicion lurks in the background: string theory, etc, points to something we might have foreseen: the stalemate of science at some point in its expansion. That hasn’t happened yet, but the fact remains that we have no real answers from physics anymore.
The left is also stuck in this obsession with so-called scientism and Marx’s historical materialism is itself caught in a vein of science fundamentalism only to fritter away its credibility with a version of historical speculative theory that puts the whole field of marxism in equivocation.
The question of a social world view aspires to embrace science but is condemned to failure when the result is not science. We can see the problem fairly easily in many cases: science thrives from physics up to biochemistry but then stumbles on the theory of evolution, darwinism. Worse the inability of most scientists to see the problem is diastrous where a figure like Fred Hoyle warned of the statistical illusion of natural selection. The failure of the majority of scientists here should be grounds for a thorough inquiry into the crisis of science.
To a long view the issue has its own history. The Romantic movement, Kant, and much else stands in counterpoint to the growing cult of science, but scientists themselves rarely grasp their own situation.
Now with the mysterious crisis in physics a kind of ‘snapping’ out of science hypnosis is occurring as people in general culture find themselves in a quandary between the end game of religion and the sudden chaotifiation of general physics, now staring into the mysteries of string theory.
Scientists have spawned dozens of pseudo-sciences, in economics, in sociology, in psychology, and the strictures of science are grounds for excommunication of those trying to think for themselves.
The problem should not be so mysterious: we need foremost to simply see what science is: deals in facts, but not values, and that must remind us that at some point we must move beyond science. Beyond that the mystery of consciousness reamins and its mystery stands as a Himalayan obstacle to science.
As a devoted student of science I have considered skepticism about science to be entirely non-controversial and par for the course.
The larger scheme of culture and history is beyond the realm of science and we must deal with that with other methods.
There is a lot more to say here, but one can recommend a larger field of subjects: consider the so-called ‘eonic effect’: its study of history forces the issue of balanced inquiry, a vast field of opposites and the study of such leads to a broader field which may or may not have any scientific reduction.
These debates result from the exaggerated/obsessive belief on both sides and they are issues addressed by figures such as Kant who unfortunately has been banished from public culture even as the &#…