Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Dumbest Take On The Google Diversity Dust-Up Yet: "Stop Equating Science With Truth"

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein...apparently a philosopher of science even.
   Some essays are terrible...and some are so terrible it makes your heart sink. This is one of the latter. It is so awful I basically couldn't finish it.
   I'm just not going to waste my time going through this thing. It's just gut-wrenching terrible. I will note, however: it is, of course, true that science is not identical with truth. I mean...I'm not sure how many people have ever made that mistake...  It's in the vicinity of a category mistake. It's a bit like saying that God is not the same thing as religion, or democracy is not the same thing as the President, or universities are not identical with knowledge. I mean...I suppose someone might have made that mistake somewhere in human history...maybe. At any rate, it's fairly easy to be right about something that dumb. But it's entirely beside the point.
   Here's what matters: our best guide to the truth in relevant cases is typically the conclusions of scientists. Damore's claims are in accordance with the conclusions of many scientists. Therefore, Damore's claims are, so far as we can tell, reasonable and reasonably likely to be true given what we currently know. No one confuses science with truth. We can speak in terms of justification, or we can speak in terms of truth. we can say that Damore's claims are fairly likely to be true, or we can say that they are justified. Those are two different ways of skinning the same cat. To say that they are consistent with scientific conclusions is another way of saying that they are justified. It's not a difficult point.
   Prescod-Weinstein's arguments represent a type of chicanery common on the left (also: the right...but less often these days). When the left likes the conclusions, as with global warming, for example, science has spoken! 90% consensus! IT IS FACT! When it comes to conclusions they dislike--e.g. the ones in Damore's essay--suddenly the tune changes--Science, schmience...Pervasive bias! We could be wrong!...and now: Science? WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH TRUTH????
   The key to having a really resilient dogma is to sow confusion. Dissemble, obfuscate, babble, misdirect, employ differential standards of proof...make it into a shell game played in dim light and thick fog. And that's what progressives are out to do here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here's what matters: our best guide to the truth in relevant cases is typically the conclusions of scientists. Damore's claims are in accordance with the conclusions of many scientists."

This needs to be refined a bit to avoid the problem of making it a matter of expertise. Science produces accurate and predictive results by subjecting hypothesize first to formalization, then to a highly competitive system of falsification. It is imperfect of course, but the methodology is really what is doing the heavy lifting, scientists themselves are the tools of it.

And what makes the race/gender difference evidence so compelling is that it survives the scrutiny of scientists who are extremely motivated to disprove it. We should say it is in accordance to the conclusions of many scientists, despite every attempt to falsify them given their ideological priors. So you don't even need to extend any trust to the scientists themselves to find it compelling.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Absolutely, and thanks for the correction.

My way of putting the point (and I know you know this) was just cast in terms of the direct indicators laypeople use: we use the opinions of scientists rather like we use thermometers (or storm clouds). Of course, neither one is an oracle; there are reasons why each is typically reliable. And we could also cast the point in terms of those reasons.

2:30 PM  

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