The claim that science is inherently untrustworthy because of past errors is fallacious and shows a lack of understanding of the scientific method.
“Remember, science can’t be trusted because of the history of phrenology and eugenics”.
Strange how nobody thinks science can’t be trusted because scientists once posited the existence of “ether” – the imagined medium through which they thought light had to be travelling, which was never found – and the former use of leeches in medical practice.
In every other case of past error, no matter how egregious, we do not demote the self-correcting algorithm that accounted for such error – because disproving the error is a sign of its success, not its failure.
Yet because we had the embarrassing and pernicious pseudo-science of phrenology, the woke anti-science brigade go on to posit that it was not the ancient prejudice of racism that predates modern science by the rest of human history that was responsible, but “science” itself that created it. And only if we elevate “experience” and evidence-free activism – which they conveniently forget was the default for all of civilization when racism was the norm everywhere – will we stop this from happening in the future.
Racism is the default mode of the scared, ignorant ape. Science and reason are the means by which we pull that ape, kicking and screaming, away from the harshness of the wild and towards an ethical civilization. Phrenology was a stop along the way in which the ape was being pulled while still much more deeply drenched in the most ancient of prejudices – not the direct result of science, which some think was the generative event that brought this prejudice into being instead.
It’s a lazy, feckless argument. It has everything to do with opening the door to vaccine-denial, climate change denial, and a post-truth presidency where, since truth is subjective, no real lie can exist that we are justified in punishing, either at the ballot box or in the courtroom.
Editor-in-Chief of Conatus News. Lucas is also a writer and podcaster, with interests in science, religion and politics.