Back Off Science

The enemies

Posted in 1 by backoffscience on September 9, 2009

Maybe it’ll give you a better idea if I set out my enemies. They’re obviously not personal enemies, they’re just doing things wrong.

Now the basic idea is that reductive investigation mangles narrative, so where science touches language-in-use-by-humans (thats what I’m using the word narrative for) it creates confusion.

This happens in the following areas:

Human evolution. From the beginning of complex cultural human life, the best explanation for what we now do (and why our ancestors did what they did) is found in a description of the interconnected lives and thoughts and words and deeds of the human race. Looking at the genetic starting point and adding to it the rules of thumb for growth and behaviour, and the history of our biology and genes doesn’t even get close. It is a human story, and can only be understood as such. If you like you can look at it like this – what are the rules governing the transmission of memes? We obviously make them up as we go along. They change all the time. We decide every day the ideas that carry on. So scientific investigation into religion, culture and society are baddies. This obviously doesn’t exclude finding out what people think and do, because thats not reductive investigation, it’s an art.

Human behaviour. What people do, they do because of what matters to them, what they think is right, what their culture thinks is right, how they’ve learned to behave, what they believe and so on. It cannot be understood by only explaining what the neuroscience of the brain is doing. The whole, “it is discovered that x experience actually changes your brain” headline drives me up the wall. Of course every millisecond of human life has a different brain state. You can’t step in the same brain twice, perhaps. So in the medicalisation of emotion, the deconstruction of responsibility and free will, in the attack on personal faith and an insistence on rationality in emotional matters, science is the baddy.

Human experience. Whether we like it or not, everyone has something it’s like to be them. The fact of consciousness, or subjectivity, or experience – whatever you want to call it – is so interwoven with language as to be inseparable. Wherever science touches it, it goes wrong. There is nothing else interesting about consciousness except this here now. It makes you sound like a hippy, but its the only definition. So when scientists say consciousness is still a mystery, they are talking dangerous rubbish. How can you not be aware of the fact of awareness?  But talking about consciousness makes me dizzy, so I’ll stay away from it to start with.

So there they are. I know, its a fairly big baddy. But you’ve got to try.


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