“Scientism” is a slippery category, thus making it ideally suited for charges and accusations that are difficult to refute. For those who are more familiar with my views, it should come as no surprise that I accuse almost all intellectuals within the Bloggernacle of advocating “scientism”, a label which they strongly – and with some reason – reject. Their idea of “scientism” is a much more localized and extreme group of people from which most such intellectuals seek to distance themselves. As such, these people are strong advocates of “epistemological humility” – as defined by the distinction that they wish to emphasize between themselves and those more extreme advocates of scientism. By disentangling the 5 different levels of legitimacy that we might attribute to science I wish to clarify why I stand by my accusing so many others of scientism and why I am so dismissive of their pretensions to “epistemic humility”.
To anticipate a bit, the 5 levels are as follows:
- Science is king and you are its subjects.
- You are king and science is your only adviser.
- You are king and science is your most important adviser, above all others.
- You are king and science is one among many advisers.
- You are king and science is your subject.