What is Scientism?

Who practices scientism? List some names. Scientism is another creationist term meant to harash scientists and those working in science.

sceintism = positivism. It is a real thing.

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Harashing scientists with hararsh criticism.


I’ll quote from the “About” page of coelsblog: “This blog aims to cover topics of interest to me, mostly related to the nature of science and a scientific world-view. In particular I defend scientism, secularism and atheism.”

From wikipedia;

Non-religious scholars have also linked New Atheist thought with scientism. Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel argues that neuroscientist Sam Harris conflates all empirical knowledge with that of scientific knowledge.[43] Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton argues that Christopher Hitchens possesses an “old-fashioned scientistic notion of what counts as evidence” that reduces knowledge to what can and cannot be proven by scientific procedure.[44] Agnostic philosopher Anthony Kenny has also criticized New Atheist philosopher Alexander Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality for resurrecting a self-refuting epistemology of logical positivism and reducing all knowledge of the universe to the discipline of physics.[45]

There have been a chorus of complaints from philosophy about Dawkins and the New Atheists for a while. They do seem to at least rhetorically argue like they are for scientism. The problem is that scientism is ultimately incoherent. No one lives by science alone.

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I agree with that. It’s never clear what people mean by “scientism”. But I quoted coelsblog, because coel embraces scientism. At times, Jerry Coyne seems to come close to embracing it, though he tries to keep a little distance.


Honestly, the New Atheists have never really been making a primarily logical or rational appeal. They are making an emotional and moral appeal. Their rhetoric has been indigence against religion because religion is immoral. They have eschewed precision in any positive case they are bringing forward for atheism, except to say that nothing more is needed. Scientism works great rhetorically for their purposes, and they have not really worried about trying to create an actual case for scientism. So I’d say they are rhetorically appealing to scientism, though they haven’t thought through it enough to be actually arguing for scientism.

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When I use it is when people practice the misrepresentation of speculation as tested science. Universal Common Descent is an example.

Both sides make emotional appeals.

Both sides attempt to frame their arguments, so as to make it look like a logical appeal. But it is never just a logical appeal.

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No that is not an example of scientism. This is just indication that you don’t know what scientism is or your don’t know how we’ve tested UCD, or both.


As an atheist, I would like to see science and reason used to solve human condition problems instead of invoking religious doctrine, dogma, and reference to ancient writings that stand in the way solving those problems. Is that scientism?

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I don’t believe the claim is tested and I have been listen to claims for the last 4 years. UC Berkeley calls it is a working hypothesis which is better then claiming it is tested science when it is not.

To me, this does not make sense. It can be a working hypothesis, it can be well tested, and it can fail to have been conclusively proved. Those are not mutually exclusive possibilities.

You are articulating a preference here, nothing more.

Somethings may not be solvable this way, and you would just end up disliking this fact of the world. This does not put you in the scientism camp. It just puts you in the disappointed camp.

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@colewd, where do you currently stand on common descent of humans with the great apes? Do you affirm this or not?

Can you supply evidence that it has been tested? Since this includes many transitions supporting this claim with experimental evidence is very difficult. Start with the origin of the eukaryotic cell and multicellular life.

Both these transitions are mission critical to the claim. Both these transitions are so dramatic universal common descent as an explanation is best case speculation and worst case almost certainly wrong.

Help me out here?

OK. This is a much easier claim the universal common descent. :slight_smile:

Another reason this isn’t scientism is that if it were true, you only be saying UCD is established in science or maybe unscientific. If it isn’t an established scientific finding, then it isn’t scientism is it?

So if human are a product of common descent why would doubt the rest of life is too? On what grounds exactly?