Science as religion
The following philosophical question has been constantly hammering my head these past weeks: how can we explain the reasons behind one group of people's decision to believe and act upon what one specific group of scientists present to the public as "truth", while at the same time a second group of people, in face of the exact same scenario as the former, decides not to believe the former group and focuses their attention on another group of scientists that presents another "truth" diametrically opposed to the one found by the former group.
I have the mask-wearing tug of war in my head right now.
Respected scientists are absolutely divided in their perspectives and recommendations in this coronavirus time. Well, that's what Science is all about, I believe. The reason-based tensions between distinct, even opposed results force different groups to study more, to dedicate more, aiming at trying to see what each research group is still missing, if they are missing anything at all.
Now, society-wise, what is it that leads folks like me, a know-nothing in the virology and epidemiology arenas, to hear Dr. Fauci and not believe in/act upon his assumptions and recommendations from the very beginning, and to take heed to other renowned medical sources, and believe in/act upon what they say? Let's take Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, for instance. Since late February he has been destroying with facts each and every one of Fauci's and the CDC/WHO's narratives related to covid19 and specifically concerning the wearing of masks.
In order to humbly share my two cents, I will borrow the philosophical insights of one of the greatest philosophers from last century.
Max Weber (1864–1920) was the eldest of seven children. He was a precocious but sickly child, suffering from meningitis at an early age, something that bothered him throughout his entire life. His father, Max Sr., was a public servant. His mother was a devout Calvinist, a fact that would become influential in Weber’s theoretical work on the ties between capitalism and religion, magnificently exposed in his book The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism (translated into English for the first time in 1030). Max Weber wrote two essays on German and Roman history as Christmas gifts to his parents when he was just 13 years old! Talk about precocious!!
When he was 18 years of age, he volunteered to serve the German military at the onset of World War I, a war he would later criticize. He also advised the German government as they drafted the Weimar Constitution and eventually campaigned, unsuccessfully, for a parliamentary seat as a member of the liberal German Democratic Party. He resumed teaching in 1919 at the University of Vienna and then the University of Munich. He died of pneumonia complications in 1920 without finishing his greatest work, Economy and Society.
Max Weber created a philosophical term that was popularized only after his death, "disenchantment" (from the German word "entzauberung", literally meaning “de-magicization"). By that he meant the condition of the world after the advent of the Enlightenment, or scientific method, had completely eroded the sway of Religion and superstition in modern society. His concept of disenchantment, in a nutshell, emphasized how the roles of Science and Religion should be, from then onwards, diametrically opposed in modern societies.
For Weber, the use of enlightened reasoning meant that the world was supposed to be more and more demystified. "Religious" accounts of the world, he proposed, had ceased to be plausible criteria to understand life. Therefore, people should pay attention to the ability of Science to explain things in rational terms, without any involvement of emotional or passionate "auguries" or "divination". For him, because of the advent of the Enlightenment, a world full of mysteries should now become more intellectually predictable. In that sense, his "disenchantment of the world" was to be understood as the flip side, or the primary consequence, of scientific progress.
Max Weber's complex philosophical equation can be translated into a simple statement: we should not apply "faith" to Science as we apply "faith" to Religion. Weber barely scratched the surface of how Science should not be "believed" as just another sect or religious set of doctrines, something he accused his countryman Karl Marx of doing. Weber was a ferocious critic of Marx in this regard. And, man, how correct he was! Look at how Socialism has become a religion in our days.
So, here's my personal take.
The WHO, the CDC, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and several other voices - proven deceitful again and again and again since the beginning of this "pandemic" - have become heralds of religious beliefs to so many world leaders and so many people that blindly decided to give them full credit exactly because these folks clearly have a hidden "divine" agenda of power attached to their "science". Like serpents, they have "enchanted" and entrapped a massive portion of the globe's population into deception by using their "science" as a religious doctrine. One needs to be very "awake" and "disenchanted" to smell and identify their charming scare-tactics. "Do as I say or else..."
Dr. Ayyadurai and the whole array of scientists on his side of the spectrum simply motivated folks all over the world to seek the truth without a hidden agenda. By presenting folks with rational guidelines, "disenchanted" people like myself and many others were able to exercise self-government and rationally decide not to be deceived by the former group's "obvious findings", nor to be morally pressed by their passionate accusations and finger-pointing toward those who disagree with them. Instead, scientists in the latter group have sparked our rational perception regarding the stinky smell of the power-hunger odor behind the former group's explicit agenda early on in this process.
This is exactly the philosophical background behind Tucker Carlson's assertion a few days ago, when he said, "Dr. Fauci's religion is wrong. Do not follow him."
Or, as a comment I read this week, "As a pretty smart guy, I will always use my own research, common-sense and my 'bullshit-meter' to sort through this mess."
ELIEL ROSA has built a solid career in the urban planning and public policy arenas in Brazil, Latin American countries, Portuguese-speaking African nations, Spain and in the US for the past 20 years. However, instead of keeping a long list of professional credentials and accomplishments, there is a special, top feature he would want you to retain: he is a diehard America-loving legal immigrant!