Friday, February 04, 2011

John Gray on science

John Gray is much given to reactionary soundbites ('liberalism is a neo-Christian cult', for example). He also has an obsession with spouting faux-Voegelinian nonsense about modern political religions - 'the religion of humanity' - taking the place of genuine religion in our collectives psyches. He is much given to fallacious arguments to 'prove' his points. For example, this argumentum ad ignorantiam:

It is a commonplace that science has replaced religion. What is less noted is that science has become a vehicle for needs that are indisputably religious. Like religions in the past, though less effectively, science offers meaning and hope. In politics, improvement is fragmentary and reversible; in science, the growth of knowledge is cumulative and now seemingly unstoppable. Science gives a sensation of progress that politics cannot power.

Yes, I would accept that science offers hope. Meaning? Possibly, though I'm not sure about that, and certainly not in any metaphysical way. Just the opposite, I'd have thought. But Gray makes his assertion, with no proof whatever, and immediately, as all good fallacious arguers do, sets about demolishing the false position he has established. In this way, he establishes a completely bogus binary opposition, and attacks science from a base which it does not profess to hold.

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