FOLLOW THE SCIENCE
SAID THE SPIDER TO THE FLY
Okay, I know I made a big deal in the last post about moving into a new phase of exploring the biopolitics and biological realist dimensions of this substack’s analysis. So, this quickie is going to seem a little anti-climactic. Sorry, and to be honest, I’m getting to the point where there are now enough posts here that I’m having a hard time remembering what exactly has been addressed, where, to what degree. I certainly did raise the matter of how the naturalistic fallacy operates ideologically for the managerial class in my review of Reno’s Return of the Strong Gods. However, I’m not sure if I’ve ever addressed head on the most popular managerial class use of this mental-pretzel device over the last couple years of the COVID regime. Incredibly, though, someone again recently threw at me the “follow the science” line, so I wanted to just say a couple quick words about this.
The science is crystal clear that when human bodies drop from very high bridges or tall buildings, they dependably splat upon impact. Splatting human bodies tend to end human lives. Being aware of this fact, the overwhelming majority of people “follow the science” by ensuring as much as reasonably possible that they do not engage in activities likely to result in them dropping from such places. Interestingly, though, around the world, thousands of people a year annually, deliberately jump off such high bridges and tall buildings. These people, no less than those others, scrupulously “follow the science.”
Science only ever tells you the probable consequences of actions; it can never tell anyone which consequences they should seek or avoid, which actions they should take or forego. People who commit suicide are, in the language of economists, demonstrating their revealed preferences. How much you value life, or no longer living, determines what you do with the knowledge that dropping from high bridges or tall buildings will likely kill you. Science cannot determine your values; rather, your values determine what you do with scientific knowledge.
The confusion here is at the heart of the naturalistic fallacy, which I addressed in the Reno review. The managerial class, whose rule is legitimized through a claim to deep social engineering acumen, drapes itself in the flag of a transcendent science. (What Hayek characterized as scientism.) It should hardly be surprising then that that class should couch its apologia for the years of COVID rationalized social engineering and bureaucratic paternalism with the equally resonant and trite slogan of “follow the science.” No amount of following the science though could ever determine what tradeoffs people are (or should be) prepared to endure for unprecedented mass social lockdowns or acceptance of rushed, emergency use authorized medical procedures which required improvised redefinition of the word vaccine. These determinations arise from someone’s values, not science. The vital question of course is whose values exactly was it that triumphed under the banner of “follow the science”?
There are two thoughts I’d leave you with from these brief comments. First, this really is the soft underbelly of managerial class rule. If the whole population woke up tomorrow and suddenly understood that science literally leads nowhere; that in the realm of human action science is at best a tool for gathering tactical intelligence; and that it is human values that inform our institutions and policies, and breathe life into human communities; that class’s rule would be overnight reduced to naked force. Anyone, including Turchin’s surplus elite, who recognizes the need to rein in the presently dominant ruling globalist faction of the managerial class has here the single stray thread which, if pulled upon, could unravel the entire fabric of that ruling faction’s hegemony. That’s something essential to keep in mind.
And the second takeaway: as weak a factor as science is in the realms of human values and action, for all its problems it is still the best method available for approaching empirical truth. It does only allow us to approach it, never definitively assert it; but that’s still pretty darn good. And while I’m sure my thoughts scattered throughout this substack indicate my sympathy for the populist insurgency taking place around much of the world, at the end of the day – in the spirit of both Italian political realism and biological realism – I’m focused on understanding what is happening in the world and perhaps even why its happening. Though I’m well aware that that understanding can provide valuable tactical intelligence in the fraught enterprise of populist insurgency. That’s why I think its time for the much promised biological-turn…coming soon.
Much of what is teased at above will be fleshed out much more in the next post.
So, if you haven’t yet…