The despair of a rationalist

One of the few coherent commenters at Bad Astronomy shows genuine insight:

“American Religious Right == another Taliban” is the most apt and precise way of describing the situation. They sound sooooooooooooo similar. How I wish some of the fence-sitters listened to that line of reason.

No, it’s an utterly retarded way to put it, and does much harm to the cause of reason and skepticism. Not to mention it demonstrates a near complete ignorance of what the Taliban was really about. Will you people ever [bleeping] learn that the name calling and hyperbolic comparisons do nothing more than cause the other side (and many of the fence sitters) to circle the wagons? Will you EVER learn this? It happens every time.

You claim to be scientific, but you keep making the same error over and over.

He sounds exactly like an Alliance battleground leader cursing at the idiots who keep trying to burn Tower Point before Iceblood turns. This is a very good example of an influence that was a factor in causing my thinking to adjust significantly over the years. When I was young, I was a dinosaur-enthusiast, I was totally convinced that science was the only means of establishing truth, I was certain that scientists were objective seekers after the truth, and I was ruthlessly committed to the use of reason uber alles. While I was skeptical about evolution, this was more the result of my fifth-grade teachers inability to provide reasonable answers to some of the obvious questions that arose from our textbook than any religious influences. My Dad had a few Young Earth Creationist books that I recall but I didn’t subscribe to it as a kid and I don’t subscribe to it now. To this day, I remain utterly agnostic on the precise mechanisms and timing utilized by the Creator God in constructing this particular creation.

College changed everything for me, although not in the usual manner. The great benefit of studying economics was the dawning realization that not even the world’s greatest experts knew what the hell they were talking about. The beauty and the challenge of economics is that it is both incredibly complex and astoundingly fast-moving. Economists don’t have the luxury of building a crude theoretical model, then sitting around admiring it for fifty years while arrogantly demanding to know if you’ve got anything better because events will usually destroy their latest and greatest within weeks no matter how painstakingly it has been designed, tested and backtested. It’s a fascinating field, and one either has to be a committed ideologue (Karl Marx, Paul Krugman, Larry Kudlow) or have a puckish sense of humor (Josef Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, the Freakonomics guy), to make any useful sense of it. Indeed, had I stuck with economics, I would have pursued a career in econometrics, as in economics and game design alike, the primary factor is probability.

I am not anti-science, I am pro-science reform. But the haughty language and baseless arrogance of the would-be secular priesthood has caused me to conclude that not only is there a massive difference between scientody and scientistry, but that science would be very well served by a significant culling of a scientific community that has gotten well above itself. The absurd figure of the secular scientist evangelist pontificating on matters having little or nothing to do with science proper, and making no use of either reason or scientody to do so, should be as egregiously offensive to scientists truly devoted to the scientific method as the behavior of the Borgia Pope is to devout Catholic Christians today.

So, if I am considered an enemy of science today, it is only because scientists and science fetishists have chosen to view me that way. But when you elect to create an enemy ex nihilo, you should not be terribly surprised when that newly fabricated enemy responds by behaving in a manner very similar to that of a self-declared enemy.