Back in August when it was first released, I linked to a study from the Reproduciblity Project about the lack of reproducibility in behavioral science studies and its implications for social policy making. (That post followed-up in part a post I had done in July on authority and science.)
Come this week there is a fantastic article by Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard that dives deeply into the “behavioral sciences.” You really need to take the time to read it all.
I want to focus on this one specific paragraph from Ferguson’s excellent piece:
For even as it endows social scientists with bogus authority—making them the go-to guys for marketers, ideologues, policymakers, and anyone else who strives to manipulate the public—it dehumanizes the rest of us. The historian and humanist Jacques Barzun noticed this problem 50 years ago in his great book Science: The Glorious Entertainment. Social psychology proceeds by assuming that the objects (a revealing word) of its study lack the capacity to know and explain themselves accurately. This is the capacity that makes us uniquely human and makes self-government plausible. We should know enough to be wary of any enterprise built on its repudiation. [emphasis added]
Ferguson uses this as part of a discussion of the lack of humility among behavioral scientists. But I see this excellent observation about what it means to be human on a different level. This is the point at which religion and science are really at war. It is not evolution, or the physics of creation, it is here in the so-called social and behavioral sciences where religion and science genuinely crash. Fundamental to the Judeo/Christian world view is that humans are Imago Dei – in the image of God. “Science” that assumes we are objects that can be manipulated is entirely and completely antithetical to such a notion. This renders the great debates surrounding creation as merely diversions.
But what I find most troubling about Ferguson’s magnificent observation is that entirely too often we give the behavioral “scientists” reason to continue with their dehumanizing presumptions. Continue Reading