Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Self-Delusion and Misrepresentation

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Self-Delusion and Misrepresentation

Article excerpt

More than 30 years ago, I published an essay ("Titans Clashing: The Art of Science and the Science of Art." Journal of Thought 15.4 [Winter 1980]: 53 -64) in which I denounced the foolish desire of humanists and especially social scientists to turn imprecise disciplines into a science, at least nominally. This, of course, is delusional. Even biology and geology (two of the five hard sciences) lack precision and despite the extraordinary advances in genomics or neuroscience, meteorology or vulcanology, they are often incapable of predicting and controlling (the two goals of science). Astronomy, physics, and chemistry do a better job here. Social scientists think they are able to manipulate organic life forms the way physicists control particles or light in an accelerator or laboratory. We have, for example, library science and the dismal science (economics). The most egregious imitators of the scientific method, where it is often entirely inapplicable, are psychologists, who frequently unethically deceive their human subjects (with the apparent approbation of the American Psychological Association and their institutional review boards, which oversee academic research) and harm animals. …

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