A science based on convictions is not science. Science based on opinions or ideology is not science. Consider Trofim Lysenko, Soviet scientist, whose anti-Mendelian genetics were the basis of an agricultural policy that resulted in millions dying of famine. Lysenko believed in the idea of Lamarckian inheritance, which proved deadly wrong in practice. Any scientific dissent from Lysenko’s conviction was made illegal in the Soviet Union in 1948 and hundreds of scientists were literally “cancelled” for their dissent from Lysenko’s obviously wrong conviction.
Nietzsche points out that convictions in science should be considered hypotheses: “it is only when they are willing to reduce themselves to the humble status of a hypothesis, of a preliminary experimental standoff, of a regulative fiction, that they may be allowed to enter the domain of knowledge.” Just because your ideology equips you to believe something, doesn’t make it true; and censoring dissent from your conviction only leads to disaster. Unfortunately, censorship has always been a part of the scientific process.
We can see this Lysenko-style science dominating the media today in the concept of “the science is settled.” All this really means is that the media is pushing ideological convictions as “science,” supported with little more than anecdotal evidence. More anecdotes don’t mean more truth, they simply reflect the number of people with a particular conviction.
We also see this acceptance of ideologically-based science running roughshod over academic and government institutions, all in the name of holding the “correct” convictions. Uncomfortable hypotheses, or even uncomfortable scientific truths, are given the Lysenko treatment and banned.True believers with blue checkmarks on Twitter, academic peer reviewers, journal editors, all relish their power to mob a scientist without the ‘correct” convictions, whether motivated by virtue signaling to others of like-minded convictions or a mania for the power of cancel culture.
Science based on convictions, rather than science based on experimentally verifiable facts, is why we’re in such a shit show today. Witness the hysteria if you even suggest COVID 19 was a result of a lab leak. Witness the hysteria if you even suggest biological truths that are contra to ideological convictions. Witness the hysteria if you even suggest that “systemic bias” isn’t the root cause of every problem in the world.
Ironically, Nietzsche also pointed out that science itself is based on a conviction: “the question of whether truth is necessary must not only be answered in the affirmative beforehand, it must be answered in the affirmative to such extent that the principle, faith or conviction is expressed that ‘nothing is more necessary than truth.” Why not error, blindness and falsehood? Perhaps even the necessity of deception. Hasn’t deception, error, even untruth been more valuable throughout history than the desire for truth?
The Soviet state media was called Pravda, “truth,” and printed nothing but lies, falsehood and deception. Much of our present day media is actively engaged in misinformation, falsehood and deception, based on ideological convictions, Woke Pravda. Perhaps Nietzsche was on to something with the value of deception, error, and untruth.
Can a society exist and thrive with a science based on ideological convictions rather than provable truth? Even today, as Loren Graham writes in Lysenko’s Ghost, a coalition of nationalist and anti-Western Russians is trying to rehabilitate his ideas. It seems we never learn in our desire to be ideologically pure in our mad rush for power.