East Hastings: A Love Story »« Free Thoughts #5: The Apple Pie Problem

F–k Anti-Science

Last week was a really, really rough week. Worse than usual, even. Scary terrible things happening, and very suddenly and unexpectedly, as is usually the case with scary terrible things. Lots of complex and intense feelings I didn’t know how to handle. Lots of memories of really awful things that happened to me in the past deciding they’re not keen on being ignored right now. Lots of stuff that had been building up all Spring kind of arriving at a bit of tipping point into badness. And the terrifying realization that having spent almost my entire adult life as an addict means I never actually learned how to deal with rough patches like this. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, or how to get through this, or how to cope. Just kind of have to make it up as I go along.

On Tuesday I met up with my BFF at the comic book store, and we went to sit in the nearby park for a bit and talk. She noticed that my knuckles looked rather red, and asked if I’d been punching the wall or something. I hadn’t, but it kind of occurred to me that I totally did find a punching bag of sorts that morning on the internets in the form of a nice argument against someone promoting dodgy anti-science attitudes of the lefty-academic, post-structuralist vein. The idea that science is this nasty “Western” imperialist concept that pretend it knows everything and thinks it’s the One True Path and disrespects other “ways of knowing” and tries to colonize everyone’s minds and get us all to fit into some particular Western conceptual framework and blah blah blah.

I got a tad more aggressive than usual.

I’m not sure, however, that aggression is an inappropriate response to these attitudes.

When it’s come to confronting attitudes and beliefs I saw as damaging amongst the activist, “progressive” movements to which I belong, I’ve often been hesitant and timid. A lot less open in my opposition, and a lot more likely to simply “agree to disagree”, leave subjects alone and untouched. There’s a lot of fear in that. Perhaps I’m scared of being hated. Perhaps I’m scared of losing friends. Perhaps I’m scared of alienating my allies, scared of falling out of any wider movement and no longer having a community to belong to. Scared of belonging to nothing, to no one, no longer being a part of anything beyond myself. Scared of ending up an isolated misanthrope, fighting a lonely angry war, with no one left I’m actually fighting for. Standing for nothing except pride and a stubborn adherence to inflexible, abstracted principles.

Sure. It’s a thing worth being scared of. But I’m also scared of allowing my participation in activism to be defined by compromise, and of my principles ultimately deteriorating to nothing more than a vague adherence to a certain “side” of a certain dialectic ideological conflict that no longer has much of anything to do with what I actually believe in. Just cheering for my team, no matter what they’ve come to stand for.

And I’m really, really, really scared of ending up blindly supporting an ideology that is going to end up hurting people.

I don’t have the same faith in the narrative of “progress” that most people do. Looking back over recent decades, we still see atrocities. We still see oppression. We still see war. We still see hunger, and genocide, and disease, and totalitarianism, and religious zealotry, and slavery, and all the rest. If we isolate particular cultural paradigms, like North America or the rest of the “developed” world, then we can start claiming that as a whole, human rights and quality of life have been steadily improving over the past 75 years or whatever. But how much of that narrative has been dependent on an economic supremacy built on the exploitation of nations where the aforementioned atrocities flourish? How much of our “progress” is built at the cost of the hunger, fear, murder, oppression and slavery emerging in those place that bear the weight of our development…that make our sneakers?

One of the problems with faith in the narrative of progress is that it allows us to believe that so long as we’re part of the “progressive” movement that we’re therefore a force of good. We’re on the right team. But what are we progressing towards, anyway?

Lately I’ve been noticing so many disturbing issues within activist and social justice communities. Things that go beyond the initial issues I observed, like a disturbing tendency within feminism towards transphobia, or gender-policing within the trans community, or whatever was, for me, an obvious internal problem. I’ve been noticing more and more a habit amongst social justice activists of prioritizing the needs of the most privileged at the expense of everyone else, repeated failures to properly address intersectionality, strict and partisan adherence to certain theoretical principles to such an extent that actual human consequence is considered completely secondary if not irrelevant, constant internalization of stigmas, constant selfishness, constant recreation of heirarchies and stratification, constant lack of questioning the consequences of what we’re doing. Constant lack of hesitation, humility and doubt. Constant failure to mind who we might be hurting.

And the deeper I find myself following these concerns, the more I worry that maybe dangerous, harmful attitudes and beliefs within the “progressive” and activist communities may be more dangerous than the failures and problematic attitudes of the mainstream and the right wing that we’re supposedly fighting against.

The thing is, yes, a sheltered, privileged mainstreamer in a position of power and entitlement and unmet responsibility, or a right wing bigot with an opportunity to take out his hatred and fear, are a lot more likely to make certain decisions, or take certain actions, in the here and now that are going to hurt someone who is vulnerable. Definitely. But us, the progressives and activists? We’re the ones who are shaping the ideologies of the future. What will someday become the “traditional” values that the mainstreamers fail to question, and the conservatives fight to uphold. We’re the ones building what will someday become our dominant cultural paradigm.

What happens if we fail to get that right?

What kind of ideology are we building? What kind of values are we promoting? What are we, as said, progressing towards? I don’t align myself with activist movements simply for the sake of change. I do it because I see people getting hurt and neglected, and I don’t want that to be the case anymore. In so far as we go on reproducing all the stratifications, the power-dynamics, the structures and means to marginalize, exclude, oppress, subjugate… in so far as the legacy we leave behind ends up being able to be used to hurt people, I don’t understand why I would want to lend it my support.

I don’t want to be a part of a movement that isn’t moving where I’d like us to go. I don’t want to be part of a movement that demands future activists to go through all this exhausting, painful, heartbreaking work just to undo all of our mistakes because we couldn’t make the effort to get things right back when these ideas were young and malleable. I want to be a part of a movement that’s ideas are conversational, self-questioning, critical, careful, compassionate, adaptable, that doesn’t prioritize adherence to the theory above the human beings we affect. I want to be a part of a movement that contains it’s own questions, it’s own counter-movements, it’s own corrections. I want to be a movement that will be able to address its own mistakes so that we don’t force others into the position of dealing with them. I want to be a part of a movement that knows how to apply skepticism and critical inquiry to itself.

So I want to be aggressive with the dangerous ideas I see amongst activists now. I want to be aggressive with them so that somebody else doesn’t have to be someday down the road. These are our issues, and our mistakes… more so, mistakes we have the opportunity to prevent ourselves from making.

It’s no coincidence that science itself is a system based on similar principles of questioning oneself, having self-correction and acknowledgment of mistakes built into the process, and the values, themselves.

The anti-scientific attitudes that are promoted amongst “well-meaning” members of the progressive left (I am so sick, by the way, of feeling the need to make “well-meaning” disclaimers all the time… can we all just admit that, yeah, we’re pretty much ALL well-meaning, and that we shouldn’t need to endlessly acknowledge that to one another when engaging critically?) are dangerous. They are a mistake. They will hurt people.

This has been a theme that has run through a great deal of what I’ve written on this blog, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. I’ve talked about how people selling “natural transition”, phytoestrogens and “magic” rings have preyed on trans people. I’ve talked about the dangers of what happens when we’re excluded from the medical establishment. I’ve talked about the consequences of scientists allowing their own biases to influence medicine. I’ve talked about feminist theory that ignores evidence and begins behaving as though the theory is what matters, not the reality it claims to speak to. I’ve talked about how appeals to faith to promote tolerance risk validating the foundational beliefs of the intolerant. I’ve talked about a lot of things.

These things do matter. These consequences matter. These consequences are written in a reality. A verifiable reality.

So when I see the science that can help prevent these harms criticized… when I see activists promoting the idea that science is a very narrow “Western” concept of how knowledge operates, and in promoting it, we’re acting like only “Western” ideas and values have merit…well…

No. Science is not “Western”, and the idea that it is is a far more colonial, imperialistic attitude than any of the principles that science, as a process, is based upon. I’m reminded of “Ancient Alien” conspiracy theories, the notion that Egyptian, Mayan and Aztec pyramids must have been crafted by extraterrestial visitors because “primitive” cultures couldn’t possibly have created them with their own technology. Similar doubts, it should be said, are not routinely expressed in regards to the Parthenon, the Colossus of Rhodes or the Roman Colloseum. Instead, it is only people who aren’t white, aren’t “western”, who are seen as incapable of these technological achievements.

But, of course, aliens didn’t build the pyramids. They were built by human beings. Human beings who came up with some brilliant engineering solutions. Human beings who weren’t “Western”.

How about the mathematical achievements of the Moors and Arabs and Persians? How about the printing press and pyrotechnics and paper of China? The numerous technological and medical advancements achieved by Indian and Japanese scientists throughout the 20th century?

Truthfully, there is not a single cultural paradigm on Earth that has been bereft of scientific and technological achievement.

To say that science is “Western” is intensely condescending, dismissive and Euro-centric. It takes the same old colonial narrative of the “advanced”, civilized peoples of Europe, and the savage mystical primitives of Everywhere-Else, and repackages it in such a way as to be enjoyed within the halls of contemporary academia without any post-imperial guilt. Adding “but science isn’t good, like all the awesome magic and ‘other ways of knowing’ in other cultures!” to make you feel better about your patronizing, not-so-vaguely racist attitude does not make it any less colonial in nature.

And what of “Western” culture’s propensity for mysticism, religious zealotry, woo, empty spirituality? What of the nearly half of the population of the United States who reject the theory of evolution? What of our proliferation of horoscopes, New Age bookstores, fortune tellers, Reiki, reflexology, homeopathy, etc? You can’t just cherry pick the scientific achievements of a select few “Western” countries (often a consequence more of our economic supremacy, built, as mentioned, on the economic subjugation of other nations, than any distinct cultural leaning towards scientific understanding) and ignore our entirely human, entirely universal, propensity for magical-thinking.

Granted, all those New Age bookstores will try to argue that they, despite their cultural location, origin, target demographic and so forth, they aren’t “Western” in their cultural nature. But…well… there is the slight matter of their location, origin, target demographic and so forth. Regardless of what bits and pieces they pick from our imperial reach to cobble together a vaguely exoticized, Orientalist Otherness, they are very, very much a product of our particular cultural paradigm. Much like how the post-structuralism upon which such critiques of “Western” science are based is itself a product of a particular “Western” cultural paradigm… a mid-20th century France, attempting to come to terms with its loss of status as an Imperial power. The Algerian revolution comes to mind.

“Good for them, those mystic Orientals, rejecting all our oh-so uniquely European science and technology!”

And the French academics remained uniquely blessed to articulate the grandeur and oh-so OTHERness of those “other ways of knowing”.

It’s telling to consider the history of French colonial philosophy in contrast to the imperial doctrines of other nations. The French had a uniquely patronizing goal, in which they didn’t generally see Africans and Asians as inherently inferior to whites, but that they simply had to be taught the wonders of French civilization, Christianity, language and democracy. They saw themselves as helping by pulling the poor primitives up out of darkness. It wasn’t inferior to be black, as long as you were French.

The views of surrealist primitivists and post-structuralists in France didn’t change this colonial narrative. What it did was simply swap out which side was positioned as the “good guys” and which was positioned as the “bad guys”. But it still saw things like “civilization” (and by extension science, technology, maths, reason, etc.) as a uniquely European, “Western” quality in contrast to the “primitive” mysticism and intuitive “natural” ways of the magic savage Others.

Still, though, the conceptual ghettoes were enforced. It doesn’t matter if we say “primitive” is a good thing or not, it doesn’t matter if we say science is harmful, when we position Other Cultures™ as mystical and magical and ourselves, the West™, as the proprietors of science and reason, we are still devaluing the “Other”, conceptually limiting their potential, describing them as incapable of reaching our achievements, defining who they are within our terms and mentalities, prescribing their destiny, and absolving us of any accountability relative to the luxuries we enjoy at the expense of others. It lets us believe that it isn’t OUR economic agendas that have driven certain “third world” nations into poverty and “dark age” quality of life, it’s simply their “culture”, their “ways of knowing”, who they are. And it’s not OUR exploitation of others that has led us into our technological and scientific achievements, it’s just because us of The West™ place all our “faith” in science rather than the good, natural, intuitive, traditional ways.

And still the academics remain, selling the otherness of the “other ways of knowing”. But do other cultures really need to be so other? Do we really need to set them as so alien from us in how they think and conceptualize the world just to feel okay about the disparities in our relative “development”? Do we need to imagine they have some illusory “supernatural”, mystic power that somehow makes up for all the material power that our actions have denied them? And in claiming ownership of science, tangible knowledge, and saying that their knowledge is only to be intangible and unreal, well… what might that be suggesting? What power dynamic might we be enforcing? What roles might we be policing?

Like men who try to justify their misogynistic view that women are “less rational” than men by praising our “women’s intuition” and “mystic connection to the Earth”. Or racists saying they’re not racist because they like how “soulful” black people are, how they “make better athletes” or are “great entertainers” and “have big dicks” and are “good dancers”.

Is it so hard to just view value in other cultural paradigms, other races, other genders, other identities, as tangible human value? The same kind of value and potential and worth and ability and knowledge we all have, or are capable of? Why do we need to feel this compulsive need to other and categorize, to the extent that even our reaction to having to face its negative consequences is to simply restructure that categorization and othering as “praise”?

It also reminds me of another idea I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and will probably write more extensively about in the future. A way of thinking that seems popular amongst the stoners and suburban occultists and new agers and people who read too much beat poetry and college kids who like to slum it in “bad” neighbourhoods and British comic book writers who got big in the late eighties. A way of mythologizing the marginalized and outsiders of our own culture, seeing homeless people, trans people, addicts, the mentally ill, sex workers and so on as being somehow divine, angelic, supernatural, otherworldly.

There are a lot of creepy implications behind that mentality, despite its superficially positive attitude. For one thing, it’s not humanizing. It’s dehumanizing by positioning such people as otherworldly and therefore inhuman.

There are a lot of creepy ways that it sanctifies the straight, cis, white, middle-class perspective (there are many reasons I distrust New Age and its adherents, but the way that it positions normativities as the properties or “energies” of the universe itself is a really big one). As an example, consider the “divine hermaphrodite” concept. A lot of how that idea functions is by buying into gender-binaries so completely, so wholeheartedly, that you see them as fundamental, cosmological law of the universe. Therefore, anything that doesn’t fit into that very, very, very human, very cisgender, perspective is seen as “supernatural” because the cisgender perspective has been positioned as the actual natural order, rather than just how most human beings happen to look at a particular aspect of human biology.

But what I think applies most here is the underlying suggestion of what is demanded of marginalized people in order to be seen as having worth. It’s true that a lot of these experiences can grant a lot of insights most people don’t get, and can leave a person a lot wiser and stronger… but those are human experiences and insights. And it’s true that all of these lives, no matter how neglected, ignored or marginalized, have rich stories behind them. But those are human stories. And it’s true that every single life, no matter how neglected, ignored or marginalized, has beauty and worth and value, and deserves compassion and understanding. But those are human lives.

They aren’t angels. And suggesting that it is some kind of magical, mystic, divinity that grants worth to the lives of those who live in society’s margins… do we really need to be more than human to have value? To deserve that compassion and understanding? Do we really need to be prophets, angels, divine, supernatural, mythological in order to have the worth of our lives recognized?

Isn’t being human enough?

And don’t other cultures deserve respect too, without having to be seen as mystics and noble savages, possessed of magical non-scientific “ways of knowing”? Isn’t their being human enough? Isn’t it enough that they know things the way everyone knows things? That they, like us, are capable of science, and like us, capable of human flaws and biases, and like us, capable of culture?

Do we need to patronizingly act like science just “isn’t their thing” to understand how our global cultural dynamics came into being? Do we need to ignore our own superstitions and myths and biases? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot more honest to admit that there’s nothing more inherently “scientific” about our “Western” culture, and that our access to technological and scientific luxuries relative to their comparable scarcity in other parts of the world is an economic thing? A privilege thing? A legacy of conquest?

To take Haiti as an example… how patronizing would it be to say that their relative poverty and lack of scientific, technological and economic “progress” (there’s that suspicious word again) is simply a result of their “different culture”, “different way of knowing”? Such as their strong spiritual tradition. I think voudoun is a beautiful cultural tradition, I really, honestly, do. To such an extent that when I remind myself that instances where the loa come down to “ride” human vessels, the “possessions”, are simply acts of intense, ritual theatre I feel a bit heartbroken, like I’ve just admitted to my childhood self that there’s no Santa Claus. But it is ritual, and it’s no different than our own rituals. And by no means does its presence, like the presence of ritual in our own cultural context, preclude the possibility of science, reason and rationality amongst Haitian people. They are perfectly and totally capable of it.

When looking at the poverty of Haiti, and the proliferation of myth, ritual and superstition, it’s worth reminding ourselves that those things often go hand in hand with poverty, desperation and vulnerability in our cultural background, our “Western” paradigm, as well. It is always when people most need to believe in something, when they’re most desperate for answers, comforts and control, that they become less skeptical. This is true in all cultures, amongst all human beings, everywhere. An individual isn’t simply “more gullible” or “more rational” than another. We simply can find ourselves in situations where we’re vulnerable and in need, or situations where we’re strong. I wished on countless stars, and prayed countless nights, that my body would be changed to female. I was the same person then that I am now, of the same cultural background. I was just scared, and vulnerable, and desperate, and needed to believe it was possible.

If you threw a bunch of Americans into “third world” conditions of poverty and hunger, their use of spiritual traditions for comfort would be just as strong. In fact, this is already the case in many parts of the United States, “Western” as it may be.

Haiti’s poverty, and much that defines its culture,  is not a consequence of their being possessed of some alien form of rationality and “knowing”. It is not because they’re fundamentally different from us in their conception of knowledge, rationality, evidence or the spiritual. It is largely because after their revolution, the dominant colonial powers refused to establish fair trading relationships with them. A fledgling nation was immediately left in economic isolation, never given a chance to grow. Haiti’s contemporary poverty, and everything that goes with it, is not a product of any exotic Otherness. It is a legacy of the ruthlessness that gave birth to the legacy of “progress” we now enjoy.

There is nothing to suggest that had things gone differently, Haiti could not have been part of the “West” that is treated so scornfully by the anti-science mentality I’m addressing. There is nothing to suggest that their spiritual cultural traditions would (or do) preclude participation in the sciences.

The presence of superstition, myth and ritual in our own culture, after all, does not inhibit our capacity to advance and participate in “Western” science. Remember what I said about Santa Claus? Well, imagine we were the disadvantaged Other Culture whose “ways of knowing” were being fawned over by the “progressive” academics of a comparably “advanced” culture. Larry Brathwaite from accounting dons his Santa Claus costume, and we all play along. During that Christmas party, Larry is Santa Claus. Those ethnographers and academics from elsewhere could easily draw the conclusion that we, all of us in the Mystic Occident, really believe that we can become possessed by the demi-god Santa Claus, which is an intrinsic element of our mysterious, magical, intuitive nature.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I hope I’m making sense, but am terribly worried I’m not. The differences between the “West” and other cultures aren’t so fundamental as to speak to how we think, how we feel, how we know, how we process knowledge. We’re all human beings, with the same squishy human brains. We’re prone to all the same distortions and biases and things, and we all believe in irrational things like religion, myth, ritual, superstition and magic when we want or need to, and we all are capable of overcoming those biases and distortions and irrational things when we need to be careful and objective in discerning truth from our perceptions.

One might say that nonetheless to apply the concept of “science” to those processes, carefully navigating our cognitive distortions and biases, when they aren’t occurring in the formalized “Western” construct of science-as-we-presently-define-it is still applying a “Western” concept onto something that may not be able to be properly understood in precisely those terms. I disagree. Science is science whether it’s formalized or not, and discussing almost anything in English will result in such applications of our culture’s terms and concepts onto things that don’t necessarily fit completely tidily into them. So what? Language doesn’t need to be a perfect tool to be a meaningful tool. It’s equally an application of “Western” terms and concepts to deem another culture as “intuitive”, or “mystical”, or “spiritual”.

And you know what?

The concept of “The West” is a western cultural construct!

West of what?!

And really, let’s get real: Even if it were true that science as we understand it is simply a “Western” construct being inexactly applied to a more universal kind of thought, does that say anything about science being wrong? Dangerous? Harmful? Does it’s relative “Westerness” have anything whatsoever to do with the applicability of science, or it’s beneficial nature relative to human bias?

By contrast, I can point to a lot that is harmful about turning one’s back on it. To say that one doesn’t care about science, or doesn’t care about objective truth, is the tiniest hair’s breadth away from saying that you don’t care whether or not you’re wrong. And from there, it is more or less inevitable that you stop caring about consequences. Stop caring about who you hurt.

That’s why I see no place for anti-science in any kind of “progressive” movement. An activist movement, an effort to make our culture move forward, that doesn’t know how to question itself, that doesn’t practice skepticism, that doesn’t know how to minimize its biases, that can’t be bothered to check its subject position and cognitive distortions, to check its privilege and blind-spots and check for gaps in knowledge or limitations in perspective, that doesn’t care about the objective truth it makes an effort to speak to and change, that will happily discard evidence that contradicts the currently fashionable theory… that’s a movement that will become an ideology, adhered to by faith, a party-line. An ideology that will hurt people. And when those people come to let you know who you’ve hurt, how you’re wrong, you won’t hear them, because you’ve long since stopped worrying about those truths that don’t fit into “your truth”.

An activism that doesn’t understand the value of skepticism and evidence will eventually become a destructive force. This is why I feel my aggressive opposition is demanded. I don’t want to be part of a movement that just erects new structures that operate just like the old ones did. That isn’t able to admit and seek to minimize bias, recognize mistakes, acknowledge its capacity for error, hesitate, practice intellectual humility, ask new questions, be open to new information and learn.

All of those things, those things that social justice activism needs to be able to grow and keep from becoming another dodgy old harmful ideology, are exactly what science is.

Science is by definition non-cultural. It is not a part of a struggle between different cultural worldviews. In so far as a cultural worldview falls into a scientist’s interpretation of her data, she’s screwing up. She’s making the kind of human error science is structured to minimize as much as possible.

Science is not a “way of knowing”. It is a process. A process designed to minimize all of the different little biases, cognitive distortions, logical fallacies and errors of perception that define a cultural perspective, or subjective vantage point, or “way of knowing”. It’s streamlining a bunch of different principles that have been practiced by all human beings in all cultures for millenia to help us tell what’s really going on from what simply seems to be going on, to tell what is probably true from what we want to be true, to tell the important variables from the coincidences, to tell the actual causal relationships from things that just happen to come after other things.

And it wants to be wrong. It wants to make sure it can be shown to be wrong. It questions itself, it’s open to criticism, it values self-questioning, skepticism… the things I fear our progressive movements don’t value nearly enough. It’s wrong over and over and over again, and it KNOWS it will be wrong again. It acknowledges its margin of error.

What, of the many “other ways of knowing”, ever explicitly remind you “but I might be wrong about this?” What priest presents the competing hypotheses? What psychic informs you of the probability that their prediction is incorrect?

Science is not claiming a “one true path” of truth. It’s the ONLY process out there that explicitly acknowledges the multiplicity of paths, and makes a deliberate effort to carefully pick the best one. It is all the other systems that simply assert their validity, and ask you not to question it.

Science is not a faith. Science and faith are antithetical. Science welcomes and encourages your doubt. It doesn’t ask for your faith. It just asks you to look for yourself.

Science does not know everything. Science never claimed to. Science is not the one going around waving books of ancient poetry around claiming THEY have the answers to the deepest questions. Science is the one still asking questions, still working things out, actually having the courage to admit it doesn’t know… and to keep on trying anyway, with that beautiful, stubborn curiosity that has meant so so much for us, as a species.

A Shakespeare misquote that is often offered in these conversations, usually to dismiss science, is the old “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy” bit.

Exactly.

There are far, far, far, far, far more things in this wonderful, magnificent, impossibly vast universe than can possibly ever be dreamed up in limited, human, man-made philosophies. Religion or spiritual or new age or poetry or fiction or art or whatever… they will never hold a candle to the immense contents of the incomprehensibly huge universe spiraling all around us, out into the infinite. Nothing we could ever dream up could possibly come close.

Which is why there is more beauty and wonder and magic in science’s capacity to say “I don’t know… let’s try to find out!” than there can ever be in the “knowledge” of human myth and superstition.

It’s true that there are things science can’t speak very well to. It’s true that ultimately there are some things in our experience that are inherently fuzzy and subjective, and sometimes we need to determine by way of our values and principles. But that means NOTHING in terms of criticizing the validity of science as a process for speaking adequately of the nature of the phenomenological world, and it means NOTHING in terms of mysticism or spirituality or subjective “ways of knowing” being able to make truth claims.

We all make truth claims. Even the assertion that there IS such a thing as a “Western” culture for science to be tied to is a truth claim.

The person with whom I was arguing about this really did claim a lack of interest in objective truth. Bullshit. We are all of us, constantly, making assertions that are not only truth claims, but truth claims about the nature of the world and universe we live in, or dependent on assumptions about it.

I would have loved to ask this person how little he cares about objective truth, and science’s capacity to help us understand it, when it comes time for his testosterone shot. Or to get on an airplane.

Or how about how science enabled the technological advances that allowed him to promote these anti-science views in the first place, and allowed me to respond?

It’s this that reminds me of the thing that got me most angry about his dismissal of science’s validity. His open, proud contempt for it… why that inspired in me contempt that his views would go unchallenged…

The real reason I decided to take out last week’s anger and frustration on his stupid views instead of the wall.

As he wrote that, and as we argued, someone I love very very much lay in a hospital bed not far away. She was hooked up to a machine that was breathing for her. In those moments, it was science that was keeping her alive.

And it was science that allowed us to communicate with one another, over the internet. To tell each other how much we meant to one another. How much we cared. How fucking scared we were, and how badly I wanted to be with her to hold her hand.

That’s what science offers us.

So don’t tell me science means nothing to the human heart. And don’t tell me you don’t care.