“A Good Scientist” by Liam Scheff

December 11, 2012 www.LiamScheff.com

I woke early this morning from troubled, over-heated sleep with a question burning in my head: “On what authority! What right do YOU have to ask these questions?!”

I had been in a web dialogue with a screaming worshiper of science who was cursing at me for asking questions about vaccines, GMOs and HIV tests: “On what authority do you…’ and ‘What are your credentials?’ followed by a string of violent, hateful put-downs. I woke with the question ricocheting in my skull: “On whose authority?”

I’ve considered the question before, of course, because I’ve had to ask, “What do I say when asked?” The answer is this: I claim no credential that ‘permits’ me to question today’s science. I can claim that I do arduous research – but, then, I don’t expect you to believe it. I only offer it to be read and considered – it’s not for you to ‘believe,’ it’s for you to research for yourself, or to argue, or to dig into to your own satisfaction. My only credential then, is that I am a broadly researching and cross-comparing human being; the same credential that I ask of my readers.

I suppose I could list publications and genealogy – but the deal with disciples of scientism is that they’ll hate you despite or because of your pedigree. That is, if I had several Ph.D.s, they’d hate me even more for challenging today’s fraudulent sciences from the inside – I would, in fact, have been prevented from researching these topics openly. And I realized that this is the difference between myself and most other people: I don’t believe in their vision of ‘science,’ because it is an illusion.

I grew up in a medical/scientific family, inside of the ivory tower of medicine (or behind its iron curtain), and I saw a generation of  doctors and researchers up close, quite personally, in their absurd behavior, irrational arguments, and ego-driven combat, up-ending each other with ‘data’ that they would turn around and argue were false in 6 months time. (This is the central axis of their worldview: “Facts change.” Just don’t tell the hoi poloi.) I saw them at their best, in a witty moment or having a group laugh; and in their troubled moments, drinking and relationship problems, senseless diets, compulsive behavior, and their startling inabilities to communicate emotionally, to build healthy families, and to nurture themselves or each other. And these WERE the medical authorities.

So, I’ve never been infected by that meme, or idea, or particular bit of worship – the worship of scientists and science.

“Facts change” and “People are extremely irrational and simultaneously rationalizing” were the two lessons I learned in childhood – from scientists, doctors, researchers and academicians.

I suppose if I hadn’t, I might have been more reluctant to peel away the rest of the veil – the lies they get away with telling on the nightly news and PBS specials…

I suppose I have to thank my family for something – for showing me who they were, for not being able to hide their (rather gaping) flaws. They dispelled for me, in my infancy, our greatest cultural myth: the importance and infallibility of ‘science’ and ‘scientists.’

Or, as I call it, the church of holding on to tenure, not upsetting your peers and losing favor, and always playing politics: biding your time until your superiors and mentors are DEAD before pointing out that their ideas are vacuous bullshit (by even lightly mentioning that the entire field “might” be a little off-course).

My credentials: I survived my childhood and adolescence in that maelstrom of confounded ‘geniuses.’ And I observed carefully what I witnessed.

They taught me that the difference between a good doctor, researcher and scientist and a bad one has to do with a quality of mind. I suppose I also learned that a polished professional exterior often hides a calamity of sins at home. A “good” doctor, then, must also be a good human being.

A good scientist is someone who, through his or her entire lifetime, is willing to continue to examine data and collect pieces of evidence, who reads broadly and across many disciplines and time-periods, who only comes to conclusions after long consideration; who always operates under the assumption that the world that actually exists bears little resemblance to what they were told in school. This is the only credential I seek for myself, and if this describes you, then I’d be willing to bet that you are a better scientist and observer of life than 99 percent of the inhabitants of academic institutions.

*****

Liam Scheff is author of “Official Stories” and co-author of “Summer of ’74″

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