Sunday, April 5, 2009

Establishment

I've always been of the opinion that the establishment of religion is worse for religion than it is for the state. Sure, it violates people civil rights to publicly express their beliefs, and that sucks. But much more insidiously, it subjects the world of the soul (religion) to the forces of corruption that result inevitably from a government-created monopoly. Imagine if the government established one type of restaurant as the "state restaurant." Not only would people losed the opportunity to explore other types of food (certainly a loss) but the chosen restaurant would itself deteriorate, because it would not be required to adapt, grow, learn new things, and approve itself. It would not need to try -- it would be guaranteed its position whether or not it tried. So it would decay.

That's what happened to religion in Europe. Most of those decaying states still have official state religions. But those religions have done nothing but decay since they were established. And the rates of belief in those decayed religions is remarkably low -- why? because there's nothing worth believing in those churches.

But recently, I've been realizing that the same dynamic applies to philosophical and scientific schools of thought. There are a large number of out of date, demonstrably incorrect notions that still hold sway in universities. Universal common descent in biology. Plate techtonics in geology. Keynesian Economics. Behavioralist psychology. It doesn't take much work to debunk these silly ideas. Yet they remain in power.

Why?

Well, let's follow the money. This article raises the interesting point that virology departments receive enormous amounts of money to research HIV as a virus. But what if (as the article intimates) AIDS is not caused by a virus, but by some other agent? What would happen to the virology department's money? They'd go broke.

The same principle would apply to plate techtonics. If the Earth is expanding, as is strongly supported by the evidence, all current geology researchers -- who have committed themselves to plate techtonics -- would be out of luck.

The same principle would apply to evolutionary biology. Add an intelligent design research department to a biology department, and the evolutionary biologists lose their livelihood.

On and on and on. The people preaching "scientific consensus" are not unbiased observers -- on the contrary, their livelihood depends on the widespread acceptance of THEIR particular academic niche. If their niche is discredited, they go broke.

Suddenly, the existence of so many "pseudosciences" that make so much more sense than the nonsense they spoonfeed us at school comes into full focus. The "scientific community" is merely a state-funded intellectual monopoly, with the same dynamics as a state church -- intellectual stagnation and a desperate effort to squelch heresies that (while truer than the institutionalized beliefs) threaten the livelihood of the establishment just as much as protestantism threatened the power of the Pope.

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