This error is about constantly mixing up is and ought.  If someone says it is in a certain way the person is supposed to mean people ought to do something too.  Someone disliking the imagined ought, denies that it is so.  The trouble is the person who says is, does not in fact mean ought.  This distinction is called Hume’s guillotine after David Hume who first pointed it out.

The connections are especially far-fetched for the most natural sciences.  The ones I mean are astronomy, chemistry, geology, physics and their intermediates.  Ideas of standpoints are not based on more than shallow resemblance between words.  That words can have different meanings does not occur to those believing this.  Alternatively, this is about guilt by association.  The originator’s real or imaginary values are used to demonise an idea.  In reality those values are not in any way part of the idea.  Most of the idea’s current adherents don’t hold those values at all.  Such values might have fitted in the originator’s social context.  However, his or her social context no longer looks like that.

Meteorology is a somewhat special case.  A great majority of scientists in the area agree on global warming.  That is to say, humanity affecting the Earth’s average temperature which in turn affects us.  This does not mean all of those would want total ban on things people enjoy.  An intermediate is in fact possible between no change and total ban.  My own lifestyle is an attempt at such a compromise.

Biology and by extension medicine is subject to such faulty thinking too.  That we could do something does not mean we ought to do it.  The benefits have to be weighted against the drawbacks.  Oftentimes the drawbacks are so great people describing a possibility are not at all promoting it.  In addition, there are misconceptions on what scientists say is possible.  For example old ideas of eugenics are now considered inefficient.

Above all behavioural science is subject to such erroneous thinking.  Descriptions of human behaviour are no recommendations.  Usually behaviours are described by individuals which do not show it themselves.  Why would they promote it?  Humans show loads of different customs.  Apart from outright bad habits some habits work for some but not other individuals.  This difference some does not seem to consider.

Archaeology and history are subjects which consensus some dislike.  Descriptions of the past are treated as if they were cautionary.  Rather it is the opposite.  Based on several ethical systems things were often worse before.  However, one does not have to take up stand for or against something.  What has happened has happened and it still has consequences.  Denying parts of the past only makes these consequences mysterious.  From a scientific point of view one does not want mysteries were truth can be approached.  A truth one can’t take for granted without systematically examining the issue.


Uploaded on the 23rd of January 2024.