Modern Science Questioned for Good Reason

The article ``The Anti-Science Movement Feeds on Ignorance,'' March 2, tosses creationists, feminists, Nazis, and native American seers into the same anti-scientific pot. The author sees himself as a latter-day Galileo fighting contemporary superstitions. But his undifferentiated analysis of the debate is itself unscientific.

Our era is indeed witnessing a backlash to the scientific positivism of a generation ago, but the author misjudges its intent. True, this backlash is in some cases merely a mask for scientific illiteracy. But, generally, those who question the authority of science are genuinely concerned that human values may have been sacrificed for technological progress.

In the primitive cultures that the author so summarily dismisses, the epistemological process is infused with ethical sensitivities. ``Knowing'' is a moral event and a community experience. Modern science, on the other hand, is amoral. Advances in science don't necessarily effect ethical progress or strengthen the community; science more often than not seems to serve the interests of profit and power.

Many critics of science are simply people who want to know how our science can really be on the right track when our world is still so polluted and uncivilized. It is a question that has been asked not only by those distrustful of Western science, but by the likes of Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Feynman.

Modern science is inseparable from Western individualism, with all of its strengths and weaknesses. In both its theoretical and applied forms, science has tended to exacerbate our feelings of universal philosophical loneliness, while providing many of the technological instruments which so often leave us feeling less free.

Answering these deep-seated misgivings involves more than name-calling. It involves rededication to human concerns. It means stepping out of corporate and government laboratories and rejoining the community. Steven Krolak, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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