One of the stranger aspects of some corners of the alt-right is the hostility to science. I don’t want to say it is a rejection of science, but something like an extreme skepticism about it. I was reminded of this reading Vox Day’s 16-point manifesto the other day. The part that jumped out to me is this one:
The Alt Right is scientodific. It presumptively accepts the current conclusions of the scientific method (scientody), while understanding a) these conclusions are liable to future revision, b) that scientistry is susceptible to corruption, and c) that the so-called scientific consensus is not based on scientody, but democracy, and is therefore intrinsically unscientific.
Vox seems to be trying very hard to declare himself the Pope of the alt-right so perhaps he is just getting carried away with himself with these posts, but he has made a big deal about being an anti-evolutionists that regularly kits himself out in the Don Quixote suit and runs around tilting at imaginary concepts. Usually, people opposed to evolution are coming at it from the perspective of self-styled Christians¹. That’s not the case with Vox as you see in this post titled The Crisis in Science.
There is no crisis in science. The soft sciences like psychology and sociology are certainly in trouble, but people have known that for a very long time. It’s not just the bogus studies either. It is the hard sciences, particularly biology, that are collapsing soft sciences like psychology. Once you arrive at a biochemical explanation for mental illness, there’s no need for guys in turtlenecks, smoking pipes and asking about your mother. Genetics is rendering many of the soft sciences meaningless, by exploding blank slatism.
The replication crisis that is bedeviling the soft science is not a problem in chemistry, physics or even biology where speculation is more common. The reason there is a replication crisis is the empirically minded from the hard sciences grew tired of the bullshit coming from the sociology department, showing up in the news as real science. It is science policing itself by enforcing the rules of science on those who seek to appropriate science for their own ends. This is a normal part of the scientific process.
What’s puzzling about the anti-science elements on the alt-right is they are not really motivated by religion, like we see with most Progressives. Rejecting science because it violates your deeply held beliefs is not irrational. It may be wrong, but it is not irrational. The anti-science people in the alt-right seem to be responding to the identity politics of the Left, which often waves the flag of science to justify their crackpot ideas. Since it takes too long to refute the Progressive pseudo-science, some on the alt-right simply reject science, or at least large parts of it.
This is to some degree understandable, as the alt-right is mostly a reaction to the extremism of the social justice movement. The unhinged assault on normalcy is often dressed up in the language of science. A degenerate in a sundress, who wants to watch your daughter pee, is excused as transgender, as if such a thing exists. People with Ph.D’s step forward to tell us how biological sex is a social construct and that there are unlimited number of “non-binary identities.” It perfectly understandable that normal people will get a little skeptical of scientists.
The interesting part of this is that big part of the alt-right is rooted in the growing fields of genetics, evolutionary biology and the cognitive sciences. Guys like Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire have been intellectual heavy weights of the movement for two decades, largely due to popularizing research in the cognitive sciences that contradict the Progressive faith. More than a few evolution guys have been “Watsoned” for promoting ideas from evolutionary biology. Frankly, there would not be Vox Day if not for the science guys and their wild tales about evolution.
That’s the other interesting strangeness about the thing the press is now calling the alt-right. There’s a wide diversity of opinion within it and a wide diversity of opinion about what it is. Greg Cochran, I’m guessing, would laugh off the assertions of Vox Day, but guys like Richard Spencer would dismiss people like Razib Khan. Yet, there would be broad agreement among all of them when it comes to critiquing the prevailing orthodoxy. That suggests the anti-science stuff is just a way to make magic fit reality. Self-delusion is powerful stuff and not always a bad thing.
¹I’m sympathetic to creationist because they are harmless and their beliefs tend toward the sort of positive outcomes that make for a healthy Western society. You can be a great engineer and still believe Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. On the other hand, I have no tolerance for intelligent design people. They paganize the Christian concept of God, turning him into a fickle teenager, who alters the laws of nature for no reason. Intelligent design is not just anti-science, it is anti-Christian.