Disconnecting Science From Belief

David Trammel's picture

Addressing racism, particularly in America is not something that I at least, think about when I think about dealing with the coming Long Decent of society collapse we do so here at Green Wizardry. That could well be that as a 60 year old white male, middle to lower economic class, I haven't had to deal with the effects of racism. If a police car pulls me over on a trip, I'm not thinking that police officer might kill me. And yet, racial tensions are going to be a big factor in the future collapse. The economic inequalities are going to get even worse, especially for people of color. Many people, particularly whites, believe that race and racism is no longer a factor in modern society. Scientific studies say different.

In some ways, addressing racism mirrors the argument about whether humans are causing climate change. There too, we have a large body of scientific research which says, "yes, we are causing it", and on the other side, many people believing differently. President Trump summed it up in this quote, "“I don’t believe it. No. No. I don’t believe it.”

The problem seems to be that scientific theory and fact are being judged by personal belief. Belief, like religious faith, is often something that considered true, even when observable facts disagree.

Ibram X Kendi wrote this article on "The Atlantic", which discusses these issue very well,

"What the Believers Are Denying"

The disbelievers do not believe that either climate change or racism is real. Or they do not believe they are caused by emissions of greenhouse gases or racist policies. Or they do not believe that regulating them would be better for society. All this disbelief rests on the same foundation: the transformation of science into belief. It is a foundation built from the economic, political, and ideological blocks that stand the most to lose from the aggressive reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions and racial inequities. These defensive voices engage in the same oratorical process, attack the credibility of scientists, disregarding their consensus and reducing their findings to personal beliefs.

The effect: Science becomes belief. Belief becomes science. Everything becomes nothing. Nothing becomes everything. All can believe and disbelieve all. We all can know everything and know nothing. Everyone lives as an expert on every subject. No experts live on any subject. Years of intense and specialized training and research and reflection are abandoned, like poor Latino immigrants, like the poor body of our planet.

Instead of trained racial researchers, individuals decide whether they are racist, whether their ideas are racist, whether their policies are racist, whether their institutions are racist. Instead of trained climate researchers, individuals decide whether that worst-ever natural disaster, whether that record temperature, whether that rising sea level is caused by climate change. The great confrontations of our time are not between scientists, but between individual beliefs and scientific knowledge.


One of the key skills for present day and future Green Wizards will be the ability to judge an issue critically and make hard choices on facts, not belief. Being able to recognize when the opposing voices are doing so for the wrong reasons, and knowing how to counter those arguments will be important.

More comments after I let Kendi's article settle into my mind and have been able to digest it more.

David Trammel's picture


"While most scientists say it’s too late to completely prevent or reverse climate change, they also say we can mitigate the damage and avoid the worst of it.

I also advocate getting out and enjoying the beauty of our natural world so that we’re acting from a place of love not fear. This is especially important for parents - let's teach our children to fall in love with the world before we depress them about how broken it is.

Let's quit branding people as hypocrites if they call for action on climate change but continue to eat meat or fly on aeroplanes or own a mobile phone. It can be more comfortable to undermine the messenger rather than hear the message, but expecting humans to be perfect is doomed to failure. Acting on climate change is not all or nothing - there’s a vast difference between 1.5C or 4C warming and we need to collectively shift the dial.

Arguing with people about whether climate change is real is a dangerous distraction. We just need to get on with doing something about it."

"The magical thinking of guys who love logic"

A friend just shared this on FB. LOL! She has a doctorate in epistemology, and she's not afraid to use it. She's a Druid and a SFF writer, and she probably has more practical knowledge in green wizardly stuff than I'll ever have.

"Ian Danskin, who makes videos under the moniker Innuendo Studios, has made a name for himself on the internet for his YouTube series on the techniques and beliefs of the alt-right. His most recent video, 'The Card Says Moops,' is worth watching in full, but there was one particular line in it that struck me. Danskin points out that, even when their beliefs skew towards the bizarre and conspiratorial, people on the online right often identify as 'rationalists.'

"This will be unsurprising to those who often engage with the wider online right, whether it is with someone who identifies as alt-right, libertarian, conservative, as a fan of the 'Intellectual Dark Web,' or even 'moderate' or 'centrist' (turns out a lot of people online are self-identifying as moderate while also believing in conspiracies about 'white genocide). Although their beliefs may not be identical, there are common, distinct patterns in the way they speak (or type) that one can’t help but notice.

"Specifically, these guys — and they are usually guys — love using terms like 'logic.' They will tell you, over and over, how they love to use logic, and how the people they follow online also use logic. They are also massive fans of declaring that they have facts, that their analysis is unbiased, that they only use 'reason' and 'logic' and not 'emotions' to make decisions. The hosts of the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House even titled their book The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts and Reason as a wink and nod to this tendency."