It took a while to come up with a good name, but dogmatic theorists seem to be a reasonable name for a certain fraction of the population who place dogmatic faith in scientific theories.
Dogmatic theorism is a term that I coined, at least in its usage here. It is similar in some ways to scientism, but it is its own beast. Scientism can be thought of as “the belief that all valid knowledge is science.” (Hutchingson 2011) Dogmatic theorism is a misunderstanding of theories and facts which produces the idea that theories can become facts. This is problematic because theories are just sets of explanations which are supported by past observations. They can never be proven true. The very idea of such a thing flies in the face of scientific investigation, yet the following thought process is not all that uncommon.
Theories, once proven, become facts until and unless new information is developed and proven. They’re not just ‘explanations’.
There are many issues with the above statement. First, theories are never proven true, and second, how can something that becomes a fact shown to be false later on? This is a major failure of logic and a great misunderstanding of the scientific process.
Notice in this case, not only is there a misconception regarding theories, but a complete logical contradiction: something once proven can then later disproved. Scientists, in their attempt to refute creationists and climate science deniers simply add fuel to the fire. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a perfect example. While I have a lot of respect for him, he has inadvertently hurt science through his futile attacks on these groups. The following is a major blow to the understanding of scientific exploration.
“Once science has been established, once a scientific truth emerges from a consensus of experiments and observations, it is the way of the world,” Tyson told Colbert. “What I’m saying is, when different experiments give you the same result, it is no longer subject to your opinion. That’s the good thing about science: It’s true whether or not you believe in it. That’s why it works.” (Salon)
There are two main issues with this quote. The first is this concept of scientific “truth”. What is scientific truth? We see time and time again that theories for which there is a consensus are later overturned. Therefore they cannot be truth. They are only well supported at the time. The second issue is the venue of discussion. This quote was from the Colbert Report. In fact, this was from Tyson’s 10th appearance on the show. The Colbert Report is an entertainment show hosted by a comedian. Such consistent patronage by scientists gives comedians far more credibility than is warranted.
Tyson is not the only one who is portraying science as something set in stone. Bill Nye does this as well, although it is again most likely unintentional. Take one of Nye’s books as an example: “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.” This already establishes the idea that evolution is set in stone. Tyson even chimes in on this one in a review stating “…Bill empowers the reader to see the natural world as it is…” Of course, it is really only correct to say that it is what the world appears to be, given the information we have.
In his video “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children”, Nye used the term “provable science.” As I will discuss in the next section, there is no such thing as provable science. It is an oxymoron. Yet in order to not only reject creationism, but propose that children should not even be exposed to concepts like creationism, Nye throws that aside and is willing to violate the fundamental nature of scientific exploration.