Science’s First Mistake?

In this talk Professor Angell will give an overview of his latest book Science’s First Mistake: Delusions in pursuit of Theory, written jointly with his colleague Dr. Dionysios Demetis. He will point out the conceit of modernism that is grounded in the arrogance of scientific certainty. It is only human vanity that deludes us into believing that with scientific method, our intelligence would show us the truth about things: that we could be indisputable masters of all we survey.

Total control of events through the application of scientific method is a myth. There can be no permanent solutions to the ineffable human condition, and there are no truths that will cover every eventuality. We are all at the mercy of the Fates, and while science may masquerade as a force for control, its tunnel vision conceals an underlying torrent of basic problems. Indeed, the hubris that comes with an unquestioned belief in the scientific method, particularly when it is targeted at social/political/commercial concerns, and especially when it involves technology, is an accident waiting to happen.

It’s time to nail the big lie of the last three centuries, and stop this obsession with tidy methodical solutions. The message of their book is that understanding through scientific theory, and applied via its methods, does not place humanity in control of its destiny, and it can in no way expose the real nature of reality. Indeed there is no such thing as ‘understanding’, only mere description through observation. Observation is itself a delusion steeped in paradox that emerges from the unavoidable distinction included in each observation: the distinction between observable and unobservable.

For human observation does not allow us access to a real world: observation is deceived by the linearity inferred in causality. We humans do not observe cause and effect in the world; instead a belief in causality is a necessary prerequisite of observation and cognition. Indeed, Angell claims that without the delusion of causality there would be no observation; observation and cognition are only possible because linearity is erroneously imposed on what is an always complex, non-linear world.

‘When one rows, it is not the rowing that moves the ship; rather rowing is simply a magical ceremony by which one compels a demon to move it’.

(Friedrich Nietzsche)