On the Mises retort to NDT

Link: https://mises.org/blog/neil-ty-scientism-guy


"The scientific method is not universally appropriate. Consider an extreme case: if you measured a few right triangles and observed that the sides did not correspond to what the Pythagorean theorem says, would you toss the Pythagorean theorem, or would you reexamine your measurement method? Would you dismiss the logical geometric relation in favor of the scientific method?"

A proper scientist would, of course, reexamine the measurement method. If it was fine, and the tools were fine, and the measurements were accurate, then, of course, the Pythagorean theorem would be disproven. This is not a good argument against science or "scientism".

"The scientific method has another large limitation: conclusions derived solely by experimentation are always susceptible to falsification by just one aberrant observation. For this reason and others, even wide consensus among scientists should be met with at least some skepticism before the heavy hand of the government gets involved."

This is true, but it could easily be taken in the opposite direction: since only one aberrant observation can destroy a theory, the ones that haven't been destroyed and have been around for a while have a pretty high probability of being true.

DDT, the food pyramid, yes, the government has taken bad science and made it into official policy before. And we should guard against that. But I guarantee that we would have misstepped far more often if we threw out the scientific method altogether and based our policies on, say, the Bible.

And on marijuana? The whole reason that it's still schedule 1 is because the government has said that we're not allowed to study it. Don't put that failure on science; it's purely a political error. I find the conflation of the two to be willfully misleading.

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