Follow TV Tropes

Discussion Main / ScienceIsWrong

Go To

Feb 2nd 2012 at 9:34:06 PM •••

This trope is about works where science is wrong and not works where science is thought of as wrong; there is quite a few examples that are not examples. Most of these can be found in the Real Life section but it's not limited to there.

Although, given that reality is not fictional I guess that the Real Life examples should stay. But any examples from other media where science is not wrong but is thought of as wrong should be either deleted or moved to another trope.

Jan 23rd 2012 at 12:05:55 PM •••

These are the citations for the "explanations" that are continually removed, archived here for the same reasons as the Lies to Children discussion page:

In this trope, science is simply wrong: it lacks objectivity and does not describe anything "real". There are a number of general forms in which the error of science is considered:

Edited by Zenoseiya
Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:49:17 PM •••

Respectfully, I think that neither Existentialism and Post-Modernism fit here; both tend to say more about the "human condition" than about the state of the world around the observer.

In actuality, both are reactions against the truth-centered stance that led to the rise of fascism. Existentialism responds through the "existence precedes essence" declaration, which should be understood from a moral standpoint, stating that there is no inherent truth about what is morally correct or incorrect, and it is up to each individual person to decide what is correct and incorrect. In short, it's a statement that everyone is responsible for their own choices.

Post-Modernism, on the other hand, follows the same proposition about objective truth (which is different from observable facts) and generally discusses the idea of simulacra and hyper-reality, which have more to do with human behavior than science: how people have a habit of treating imitations as more important than the originals, and, moreover, how for certain things, the current imitations have nothing to do with the original.

Seriously, people...Did Not Do The Research. We need a You Fail Philosophy Forever page.

Edited by Czernobog Hide/Show Replies
Dec 24th 2010 at 8:57:21 AM •••

While this is indeed what's going on with most of the actual philosophers and texts involved in Postmodernism and Existentialism, the fact of the matter is that there are enough people who do Fail Philosophy Forever in real life and ape/abuse postmodernist theories and argumentations in order to argue that science is just dogma and that the world really is just a creation of the mind. When people say that postmodernism belongs here, they don't mean "proper" postmodernism, i.e. postmodernism as applied to human philosophy, values and behavior. They mean the people whose thinking goes "The external world cannot be proved -> science is dogma -> mind creates reality -> homeopathy works, aspirin doesn't", and who loudly and sometimes angrily stand by these opinions.

Personally, I've rarely met people who espouse and argue in this human-behavior-only postmodernism; mostly, it's people saying that medicine is an evil industrialist-capitalist dogma that can never help anybody, or that quantum physics proves that lightning is controlled by a lightning spirit, or that, gods forbid, science is obvious wrong because computers make us sedentary and destroy our social lives (seriously, my former roommate claimed this within 5 minutes of quoting Derrida).

That is to say, because of their experiences with other real human beings, many people treat this sort of "pop postmodernism" as more important or relevant than the original, "real" postmodernism, regardless of the fact that it has less to do with the original postmodernism than many would like. See what I did there?

Edited by
Nov 3rd 2012 at 12:27:12 PM •••

That doesn't excuse the fact that postmodernism is listed on this page as espousing that Science Is Wrong.

Subjectivity being what it is, postmodernism is widely interpreted to mean different things for different people/institutions/settings.

You can split postmodernism into groups of "pop postmodernism" and "philosophical/proper/real postmodernism" all you want, but postmodernism in and of itself is the underlying, and often unconscious, reasoning behind it.

In that sense, postmodernism does not say Science Is Wrong. It is documented as being a result of 'disillusionment' with science being the end-all-be-all (among other things). Science isn't wrong, and it's even pretty cool, but it doesn't define everything in life—there is indeed subjectivity in this world. That means control over life is impossible, so science has limits. There's a respect for science in that attitude, which is counter to this trope.

In short, throughout the 20th century the general public, including artists and scientists, all came to the above conclusion in some form or another, consciously due to observation or unconsciously due to the influence of pop artists and media going going in that direction, and as a result postmodernism cropped up in different forms in different settings (pop vs. philosophical postmodernism, for instance).

That means we can't just have "postmodernism" listed on this page, because that's not true on a fundamental (and the most important) level.

Edited by illegalcheese
Nov 8th 2010 at 5:04:03 PM •••

The genres are being contested, so I'm moving the examples and resulting discussions here for the moment.

Any time you feel like starting your edit with "BZZZ", just pretend that it's the sound of your Troper Shock Collar going off to discipline you for adding obvious Natter.

  • Romanticism
    • BZZZ! I'm sorry, please go back and review. The Romantic poets of the early 1800s saw science as their counterpart; they described the mysteries of nature and the human condition, while scientists revealed the beauty of the natural world. To quote Keats (THE Romantic, in many ways) "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken." This directly referenced the discovery of a certain moon of Saturn. These people may have disliked industrialization for damaging the world, but they were in love with the world, in all its aspects. Measuring the Marigolds averted hard, from the other side, thankyouverymuch.
  • Philosophical Idealism, and its Eastern analogue, the Consciousness-Only schools of Buddhism. These posit the phenomenal world as being something that takes place entirely within consciousness. Reality therefore has no intrinsic existence outside of our conscious experiences.
    • A famous Zen parable that describes this has two disciples arguing about a flag waving in the wind. The first disciple claims that the wind is blowing the flag, the second disciple argues that it is the flag which drives the wind. The master overhears this and corrects them both, saying "It is the mind that moves."
    • I don't see how this means that science is wrong, per se. Last I heard, science is just about making accurate, falsifiable predictions, and I don't see that Idealism threatens that. If we're only making accurate, falsifiable predictions about our own consciousness, what (scientific) difference does it really make?
      • Well said. Although science is based in Materialism (also called Monism and Physicalism) if Idealism is right, how would you know? Verified observations could still be made, but the nature of reality would be different. Of course, the folks who think change in consciousness would alter reality is where it gets tricky...
      • It depends on weather you follow a scientific realism view or Instrumentalism. In realism a theory is true if it explain reality, but in the other a theory is true if it makes accurate predictions.

I haven't read Good Omens recently enough to work out the specifics, but I know the sentiment was expressed at some point. Details and issues with the example should, again, be discussed here.

  • Which makes no sense, really. This Troper would think that scientists, when faced with the evidence, would alter their theories to better fit the evidence. Something called the 'Scientific Method' or some such nonsense. Seriously though, this Troper finds that example rather sketchy.
  • That's because that wasn't what the character was talking about. He was expressing pity for the scientists when they discover the tunnels that people came out of (as per Hopi mythology) in clear defiance of any kind of sense. This is a Gods Need Prayer Badly setting where All Myths Are True, remember. Science is kinda screwed. A type four, on the above chart. And remember this is a supernatural entity saying this, while at the same time technological Cargo Cult thinking is edging his ilk out. Could be Mr. Ibis is just a tad tetchy about the march of progress.

Jun 28th 2010 at 6:41:25 PM •••

I don't think this counts—"systematized" and "proven in laboratories" seem to speak against it being an example of this, by definition. Rather, between this and "narrativium", it seems more likely that The Principles Are Unspeakably Different But Science Is A Workable Method To Discover Them. (On the other hand, thinking about that "one in a million = nine times out of ten" sort of causes statistics to explode, but I guess the best way to think of it is that the bell curve itself is shaped differently.)

  • This has been systematized in Discworld: "A 1 in a million chance will happen nine times out of ten" has been proved in laboratories in the Discworld (thus becoming science). If three brothers vow to undertake a quest, and two die, it is physically impossible for the third to fail. Also known as the "Theory of Narrative Causality." Several characters of what would for our world be more sensible thinking sometimes insist that 'things don't work that way' when, for instance, people inherit things by means other than genetic. Although they sometimes try to seem like the only sane people for insisting on such an attitude, in Discworld reality they are ignoring the very real fact that things do work that way there.

Mar 5th 2010 at 10:15:46 PM •••

Wow, I'm surprised there isn't a Flame War here about science, truth, etc. I suppose that those who agree that Science Is Wrong almost never state it that way, but merely their opposition to some specific science, or the application of the scientific method to some specific phenomenon. The whole is just too successful to reject outright. I won't name any names so as to avoid said Flame War.

Type the word in the image. This goes away if you get known.
If you can't read this one, hit reload for the page.
The next one might be easier to see.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: