Monday, November 1, 2010

In defense of scepticism

My relationship with science, as opposed - and they are opposed - to scientia, is at best one of benign indifference; at worst active hostility. The project of knowledge on which the physical sciences have embarked, however noble they may feel it to be, is in my view not at all dissimilar from the voyage of Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Bounty in its post-Bligh era, except worse: the mutiny in question is not against a Captain but a Queen. Not Freddy Mercury, although that would be bad enough; I mean Theology. The physical sciences are indeed brilliant and beautiful in harness, yoked to goals above themselves. But when these are abandoned in the name of Progress, we arrive at the same result as that of the coachman who to speed his horses onward cut their traces: the situation is certainly a vast improvement from their perspective, but the passengers had rather hoped to arrive at Brighton before tea-time.

...which is why (he admitted in a characteristically roundabout manner) I don't believe that germ theory is all it's cracked up to be. It is also why I smoke, drink (both alcohol and coffee, occasionally united in that mystical conjunction surnamed "Irish"), and eat Velveeta, Pop-Tarts, processed sugars, jelly beans, Oreo cookies, and just about anything else I may happen to find within my grubby little fist. I don't think that poly-, neo-, un-, di-, or meta-saturated fats cause cancer, heart disease, obesity, or spontaneous renditions of Nessun Dorma (although, evidentially speaking, the late Sr. Pavarotti. Discuss.); at least not in any way that is commensurate with the common usage of the word "causality".

And now (paradoxic drumroll, please), it is with pleasure and the deepest irony that I present for your dilectation and amusement a fine article from the Atlantean Monthly: science, it appears, agrees with me.


  1. Some science is good...

    ....and Velveeta is CLEAR before they dye it yellow. I mean, water is great, but, partially hydrogenated fats aside, do you really want to eat clear food?

  2. What about glass noodles? Yummy! And egg yolk before you cook it! It turns into tasty merengue even.... And, hmm, vodka, but I guess that isn't a food.

  3. I'll have more to say later, but unfortunately I must point out that the natural clarity of Velveeta is a myth, one that has been thoroughly busted. Snopes it.

  4. A month late, my all-in-good-humor response is here: