Publication details

Science and Wishful Thinking



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description People should be equal but sadly they are not. Despite of our wishes, our ambitions, people differ in many ways. Some are stronger, some are smarter, some are prettier and some are richer and so on. Though we know this sometimes we pretend that this is not the case. Wishful thinking is common in many areas of our ordinary life and science is not an exemption. Even there people make decisions, research plans, applications according to their wishes and ambitions and sometimes further more against evidence. But science based on wishes rather than on evidence is not a good science and such science could be even harmful. In 1978 Bernard David Davis (1978) presented problem of wishful thinking in science as the moralistic fallacy, a problem of derivation “is” from “ought to” (Matt Ridley (1998) called this problem a reverse naturalistic fallacy). Davis and others (Pinker, 2003) showed some examples of this problem and they pointed out the harm which can be done if this occur. But while the naturalistic fallacy, the switch from descriptions of how things are to statements of how things ought to be, has been widely discussed, moralistic fallacy was left behind. But this fallacy is still present in contemporary science and some of the examples can be found in very problematic fields like testing of intelligence, race and culture differences. In my lecture I will deal with the problem of harmful wishful thinking, moralistic fallacy, in science. To put it more exact, I will discuss the examples of harmful restriction of scientific research by ethics, in a broad sense (not only research ethics). The necessity of the difference between intentions or wishes and facts, the necessity to take care of the results of examinations regardless of our fears or convictions will be shown and defended.
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