Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review of Alex Tsakiris' Why Science is Wrong...About Almost Everything

I am familiar with Alex Tsakiris through his very interesting Internet podcast show Skeptiko.  I have been a listener for about five or six years now, and I have always been impressed with both the quality of the guests and Tsakiris's forthright interviewing style.  The show is essentially an investigation into the nature of consciousness with experts from differing points of view.  Given the show's penchant for controversy, many of the interviews are thickly laced with debate, which in my opinion is one of the greatest methods of weighing competing positions.

Tsakiris's new book, Why Science is Wrong...About Almost Everything, is largely a collection of excerpts from interviews from Skeptiko.  Although the title of the book targets "science" as what's wrong about almost everything, I think Tsakiris really ends up targeting "materialism" or "scientific materialism" as what's really wrong.  Science is essentially a method of systematic empirical study, and that method--properly understood--has no vested interest in what turns out to be true (or possibly true).  By contrast, materialism is a global philosophical position or paradigm.  As such, materialism definitely has a vested interest in what is (or can be) true.  That is, materialism is a universal claim about all of reality: specifically, materialism claims that all of reality is completely reducible, without remainder, to "matter in motion."  One candid advocate of this view is Alex Rosenberg who wrote in The Atheist's Guide to Reality (2011) the following:
"All the processes in the universe, from atomic to bodily to mental, are purely physical processes involving fermions and bosons interacting with one another" (p.21).