Ongelukkige nietweter

L'Homme n'est malheureux que parce qu'il méconnoît la Nature. Son Esprit est tellement infecté de préjugés qu'on le croiroit pour toujours condamné à l'erreur : le bandeau de l'opinion dont on le couvre dès l'enfance lui est si fortement attaché que c'est avec la plus grande difficulté qu'on peut le lui ôter...
Paul d’Holbach

Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.
David Hilbert

... Therefore, it is impossible to obtain unmitigated pleasure witihout natural science.

The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science.
E. O. Wilson

By any reasonable measure of achievement, the faith of the Enlightenment thinkers in science was justified. Today the greatest divide within humanity is not between races, or religions, or even, as is widely believed, between the literate and illiterate. It is the chasm that separates scientific from prescientific cultures.
Edward O. Wilson

…the fundamental laws of physics do not describe true facts about reality.
Nancy Cartwright (1983)

The law of causality, I believe, like much that passes muster among philosophers, is a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed to do no harm.
Bertrand Russell

Causality is an attempt to mesmerize the world into some sort of significance.
Lawrence Durrell

In the complex world, the notion of “cause” itself is … either nearly impossible to detect or not really defined—another reason to ignore newspapers, with their constant supply of causes for things.
we are too brainwashed by notions of causality and we think that it is smarter to say because than to accept randomness.
What mother nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.
Nassim Taleb

The degree to which a construct is useful and accepted in the scientific community depends on empirical research that has demonstrated that a scientific construct has construct validity (especially, predictive validity). Thus, if properly understood and empirically corroborated, the "reification fallacy" applied to scientific constructs is not a fallacy at all; it is one part of theory creation and evaluation in normal science.

The stories we are told shape the way we see the world, which shapes the way we experience the world.
Derrick Jensen

The real purpose of scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you don't acutually know.
Robert M. Pirsig


Eve gives her apple

Only through woman did man learn to taste the tree of knowledge. Science is the first sin, the germ of all sins, original sin.


Any fool can know, the point is to understand.
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
A. Einstein

The great era of Greek mathematical science, which began with the birth of a man [Pythagoras], finished with the death of a woman [Hypatia].
M. Wertheim

When I educated myself in the history of science, I found in that history an enormous bias. For one thing that science came from the Judeo-Christian theology, which derogates the material world and presumes that spirit and matter are at war with one another. That separation is fundamental not only to Western culture but to this global technological corporate culture.
Susan Griffin


The priestly culture of physics is not only a matter of concern for women, but for all those who care about science. In a time when so many physicists are talking about God, and when quasi-religious arguments are increasingly being brought to bear in discussions about the funding of expensive physics projects, such as particle accelerators and deep-space telescopes, there is a pressing need for some clarity about the relationship between physics and religion.
M. Wertheim 1996


Mechanism as to motion, atomism as to structure, materialism as to substance, that is the whole system of Democritus. It is as wonderful in its insight, in its sense for the ideal demands of method and understanding, as it is strange and audacious in its simplicity. Only the most convinced rationalist, the boldest prophet, could embrace it dogmatically; yet time has largely given it the proof. If Democritus could look down upon the present state of science, he would laugh, as he was in the habit of doing, partly at the confirmation we can furnish to portions of his philosophy, and partly at our stupidity that cannot guess the rest.

No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought. Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian Physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian Physics? All organizations create organizational necessities.
William S. Burroughs

Il faut n'appeler Science que l'ensemble des recettes qui réussissent toujours. Tout le reste est littérature.
Paul Valery

The whole secret of scientific method is a readiness to learn from mistakes.

The greatest obstacle to knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.
Daniel Boorstin


Lynn Margulis

Body concentrates order. It continuously self-repairs. Every five days you get a new stomach lining. You get a new liver every two months. Your skin replaces itself every six weeks. Every year, 98 percent of the atoms of your body are replaced. This non-stop chemical replacement, metabolism, is a sure sign of life.
Lynn Margulis


That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer.
Jacob Bronowski

The very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt.
Carlo Rovellli

Science provides an explanation of the way things are that does not threaten the way things are.
Louis Menand

The sciences of human nature tend to validate the practices and preferences of whatever regime happens to be sponsoring them. In totalitarion regimes, dissidence is treated as a mental illness. In apartheid regimes, interracial contact is treated as unnatural. In free-market regimes, self-interest is treated as hardwired.
Louis Menand

Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a different reason: It gives them something to do.
Richard Dawkins

Science is the great antidote to the poison of [ideological fervor] and superstition.
Adam Smith (1723 - 1790)

If each of us possessed an accurate neuroscientific understanding of (what we now conceive dimly as) the varieties and causes of mental illness, the factors involved in learning, the neural basis of emotions, intelligence, and socialization, then the sum total of human misery might be much reduced. The simple increase in mutual understanding that the new framework made possible could contribute substantially toward a more peaceful and humane society.
Paul Churchland

There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the center of things.
Giordano Bruno, On Cause, Principle, and Unity

I don’t know anything about small children. I have one, so I know that I don’t know.
Richard Feynman

Playing children

A scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.
Wonko the Sane

Curiosity has wrongly, by those with a vested interest in ignorance and their own revealed truths, been traduced and eternally characterised as a dangerous felicide, but you, dearest of dear, dear readers, know that Curiosity lights the way to glory.
Let us put it another way: the lack of curiosity is the Dementor that sucks all hope, joy, possibility and beauty out of the world. The dull torpic acedia that does not care to find out, that has no hunger and thirst for input, understanding and connection will desertify the human landscape and land our descendants squarely in the soup.
Stephen Fry

Science is is what a father teaches his son. Technology is what his son teaches daddy.
Michel Serres


Study of materials under high vacuum

New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts.
Freeman Dyson

Animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (1) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off" look like flies'.
Borges (A certain Chinese encyclopaedia)

What one fool can do, another can.
Sylvanus Thompson

The illusion that mathematical modelling could set the gambling machines permanently to ‘jackpot’ was as welcome to politicians in pursuit of votes as it was to bankers in pursuit of bonuses.
Nicholas Boyle

Understanding is a lot like sex; it’s got a practical purpose, but that’s not why people do it normally.
Frank Oppenheimer

'Rational economic behavior' is peculiar to market capitalism and is an embedded set of beliefs, not an objective universal law of nature. The myth of economic man explains the organizing principe of contemporary capitalism, nothing more or less.
John Gowdy

All models are totalitarian.
Raoul Vaneigem

Steinberg's cat

... the best material model of a cat is a cat — preferably the same cat.
Norbert Wiener


.., il n’y a pas de certitude; il y a seulement des hommes certains.
Charles Renouvier

The merging of business and science into one corporate body means that medical science can no longer countenance advice incompatible with the interest of commerce.
Catherine Shanahan

Origin of man now proved. Metaphysics must flourish. He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.
Charles Darwin (1838)

A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree of certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which this world is suffering.
Bertrand Russell



Nature wanted to really perform chemistry, therefore she invented the chemist.
Gaston Bachelard


What makes all scientists materialists is not an a priori decision in favor of a doctrine, but the adherence to science as a social method: only that which passes through the test of publication, debate, independent verification, and so forth, is scientific, and the only things that can pass through that test are arguments from evidence, and the only shareable evidence we have is that which comes through the senses, and the only thing that comes through the senses is matter and its interactions.
John Protevi

I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
Douglas Adams

The intellectual, to my mind, is more in touch with humanity than is the confident scientist, who patronizes the past, over-simplifies the present, and envisages a future where his leadership will be accepted . . . . It is high time he came out of his ivory laboratory. We want him to plan for our bodies. We do not want him to plan for our minds, and we cannot accept, so far, his assurance that he will not.
E. M. Forster

One can show the following: given any rule, however "fundamental" or "necessary" for science, there are always circumstances when it is advisable not only to ignore the rule, but to adopt its opposite.
Paul Feyerabend

Hence am I called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.
I. Newton

Warning scientist

Those who do not understand it, I ask to adopt an attitude of total submission and inferiority.


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Materialism and the sciences

The first need of an organism: know the environment in order to deal with it. For humans, science is one of the ways to learn about things. So perhaps is mysticism or religion but science is different because technology is used in it to collect knowledge about what exists while the other ways do not involve experiments but produce literary expressions of emotions, feelings, or just-so stories. Scientists try to find reliable knowledge about the world which means their experiments must have reproducible results. They study only what can empirically be known and they support their stories with known facts and open arguments. Their ways are those of the engineer: trial and error, tinkering, test to failure, and a bit of logic if applicable. Science is driven by curiosity and its purpose is knowledge for its own sake.
Modern science is applied technology.

Definition of science

That is one characterization, there are more. Such as:
"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." (Albert Einstein, 1950); "Science is uncommon sense" (Wolpert); "The goal of science is to make sense of the diversity of nature" (J.D. Barrow 1992); "Science is defined as a set of observations and theories about observations" (F.A. Matsen 1985); "In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite" (Paul Dirac); "The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms" (Albert Einstein again); "Science is a collection of well-attested theories which explain the patterns and regularities among carefully studied phenomena" (Ron Harré, 1972); "The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models (John von Neumann); "Science ever since the time of the Arabs, has had two functions: (a) to enable us to know things, and (b) to enable us to do things." (B. Russell 1952); "All science is either physics or stamp collecting" (Ernest Rutherford 1908); "All science is concerned with the relationship of cause and effect. Each scientific discovery increases man's ability to predict the consequences of his actions and thus his ability to control future events" (Lawrence J. Peter); "Science is about finding the truth, whether we like it or not" (David Bohm); "[Science is] what we have learnt about how to keep from fooling ourselves" (Richard Feynman); "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts" (Richard Feynman): "True definition of science: the study of the beauty of the world." ( Simone Weil).

Perhaps there are readers who now feel what science is but these definitions do not even approximately tell us in what sense science is special and how a scientists work basically differs from that of a police investigator, a musician, or a monk. If the purpose of science is "to find meaningful simplicity in the midst of disorderly complexity", as Herbert Simon suggested, science is storytelling or literature. Curiosity is a basic itch and getting answers pervades all conscious activities. But science as we now know it, seems to be a marginal activity, a luxury; most cultures do not have it. A paleolithic technology, older than language, that arguably led to our analytical science was tracking wildlife by hunters. Agriculture, pottery, and later mining for metals could be developed only by people that had what we now call a scientific mindset. Science as a study of the world, merely for the luxury of knowing it, started when philosophy did and initially the two activities were not distinguished; until last century laboratory glassware used to be listed in company catalogues as philosophical instruments. Science was formally separated from philosophy only recently: both discuss nature including ourselves but a scientist is now said to be someone who works in a laboratory while a philosopher does not. So science apparently is a continuation of ontology with other means (technical ones). Philosophy is a continuation of religion with other means (rational ones) since the argumented narratives in both subjects are identical if a few terms are exchanged. Science is in perennial conflict with its grandparents, the religions, because they largely share a universe of discourse but have contrary interests and aims. They also disagree on premisses and the cognitive value of fact and fiction. Nevertheless science has occasionally been tainted by idealism. Newton was a loyal platonist and Heisenberg was never fired either. Some ideots even suggest that quantum effects in microtubules of nerve cells form the human soul. Mathematics, the divine platonic science of essences and symbols (if pure), is actually applied as told in a well known anecdote of Thiébault; Euler defeated Diderot in an argument on the existence of God in a discussion with empress Catherine using the formula (a + bn)/n = x. Similarly, Richard Price proved mathematically the existence of God in 1763 using Bayes' theorem. And modern traders in financial products use and trust obviously false but imposing applied mathematics that they don't understand. Another example of a misused science is thermodynamics (one of the most platonic branches of physics after elementary particle theory), which is based on three assumptions that are often considered true outside their range of validity. Thermodynamics is about driving forces in states near equilibrium (and without driving forces there are no processes). In real life states are far from equilibrium and driving forces then are much less germane. A theory such as thermodynamics, which forbids the existence of magnetism, and for which atoms and time are not features of things and happenings under study, should be gingerly applied when analyzing the real world if at all.


Of the many different sciences, those involved in the study of matter are particularly relevant for materialism. Physics used to be the study of all of nature, including matter. Modern physics differs from other disciplines such as chemistry and biology because it wields different methods. That difference is hinted at in the opinions of Parmenides and Heraclitus: 'there is no change' or 'everything is change', invariance or impermanence. Physics gradually shifted its subject from specifics to abstractions and to generalities like forces, velocities, mass, densities, temperature, energy, phases, symmetries, and above all, invariants. Physicists specialized in accurately characterizing these phenomena and their skills in measuring them are unsurpassed. They were most interested in processes involving things that stick to their identity while chemistry is mainly about material changes. Physical processes such as vibrations in communication do not change permanently the reacting partners, chemical processes change the nature of the reactants. As an example consider electrons in semiconductors, a subject conventionally considered a branch of physics. Electronics in transistors is a set of reversible chemical redox processes (involving fixed atoms) between refractory reactants that do not burn when charges are exchanged but can even exchange attributes within a picosecond. Typically, physicists refused to change the name anode (+) to cathode (-) when they discovered that electric current is a stream of electrons. The chemistries, as well as their derivates (solid state technology, biology, physiology, psychology), are concerned with specifics of matter, not only its properties but also interconversion and creation of an infinite number of novel matter species; that creative aspect makes chemistry unique among the sciences. Chemistry has invaded all technologies and sciences and is said to be the subversive science; chromatography and mass spectroscopy have now changed even the liberal arts and nuclear spin relaxation effects have overturned traditional psychology. The first chemical research was not scientific but technological; it was about making drugs and alloys for use. Materials such as leather, ceramics, bronze, steel, glass, dyes and pigments were products of prehistoric chemical technology that were remarkably advanced considering the lack of instruments and libraries at the time (50000 – 1000 BCE). Such technologies must have inspired Mochus the physiologist (who lived in Phoenicia before Homerus) and Democritus in Abdera to formulate their atomism. Chemistry as a science is an art form grown from presocratic pragmatic materialism when people started to wonder about the peculiarities of matter. Leucippus and Democritus gave the answer that was not understood by their contemporaries. Nor by us since chemistry is considered to be one of the most boring subjects in school.

The so-called scientific revolution of the seventeenth century was a revolution in the sense that mathematics began to be used as a method in epistemology (the real scientific revolution occurred later). It started as a revival of what Aristarchus and other Hellenic physicists had taught many centuries earlier. Newton reformulated ancient Greek views on celestial mechanics in terms of mathematics (which was also an ancient Indian and Greek discipline) that became available at that time. That revolution, which was supported by observations using a telescope, was about astronomy and did not affect technology because it was not about matter. Moreover, matter was not a proper subject for respectable mathematicians or philosophers. Nevertheless, at that time the balance, a technical device which was widely used in trade since 7000 BCE, began to be applied in the philosophic (we would now say scientific) study of terrestrial matters such as organisms. Other technologies (optics, glassware, vacuum pumps) were also introduced in laboratories: science became experimental again as it used to be in the Middle Ages in the Near East. The scientific revolution that thoroughly changed science and society, did not start with the rediscovery of the heliocentric model by Copernicus (1473 - 1543), but more likely with the discovery of the invisible world of micro-organisms by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723); his results could later be confirmed by Robert Hooke (1635 - 1703). The scientific revolution was launched by an optical device. The sciences flourished owing mainly to glass techology (that perfected lenses and prisms) as it did in the 20th century when Kamerlingh Onnes was the first scientist to liquify helium thanks to the instruments made by top glass blowers in his laboratory. All sciences turn out to be applications of hardware that toolmakers have tinkered and hacked together.

Humanity's ascent into insignificance

The way people saw themselves and the material world changed a few times after natural science started in classical Greece. Each change painfully hit human arrogance and successively demoted idols that were cherished by believers since Plato. Each paradigm change also increased the number of infidels.
1. In the late renaissance Copernicus made the ancient heliocentric model acceptable; the earth was no longer the centre of the universe.
2. During the enlightenment Europeans rediscovered the ancient truth that their souls were no longer immortal.
3. In the nineteenth century people had to admit that they are animals, and like the other animals a product of biological evolution.
4. And at the end of the twentieth century atomism drove the final nail in the coffin of human essence. Neuroscience and genomics turned humans as well as other organisms into composites that could be modified and rebuilt chemically. The human body, just one of a multitude of 7 billion, is a pathetic, malleable, vulnerable, and trivial piece of matter, a casual, temporary fluctuation, produced by random, external forces. Yet paradoxically, for any individual, the body remains utterly central, it is all and everything; the entire universe around it exists only as long as the body lives and is conscious, and the world is only as the body deems it. Both opposing views are difficult to assimilate simultaneously.
5. What next? Perhaps the end of humans and a revival of other organisms that are less stupid than humans. Or a synthesis of novel hybrids. Evolution plays with possibilities, its scope is infinite as atomism has shown.

Three types of science

As was already mentioned by Diderot, science is not a single discipline but an umbrella concept for very different activities; that explains the many contradictory opinions about it as listed above. The sciences can be classified according to the methods used in them. There are three types of science that are so different in style of doing them that they deserve a distinctive name: taxoscience, katascience, and orthoscience (these names are not in general use but what they mean is widely known). A taxoscience makes lists of observed objects of study and categorizes them and their characteristics. A katascience is a study of nature by means of laboratory experiments, synthetic or analytic. It is the only scientific style which adds to what exists in nature. An orthoscience makes theoretical models about phenomena, preferably using mathematics, in order to unify and to try to predict related phenomena. It claims to present a coherent vision on what is and what happens. Crombie (1993) made a further distinction in styles. He had orthoscience subdivided in the models style and the axiomatic styles. He also mentioned the statistical and the historic styles. However, statistics is not part of a style distinct from the other styles but an auxiliary method used in all styles; setting up a statistical correlation is not an independent style of doing science, it is a product of epistemology. And the historic style, such as in darwinism, is an approach in taxoscience. Some anthropologists assume that taxoscience and katascience were the first forms of study of the world; taxoscientists are bookkeepers and katascientists are hackers. In the axial era people started to make models to explain phenomena as results of chains of causes in natural terms instead of supernatural ones and by doing so started orthoscience. Theoretical physics, the examplary orthoscience, began to be mathematicized in the seventeenth century; in the twentieth century the process was completed and physics fell apart into mathematics and solid state physics which is basicallly a branch of chemistry.

No single science is practiced in a single style only but some style may dominate a science. The boundaries of the styles are fuzzy; taxoscientists and orthoscientists may rely on analysis which is part of katascience and models are used by all types to some extent. Examples of taxosciences are early astronomy, descriptive mineralogy, cultural anthropology, and biological subjects such as mycology and Linneus’ phytology. Astronomists and archeologists can only observe and model but not modify experimentally what they study. The dominant taxoscientific style in a particular field of science is at a later stage often replaced by another style. Examples of katasciences are synthetic and analytic chemistry, spectroscopies, semiconductor physics, and experimental genetics. Katasciences and taxosciences are empirical, orthosciences are theoretical. Typical orthosciences are thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and high energy physics. When people discuss science, they often have orthoscience in mind. Therefore more on orthoscience presently.

Orthoscience as magic

Orthosciences are disciplines that claim to develop and organize understanding using models or theories. Models are set up with an abstract mathematical representation that simplifies things and relations in the field of discourse. A model reduces data, it is shorter than a table giving all the facts. A model should be able to unify facts, preferably as many as possible. In the virtual world of the model, that model is studied with thought experiments like the analysis of a chess match in the chess literature. The orthosciences have been so successful in simple cases, such as celestial mechanics and physics of idealized systems, that people also applied their laws to more complex systems. However laws, that are derived for idealized simple cases, are not applicable if the ceteris paribus rule (other things being equal) is not, which is usually the case in complex systems.

Established models sometimes are misused in another way. Scientific laws in complex subjects, as in meteorology, economics, ecology, and transport phenomena in technical systems, are always severely parametrized. The values that are chosen for the (so-called semi-empirical) parameters determine the outcome of the models or what they predict. Using qualitative reasoning (or arbitrarily assigning parameters), contrary outcomes can result from the same model. The literature of economics and psychology shows notorious examples which is the reason why those disciplines are popular with politicians. Using their jargon you can state whatever you want and claim scientific proof.

However, models can be quite useful in complex subjects if their ontologies are chosen well and the parameters are given values by fitting them to experimental results. Models even may be indispensable as the analogy between an involved or complex scientific subject and a complex number shows. A complex number has a real and an imaginary part; a complex scientific subject has a realistic and a non-real, fictive part, respectively the collection of experimental data that are part of the scientific subject and the entities in the theory behind those experimental data. Models are imaginary, experimental data real. This is more than a pun. Complex numbers are irreal (they have things like i = √-1) but physically useful. Experimental data are like real numbers, model entities are like imaginary numbers, fictions but useful fictions. The colour of gold and the magnetism of nickel are real, the wavefunction of the metallic valence electrons that describes those physical properties is imaginary. The measured absorption in a magnetic field of electromagnetic radiation by a compound is real, the concomitant spin hamiltonian, an irreal device to identify and characterize that compound, is imaginary.

But do those fictive model entities exist in the way that measured matter behaviour exists? A question of definition. Polanyi pointed out that “science” (he had orthoscience in mind) is like magical thinking. This is unsurprising as both scientific theory and magic have similar claims of universality and employ similar rhetorics as Feyerabend has shown. Feyerabend even claimed that science could advance only if scientists would produce propaganda and fake facts that oppose established certainties (an advice that was formalized by de Bono in his methods to boost creativity). Magic, as well as scientific modeling, uses circularity, epicyclic elaboration, and suppressed nucleation if confronted by unexplained facts. Circularity means that success of the predictions of the model confirms the model and failures are explained away by invoking external factors: "that is not part of the model" is the usual clincher. Epicyclic elaboration means that if factual inconsistencies are inferred, failures of the model are then countered by enriching the model with ad-hoc additions to it. Suppressed nucleation means that instances of counterevidence are prevented from forming a competing model by “explaining” and disarming them separately in terms of the old model. A popular faith based on the authority of orthoscience is called scientism. An established scientific paradigm can be replaced only when the current generation of leading scientists is retired. Safety, certainty, and familiarity with old concepts are valued more than effectiveness and relevance, both in society and in science.

Myths about orthoscience

There are three ineradicable myths about orthoscience (sometimes ill-named basic science): that it is the source of technological advances, that it is rational, and that it represents the truth.
It is often claimed but never shown that "basic" science is necessary for modern invention. There are many examples to illustrate the contrary; moreover basic science even tends to block technological innovation. Computers and hard discs are emergent electromagnetic devices but innovators in chip design and computer science do not use Maxwells equations in their calculations. The steam engine was invented by tinkerers such as Hero of Alexandria (10 - 70 CE) and Newcomen (1664 - 1728), not by academic physicists. Steamships crossed the Atlantic (1819) before Clausius was born (1822); internal combustion engines were thermal engines but innovations in traction occurred outside and in spite of thermodynamics and without using Lagrangian formalism. Quasicrystals were a serendipitous discovery that occurred during play with thin layers in a laboratory and not by applying well-established crystallographic laws which even prohibited the existence of quasicrystals; the discoverer of pentagonal symmetry in crystal lattices was fired from his university on publishing his findings (the general advice to publish true novelty after obtaining tenure and not before did not help here). Low-temperature and low-pressure diamond formation was observed in a Russian laboratory and rejected for decades by occidental scientific orthodoxy because of improper use of thermodynamic arguments (an echo of the Bellarmine syndrome). And the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity was definitely not the result of many decades of developing sophisticated quantummechanical models. All innovations, in technology and in science, are empirical and serendipitous and never derived from theory. Admittedly, a few scientific discoveries may have been inspired by some theory, by wrong theories as well as by correct ones. But scientific discoveries have been inspired by many things, even dreams or accidents. What is called science-based technology is after all nothing but science-explained technology. Promoting fundamental science (wrong name again) by claiming technological spin-off is a hoax. Particle accelerators and interplanetary satellites for orthoscience are far more expensive than theatre and art productions. Remarkably, orthoscientific projects are copiously funded which is quite at odds with the spirit of commercialism in modern times.

The second myth about orthoscience is that it is objective and rational. Objective means to the point, not personal, or not having an ulterior non-scientific motive. Scientific priorities chosen by commercial companies and the lobbied administration, citation index scores, Nobel prizes, patent laws, and research fund acquisition, take care of that one. Nor can science be taken seriously as long as "science of economics" is not seen as an oxymoron such as "virtual reality", "security forces", "extrasensory perception", "digital intelligence", or "alternative facts". Rational often means according to correct rules of logic (the other part of a scientific explanation is choice of axioms and definitions, which is immune to criticism owing to its function). Logic is the discipline of tautologies in relations between objects. The end result of a rational argument depends more on assumed premisses than on logic; the correctness of the reasoning itself is hardly ever an issue because the logical part of an explanation is so simple. According to the laws of logic an untrue premiss implies true as well as untrue conclusions. That means that impeccable logic does not guarantee correct conclusions. Moreover, logic is about closed, sharply demarcated sets for which truth tables are meaningful, and therefore hardly applies to classes of objects in real nature. But logic certainly is an enticing game.

The third myth is that models supply a correct description of parts of the world. Thermodynamics, general relativity theory, and quantummechanics are true, no matter what. However, a model is more or less valid in a limited range of conditions only; the conditions of an experiment may fall outside that range and the model then predicts wrong results. Sometimes the public, and even some scientists, appear to ignore that. Even if hard causality is replaced by fuzzy logic in a model, a universal scientific truth can occasionally be a romantic fiction. Orthoscience seems a literary genre in those cases, mathematics a branch of poetry.

A final word on orthoscience. Increasingly, theoretical analysis of phenomena is checked by computer simulation or replaced by it. Fast computers are needed for that because atomic interactions and motion are not simple. Cellular automata form a new science; to make them sufficiently reliable they must approach the scale and update rates that atoms have. Also other simulations (such as ab-initio ones) of complex items are only possible by means of computers much faster than GHz rates and having a much smaller architecture scale than what our microprocessors have now (molecular quantumcomputers anyone?). Only structures on an atomic scale may be small and fast enough. Those structures exist already: they are the atoms that are studied in the simulation. The logical conclusion is that a process can be simulated only reliably by the process itself: atoms calculate faster than chip patterns. The best form of simulation is laboratory work (the continuation of computer simulation with other means). So much for otherwise amazing orthoscience.

Platonism in the sciences

Not every metascientist is a democritist. Platonic philosophers (modern ones, who call themselves neo-kantians) remain opposed to atomism because entities like atoms cannot be known themselves, only their effects and interactions can be observed and changed. Things like the four elements, humors, phlogiston, calorique, and ether were abandoned soon after their formulation because behaviour of matter only has significance, not the underlying entities themselves which are disposable or exchangeable. The same fate undoubtedly awaits atoms, according to these phenomenologists. They want a reality-free system, the cause of the observed effects is in their own minds. Mechanism and technology are dirty words for ideots who reject pragmatism and prefer to glamorize sundry black boxes (the epistemic idols of the platonist). Platonic scientists can be found not only in theoretical physics (quantum mechanics is also a favourite subject of intelligent-designers and other gurus) but in theoretical biology as well. A Scandinavian school holds that organisms are active systems of sign production, sign mediation and sign interpretation; signs are immaterial actors that harness the physical laws to create life. Biology is seen as a form of semiotics, an original idea reminiscent of Dawkins' memes or meridians in acupuncture. This view reverses the democritic conjecture that semiotics, language, logic, algorithms, and structures are abstract representations of complex matter behaviour. Platonism is persistent, even in the sciences; probably the result of inbuilt brain circuitry that tries to construct causes for everything.

Some scientists are known to have openly pimped for commercial ideologies. They started to deny that smoking is harmful and the same ones then objected against the IPCC results. Another indication that scientists do not sell material truths but are willing to behave as common ideots if so required by the source of their salary.

Bottom line

Mankinds most fascinating product, the natural sciences, can hardly exist without materialism. The reverse does not hold. Admittedly, a reliable knowledge of nature is vital for existence, but that is another way of saying that technology is crucial. An orthoscience on the other hand supplies only a commentary, it constructs a coherent and elegant story about how selected facts are interrelated, after they are discovered or applied. When a science is institutionalized (now all are) it tends to succumb to idealism. The taxosciences and the katasciences are more or less immune to dogmatization but the orthosciences are vulnerable.

All revolutions in views on matter, viz.: the agricultural revolution, the axial one, the renaissance, the enlightenment, the darwinian revolution, and the information revolution were mere preludes to the grand neuro-humane revolution that has recently started. It results from the realization that humans with their absurd and less absurd instincts can be shaped. More importantly, people begin to see how to do so. Knowledge means the salvation of our species and much else. But who want to accept its implications?