Worth Reading - 6/3

1. An article in Scientific American calls for the need for increased skepticism of science. Why? Because it's what keeps junk science away and helps real progress be made in scientific exploration.

I’m a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, because science needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That keeps me busy, because, as you know, most peer-reviewed scientific claims are wrong.
So I’m a skeptic, but with a small S, not capital S. I don’t belong to skeptical societies. I don’t hang out with people who self-identify as capital-S Skeptics. Or Atheists. Or Rationalists.
When people like this get together, they become tribal. They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber.

2. Last week, I posted an article from Smithsonian Magazine about the potential for so-called "superbugs" to become prevalent and antibiotics to stop working. Here is a TED talk that explains why that is such a big deal.

3. From the print edition of First Things, an argument that the progressive movement has been punching down. In other words, the white collar liberals are going after blue collar citizens. We shouldn't have to agree with everything that the victims stand for to recognize the class difference and the regular abuse being heaped from above.

There has been a distinct theme of class warfare in a significant number of the lawsuits that have been brought seeking to compel operators of small businesses peripheral to the wedding industry—florists, bakers, photographers, and proprietors of picturesque wedding venues—to offer their services in same-sex ceremonies that their sincerely held Christian beliefs deem invalid. The same-sex couples who pursue the litigation are often highly educated professionals, the ACLU is ubiquitously at hand to offer them free legal representation, and the relief sought in court is typically far broader than simply making plaintiffs claiming injury whole by providing them a one-off service. It typically involves a blanket court order requiring the Christian florist or baker or photographer or innkeeper to ­provide those services in perpetuity to every same-sex couple that darkens his doors or face financially ruinous consequences. In a few cases, such as Stutzman’s, the defendant faces a court order plus financial ruin, because many progressive judges lend sympathetic ears to same-sex plaintiffs’ claims of humiliation and severe emotional harm. Typically as well, militant gay-rights sympathizers—and there are apparently plenty of them—flood social media and review sites such as Yelp with one-star comments about wilted flowers and cupcakes that gave them food poisoning, all in obvious efforts to put those holdout Christians out of business.

4. This article ran over a month ago, but it is a worthwhile read from Bruce Ashford at SEBTS about the intellectual who predicted the factors what would lead to the present cultural disaster in the US.

The great American sociologist Philip Rieff (1922–2006) stands as one of the 20th century’s keenest intellectuals and cultural commentators. His work was stunning in its intellectual breadth and depth. Rieff did sociology on a grand scale—sociology as prophecy—diagnosing the ills of Western society and offering a prognosis and prescription for the future. Although he wasn’t a Christian, his work remains one of the greatest gifts—even if a complicated and challenging one—to Christians living today. (Tim Keller often lists Rieff’s The Triumph of the Therapeutic as one of his essential “big books” on culture.)

Rieff began his academic career in the 1950s and 60s by focusing on the work of Sigmund Freud. According to Rieff, Freud’s exploration of neurosis was really an exploration of authority, as Western man was realizing the idea of divine authority is an illusion. God doesn’t exist; therefore, he isn’t a legitimate authority. Freud recognized that as belief in God faded, psychological neuroses multiplied. Instead of correcting this by pointing persons back to God, however, Freud sought to heal by teaching his patients to accept this loss of authority as a positive development.

Thus the therapeutic culture was born. In place of theology, Freud and his progeny left us with sociology. Rieff warned that the tradeoff would not be a fruitful one.