IN A recent lengthy letter Tom Watson maintains that we “Wifi alarmists” (his term) are wrong (“Spurious facts”, letters, December 21).
Tom’s letter is replete with self-fulfilling and self-referential metaphysical assumptions about reality, which he repeatedly hauls out as alleged “proof” of what he has already smuggled in as an axiomatic assumption at the outset, as with his starry-eyed allegiance to so-called scientific “facts” – as if such highly dubious moves put an end to the argument.
First, we need some necessary conceptual ground-clearing.
Tom starts his letter by exposing his basic misunderstanding – and misrepresentation – of our argument.
He is still caught up in the narrowly binary, “either/or” thinking that assumes that objective evidence represents some kind of “truth”, and any other kind of evidence is necessarily false.
We have never rejected the notion of scientific evidence, Tom.
Rather, modern technological science is just one “story about reality” amongst many; and in this rich ecology of knowledge, sometimes scientific findings will of course have relevance.
But at other times, scientific “findings” will be nothing more than ideologically driven, self-fulfilling “proofs” of pre-decided metaphysical assumptions, spuriously masquerading as “objective” science.
In a postmodern, “New Science” cosmology, there is nothing incoherent about our position.
Tom seems incapable of understanding that his unitary category of “science” carries within it the widest possible range of legitimacy and truth-status.
This is why we “Wifi alarmists” bring an open mind and discernment to the “science” category, rather than imposing a deludedly simplistic calculus that assumes “science true”, and “everything else myth” or untrue.
Next, as for Tom’s claim that we are “magical thinkers” and that only science (as defined by him) can tell us about the material world: again, we have to enter the realms of metaphysics here.
Rudolf Steiner famously said a century ago that the one thing that materialists definitely don’t understand is materialism itself – and how right he was.
If you believe in the mechanistic “billiard-ball universe”, blind watch-maker world beloved of Professors Richard Dawkins, Edzard Ernst and their ilk, then of course a world view that argues that one cannot understand matter without understanding the spiritual at the same time is rejected out of hand – because it is not “verifiable” in conventional scientific terms.
Note, again, the stultifyingly narrow assumption here that only that which is measurable according to conventional scientific procedures exists – and nothing else does.
One only has to state it in its rank baldness to expose how absurd this metaphysical position is – but this it the inevitable consequence of the narrow thinking of those like Tom Watson who are ideologically wedded to a narrow materialist metaphysics.
But the final clincher is that even if we assume for a moment that Tom Watson’s materialist metaphysics are right, and our spiritually informed metaphysics are wrong, then to treat the world as a living, whole organism, as we would do, is far more likely to produce healthy outcomes for the future of the Earth, than are policies and attitudes that derive from treating the universe as if it were a meaningless billiard-ball universe which consists of nothing more than collections of atoms and molecules.
Treating our world in the latter way has led us to the brink of destroying our own nest and to near ecological catastrophe – and we “Wifi alarmists” and our ilk will continue to speak our truth to technological power and its many violences, until some sense and ecological sanity start to prevail.
Dr Richard House Stroud