Seventy-five years ago, C.S. Lewis published his novel That Hideous Strength, which explored the dangers of government in the name of science. What relevance does Lewis’s advice on the promise and perils of science-based public policy have in the age of COVID-19 and beyond? Political scientist John West, editor of the book The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, explores what we might learn from Lewis about the abuses of science during emergencies and how we might harness the benefits of science while avoiding the drawbacks of “scientism.” This online talk was originally delivered as part of a webinar held by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute on May 16, 2020.
For more on scientism be sure to check out John West’s book, Darwin Day In America, which tells the disturbing story of scientific expertise run amuck, exposing how an ideological interpretation of Darwinian biology and reductionist science have been used to degrade American culture and fuel a relentless march from democracy to technocracy in criminal justice, welfare, business, education, and bioethics. Originally published in 2007, the book was re-released in an expanded paperback edition in 2015 featuring a new chapter on “Scientism in the Age of Obama — and Beyond.”