Opinion:

I liked this quote because it presents another way of looking at the distinction between science and scientism.

To those points mentioned in the piece, I would add – or perhaps elaborate – that the word scientism also includes crummy science, phony science, or science simply going beyond its bounds.

I always think of university where “methodology” in the humanities is often upheld as some kind of scientific legitimizer. The real story, of course, for those bright or honest enough to admit it, is that the term “methodology” is at least partly paraded around to give a scientific gloss to things and thereby

  • sound more legitimate
  • look good among other universities and boards and hence increase academic ranking
  • draw in private, government, and corporate benefactors
  • attract – and yet intimidate – gullible students, along with their hard-earned money

One student at a colloquium once said his “methodology” was to be honest about his own biases so people reading his material would know where he was coming from. He felt that was far better than holding up a phony mask of objectivity—an idea and practice that often accompanies the word “methodology.”

And then there was one lousy professor, who ironically never went to colloquia but liked to hang around by himself in the department mailroom… well, he was cited – through the grapevine – by another student as saying,

“A UNIVERSITY IS A PLACE WHERE A PROFESSOR GETS A PAYCHECK.”

Lovely attitude, huh?

And guess what he taught?

Methodology.