Chronicle of Higher Ed: "Science Warriors vs. Philosophers of Science"

I have the will to provoke, and so I link to this provocative essay "Science Warriors' Ego Trip" from the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Carlin Romano. From the essay:

The problem with polemicists like (Nonsense on Stilts author Massimo) Pigliucci is that a chasm has opened up between two groups that might loosely be distinguished as "philosophers of science" and "science warriors." Philosophers of science, often operating under the aegis of Thomas Kuhn, recognize that science is a diverse, social enterprise that has changed over time, developed different methodologies in different subsciences, and often advanced by taking putative pseudoscience seriously, as in debunking cold fusion. The science warriors, by contrast, often write as if our science of the moment is isomorphic with knowledge of an objective world-in-itself–Kant be damned!–and any form of inquiry that doesn't fit the writer's criteria of proper science must be banished as "bunk." Pigliucci, typically, hasn't much sympathy for radical philosophies of science. He calls the work of Paul Feyerabend "lunacy," deems Bruno Latour "a fool," and observes that "the great pronouncements of feminist science have fallen as flat as the similarly empty utterances of supporters of intelligent design."

It doesn't have to be this way. The noble enterprise of submitting nonscientific knowledge claims to critical scrutiny–an activity continuous with both philosophy and science–took off in an admirable way in the late 20th century when Paul Kurtz, of the University at Buffalo, established the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (Csicop) in May 1976. Csicop soon after launched the marvelous journal Skeptical Inquirer, edited for more than 30 years by Kendrick Frazier.

Although Pigliucci himself publishes in Skeptical Inquirer, his contributions there exhibit his signature smugness. For an antidote to Pigliucci's overweening scientism 'tude, it's refreshing to consult Kurtz's curtain-raising essay, "Science and the Public," in Science Under Siege (Prometheus Books, 2009, edited by Frazier), which gathers 30 years of the best of Skeptical Inquirer.

Kurtz's commandment might be stated, "Don't mock or ridicule–investigate and explain." He writes: "We attempted to make it clear that we were interested in fair and impartial inquiry, that we were not dogmatic or closed-minded, and that skepticism did not imply a priori rejection of any reasonable claim. Indeed, I insisted that our skepticism was not totalistic or nihilistic about paranormal claims."

"Science Warriors' Ego Trips" (via Christian Science Monitor and The Anomalist)