N. Gabriel Martin in The Philosophical Salon:
Scientism – the belief that science is the only valid source of knowledge and that all legitimate questions can be answered by science – is what spawns pseudoscience and science denialism. If science is treated as though it not only informs us but also dictates how our lives ought to be lived and how society ought to be run, then it is easier to peddle in the baseless denial of scientific claims than it is to challenge the illegitimate claim of authority over our choices made on science’s behalf.
When, as during the COVID-19 pandemic, governments claim to deal in ‘evidence-based policy,’ drawing a direct line from science to the most disruptive and upsetting domestic political and social shifts in memory, it is no wonder that public discontent targets science itself. In fact, the same worldview that makes claiming to ‘follow the science’ a political necessity has also made attacking science the only conceivable mode of dissent.
By fostering a political culture, in which placing responsibility for a political decision on ‘the science’ is a viable way of defending it, scientism has made challenging science the only way to challenge political decisions. But, in both cases, a debate that should be about politics is misdirected.