Social Science as the New Puritanism

One thing that is annoying is how people who are otherwise objectively smart (such as in STEM fields) and disinclined to believe hype from ‘political media’ or the MSM, uncritically believe social scientists. It’s like, “that pundit on Fox News is wrong, but some social scientist or journalist is right.” No, they may both be wrong. Making up some narrative with a misleading graph does not make the scientist right.

The alure and success of social science is it does not make the mistakes of the mainstream media. It’s no different from the MSM, but rather than sound effects and flashy graphics, it’s a cited study that has been wildly misconstrued and sensationalized. And instead of the threat of terrorism, like in 2002, it’s a loneliness epidemic in 2022. Same thing. We’re being told that unless we change our behavior, that society will collapse.

Bryan Caplan puts it well in this tweet:

Now that drugs and cigarettes are passe, social media is the latest thing to be hyped by sociologists, health experts, and the media as a crisis. Same for vaping. Every generation has its crisis and nags. In the ’90s it was in regard to violent lyrics in music affecting the youth and causing suicides (even though the problem was vastly overblown).

These people need to always find something to complain about justify their existence. How many times can they cry wolf until we stop taking them seriously, and stop giving them taxpayer dollars for useless research? Anything that people find enjoyable must have some huge consequence for society or individually. People are not allowed to have fun. It’s sorta like secular puritanism.

People on either side of the aisle for some reason take offense, especially over the past few years and even more so compared to pre-2020 or so, at the notion that humans are endowed with free will and will generally gravitate to what which they enjoy, not what sociologists or experts say to do or what is good or bad. In the 90s and early 2000s, conservatives tended to have a much more laissez-faire attitude towards smoking, the constipation of ‘bad’ food like surgery drinks, or not wearing seatbelts, not not anymore. Yet this has flipped in regard to drug use.

It’s also symptomatic of a post-2020 Puritanical morality revival in American, seen everywhere (not just the far-left in invoking well-worn, unoriginal comparisons between the Puritans to ‘the woke’), including ‘the right’ and ‘the middle’. It’s this overbearing need or desire by social scientists and their journalist accomplices to try to tell people how to live, or to catastrophize everything.