Science and Regulations

I am wary of science. Any good philosopher will tell you that science doesn’t produce “knowledge.” The reasons for that claim are kind of technical (the Problem of Perception, the Problem of Induction, etc…), but once upon a time, when I was studying analytical Western Philosophy, I understood them and agreed with them. Anyway, I don’t want to get in a technical discussion of epistemology (fancy word warning—google it!) here. Let’s just say that science produces “well-justified rational belief” and leave it at that. Still, the term “knowledge” is regularly used and it’s an easier term to write. I’ll continue using it with the above understanding in mind.

Anyway, as I said, I’m wary of science. Call me a technophobe or even a luddite, but I see serious harm being done to our society by science. One area of concern is in the realm of regulations. I’m a conservative, and as far as I am concerned, the fewer regulations the better. And yet, the geniuses in American bureaucracy pump out well-over a thousand regulations per year without rescinding any from prior years. How can we expect anyone to keep up with that? Every company must need reams upon reams of regulation specialists. I don’t regard that as a good thing. It is prohibitively expensive and raises an unfair bar against small entrepreneurial companies. But the story does not end there. I would like to share an important insight: many of these regulations come from science: more specifically, the explosion in scientific “knowledge.” As scientific knowledge grows, so do regulations. Necessarily. We know more, so we are forced to make more rules based on this knowledge to keep ourselves from damaging each other. The result is a loss of freedom and an increase in State control.

Obviously, we must strike some kind of balance here, particularly since the regulations are not based on true “knowledge” as I mentioned above. Need to be convinced of that? Consider nutrition. First, eggs are a part of everyone’s breakfast. Then, they are bad for you—too much cholesterol. No, they are good for you—it’s chock full of vitamins and nutrients and the cholesterol in it is not that bad; or it may even be the good cholesterol. Ten years from now, they’ll be regarded as pure poison, I’m sure. Not satisfied with eggs? What about red wine? Chocolate? Butter? Smoking? And I’m sure there are more. How can you justify interfering with another’s livelihood based on half-truths and an inchoate body of changing “knowledge?” The scientists have reversed themselves so many times, you’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical about the claim that they should have final say over free market products. Should they be ignored? No. But there must be a balance somewhere, somehow. I’m not sure where it is, though. I understand the problem; I can state it, I think clearly; but I don’t know how to solve it.

Before I go, I’ll make a final note on regulations in the form of a metaphor. Imagine that a business is a human being: a female, just to satisfy the feminists. Imagine that every regulation passed by Congress is a thin string that is tied from a concrete floor to the woman in question. It restricts her activities in an almost insignificant manner. It is but one simple rule she must abide by in her daily business activities. But then Congress passes another regulation and another string is attached. Then, another. How many such strings can the woman bear before being reduced to immobility? Clearly, by one thousand such strings, she may find herself regretting ever entering business in the first place, as by then, she will have become a slave of the State.


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