Author Topic: Timothy Ferris - The Science of Liberty (2010)  (Read 1034 times)

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Timothy Ferris - The Science of Liberty (2010)
« on: July 30, 2011, 11:26:01 am »
This is definitely worth reading.

Ferris explores the relationships between science, liberalism, and democracy. Before this gets mucked up in politics, let me explain Ferris' use of "liberalism." He is referring to the idea that all people have certain rights and freedoms, and governments should not interfere with those rights and freedoms. Most of the democracies that exist in the world today are liberal democracies - the governments honor the idea that citizens have certain rights and freedoms. He is not using "liberal" in the common liberal left vs. conservative right fashion. In fact, he shows a different way to look at political ideologies that shows the relative relationships of liberals, conservatives, progressives, and totalitarians.

In The Science of Liberty, Ferris explores the connections between science and democracy from the beginnings of the Enlightenment to modern times. He explains how science works best in a democratic society, and shows why it does not do well in totalitarian societies. For example, despite commonly held views, science suffered greatly in Nazi Germany, and did much better in Britain and the U.S. during the same period.

Ferris also shows how democracy is essentially scientific in nature. Democracies are constantly saying, "Here's a problem, let's try solution X." Over time, the effectiveness of solution X is evaluated. If it appears to be working, it is continued. If not it is discontinued or modified. He does point out that, just like science, democracy is messy, inefficient, and does not make progress in an orderly, straight-line fashion.

Ferris looks at a wide range of things from American independence, the Terror of the French Revolution, totalitarian anti-science, academic anti-science (e.g., post-modernism), and others. Overall, I think he makes a strong case, but I wish he could have gone into a little more detail on some things.
"Eyesight should learn from reason." - Kepler