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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ignorance on Parade

Before I could even form the outline of a post based upon a fine column, Jonah Goldberg is on it:

Kevin Williamson’s piece on “Rationalia” may be the best thing he’s written in a while — which is quite a high bar. But I may be biased because it is so in my wheelhouse. For those of you who read the Tyranny of Clichés or any of my extended rants on philosophical Pragmatism and “science,” this should be no surprise.

Kevin is right that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s brain fart fantasy of a virtual country where “All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence” is “school boy nonsense.” We all knew kids in high school — some of us may even have been that kid before we matured — who pompously argued that this or that law or controversy was stupid because the right answer is obvious. The problem is that such thinking isn’t educated out of kids, it is pounded into them. Worse, as Kevin notes, it has been routinely and consistently elevated to a level of intellectual and philosophical profundity.
The Pragmatists gave philosophical heft to the Progressive crusade for “disinterestedness.” Progressive officials and journalists weren’t pursuing their own interests or privileging their own agendas, they were simply charting the course for the best outcomes based on “science.” This habit of mind, which Hayek dubbed “scientism,” has poisoned the liberal blood stream ever since. Woodrow Wilson suffered from it, as did FDR and JFK. Paul Krugman insists he has no liberal biases, it’s just that facts have a liberal bias. Confidence that planners, armed with reason alone, could outthink markets in particular and reality in general, has been the most reliable midwife of unintended outcomes for the last two centuries.
The epistemological problems with this kind of confirmation bias are obviously bad enough. But the more important point is that this line of thinking is fundamentally undemocratic. The whole point of this line of argument is to take decisions away from the people and put it in the hands of experts who know better.
Politics in the most basic Aristotelian and democratic senses rests on the idea that people can disagree about what the right course of action is.
Indeed, most meaningful political disputes are fundamentally disputes over competing values. That means people of good will can disagree on what the evidence shows or, more importantly, on which evidence should win out. Tyson thinks that all good and right people will see the “evidence” the same way. I honestly believe only arrogant or naive fools and oblivious dogmatists can think that is right.

There are many disputes that arise from differing  preferences.  When those differences are about values, negotiating a peaceful resolution in the political realm are a bit tricky.  Refusal by either side to engage in open and honest discussion of such matters is just asking for heightened conflict.  Given the behavior I frequently encounter, it's hard to know if the ignorance is willful or if it derives from a will to power.  I try to give the benefit of the doubt but sometimes it's real hard.


I highly recommend the video at the end of the column linked to  - for those who don't do videos, if you follow the video to youtube, the "more" drop-down menu has a very accurate transcript.

Also, another column reminds me of a recent observation.  In the last year or two many of my progressive friends have exhibited not just difference of preferences, but a growing intolerance to the mere expression of difference of opinion.  Friends who are not progressives have confirmed that same experience.  It's getting even more difficult to have fruitful discussions.
I don’t think people appreciate how pernicious and widespread this crowdsourced totalitarianism really is. Routine lies in the service of left-wing narratives are justified in the name of “larger truths,” while actual truth-telling in the other direction is denounced as hate speech or “triggering.” 

Even when liberals call for an “honest conversation” about this, that, or the other thing, what they really mean is they want everyone who disagrees with the prevailing progressive view to fall in line. Almost invariably, when I hear calls for “frank talk,” “honest dialogue,” or a new “national conversation,” I immediately translate it as, “Let the next chapter of indoctrination begin.” It’s a way of luring dissenters from political correctness out into the open so they can be smashed over the head with a rock.
But when someone on the other side of the ideological chasm questions the official narrative, they must be demonized or otherwise silenced. Why? Because the last thing progressives want is to start an honest conversation. They want to have their conversations — and only their conversations.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

More Gloom ... for Apocaholics

The Malthusians of the world are always right until they’re wrong. They’ll warn of impending resource depletion until they’re blue in the face, but time and again human ingenuity (and natural providence) has made fools of them. We’ve seen two welcome new examples of Gaia’s riches this week—what’ll we find next?
So concludes an article at The American Interest. (h/t Instapundit)  It mentions:
 As one of the researchers put it, “[t]here’s a lot more fresh groundwater in California than people know.” The breakthrough here involved searching for water deeper underground than aquifers designated for human consumption typically lie.
Halfway across the world a different group of scientists employing a novel new detection technique found an enormous new supply of helium gas—an increasingly scarce element that’s critically important for advanced scientific research and medical technologies—in Tanzania. The University of Oxford reports:
[A] research group from Oxford and Durham universities, working with Norway-headquartered helium exploration company Helium One, has developed a brand new exploration approach. The first use of this method has resulted in the discovery of a world-class helium gas field in Tanzania. […]
Helium prices have quintupled since 2000 as supplies have started to dwindle. You can understand, then, why this discovery is being described as a “game changer,” and not just for the fact of this specific supply alone, either: this was the first place these scientists employed their new surveying technique. They’re batting 1.000, and could now apply this technique in areas with similar geology in different parts of the world.

The Apocaholics, control freaks and statists of varying stripes just never learn...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit! Texit?

The British voted to leave the EU.

I realize that the political structure of Britain within the EU is different than the political structure of Texas within the United States, but if Texas wanted to leave, from the perspective of human rights and the right of self determination, would a TEXIT be that much different than a BREXIT?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Unintended Guns

Can you ban heroin use? Given that US federal law for being caught with a mere pound of heroin is life in prison yet more than a half-million people in the US have used heroin in the past year, I'd say either no or that the cost of doing so would be intolerably high (for example, killing on-the-spot anyone even suspected of either buying, selling or possessing the drug without due process might work, but that cost would be awfully high and probably intolerable). And heroin use is probably not protected by the constitution.

Can you ban AR-15s? Just like heroin, you can pass legislation to do so, but in reality, no, you really can't. Because unlike heroin, AR-15s are easy to make. Really easy. Unfortunately, because of fear of anti-AR-15 legislation, there is now a burgeoning underground market for the equipment to make critical AR-15 components:
But even fears of such legislation have lead gun owners to stock up on guns and ammunition after every mass shooting in recent history. And now a newer trend has emerged in the days since Omar Mateen killed 49 people with a handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle: sales are spiking for the equipment and materials used by DIY gunsmiths to make their own, fully-functional, semi-automatic weapons. 
Using power tools, chunks of aluminum, and cheap, consumer-grade digital gadgets, those firearm-focused members of the maker movement fabricate homemade weapons like AR-15s and AR-10s that skirt all regulation and would be untraceable in some imagined, future crackdown in which the government were to seize registered weapons. “People are hopping off the mainstream train and accepting an underground dissident mentality when it comes to guns,” says Cody Wilson, the founder of the Austin, Texas-based DIY gun group Defense Distributed. “They’re making the connection: If [an AR-15 ban] is enacted, I can get this machine and make one anyway.”
Since the fall of 2014, Defense Distributed has sold approximately three thousand of the $1,500 devices it calls the Ghost Gunner, a computer-controlled, one-foot cubed milling machine designed to let anyone carve their own aluminum body of an AR-15 at home. Since all other parts of the gun can be bought without any regulation, the result is a lethal weapon that’s free from background checks, waiting periods, serial numbers, or any other government involvement.
On a typical day, Defense Distributed sells four or five of its gun-making machines, according to Wilson. But on the day after the Orlando gun massacre, it sold seven. The second day after the killings, as Democratic senators were filibustering, it sold 11. In all, Defense Distributed’s total revenue has jumped from around $30,000 a week to more than $50,000 last week, the most sales it’s seen since the hype around the Ghost Gunner’s initial launch 20 months ago.
Those are basically cheap CNC mills that are the same as what's used to machine every metal prototype part in the world, so those can't be banned without bringing new product innovation all over the world to a complete halt.

So congratulations anti-gun people. You have now guaranteed that not only can the AR-15 never be eradicated (and it never could've been), you've also guaranteed that any criminal and/or would be terrorist can make an untraceable AR-15 cheaply and easily no matter what future legislation is enacted.

I'm guessing that's a good example of an unintended consequence.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Guess I'm Callous

I was shaken when the aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. It thrust the world into a unknown state. Were more big attacks coming? What was our reaction going to be? Was it going to dramatically alter our well-being and lifestyle? What was it going to take for New York to recover? And, yeah, I felt bad for the dead and their families and friends.

I no longer feel bad for the dead from mass shootings (and the families and friends). That's at least partly because I've been desensitized. And partly because, well, I don't have time to feel bad for everyone that dies.

Approximately 7,000 people die in the United States each day from all causes. Each day, several dozen people are murdered. Twice as many are wounded from attempted murder each day.

Forty-nine people were killed in a nightclub in Orlando. I don't have it in me to feel more for them than the other 7,000 people who died that day or the other dozens of anonymous people who were murdered across the country that day. The dead in Orlando don't feel more special to me. I don't know why I don't feel more since they apparently do feel more special to virtually everybody else in the entire country.

It's interesting to look at the reactions of others from my detached state. The two big hot button issues that were pressed by the Orlando shooting are the role of Islam in events such as these and the role of gun control or the lack thereof.

Within seconds (maybe minutes) of the news breaking, people began to use the event to further their agendas in these areas. Others were saying things like, "how can you use a tragedy like this to further a political agenda?" My response is that there's no better time. If you have a weak or subjective position, using a time when people are all upset and emotional is by far the best time to advance your agenda because they're not thinking straight.

Let's start with guns and gun control. On one hand, the guy put a lot of bullets into a lot of people with a gun, so those in favor of control can use this incident to claim that gun control is critically important. And if we refuse to get rid of all guns and bullets, then let's at least get rid of those particularly scary looking guns like the AR-15 that was used at the Orlando nightclub. And after such an incident is a really great time to make such an argument because objectively, it makes no sense whatsoever; consider the following table (via Marginal Revolution):

Only 248 of 11,961 murders were perpetrated using rifles (plus some fraction of "type not stated") and that includes "assault" rifles like the AR-15. Banning assault rifles will simply make no noticeable difference at all in the number of gun murders and it's a foolish thing to focus on if reducing murder is the goal. But if banning AR-15s is your thing, then using this incident and people's emotional response is a really good idea.

On the other side (the anti-gun control side), we have people noting that the nightclub was a gun free zone. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that having drinking establishments be "gun-free" might actually be a good idea since people don't always make the best decisions when drunk and some people are quite violent under the influence. Some have suggested the compromise that non-drinking folks should be allowed to carry in drinking establishments and that seems at least a little more reasonable to me. Yet it's not clear it would've made much of a difference. There was an armed security guard at the nightclub and he didn't even slow the gunman down. These things are going to continue to happen and there's not much that can be done to stop them.

Now, onto Islam. Omar Mateen was crazy, completely deranged, totally nuts. To me, that's the fundamental explanation of why he did the totally insane thing of shooting up a nightclub. To claim this was caused by Islam seems misguided to me. To claim that restricting immigration would prevent stuff like this is even weaker given that he was a U.S. born citizen. At best, restricting immigration now might prevent something like this in several decades.

On the other hand, I don't think Islam is quite completely free of culpability.

It is true that vast swaths of Christianity are at least uncomfortable with homosexuality. And it's also true that some christian clergy in the United States have called for killing homosexuals. But there are more than a half-million clergy in the United States and only a tiny handful are that extreme and out of a half-million people some are statistically going to be crazy. The rest of those uncomfortable with homosexuality are more the "hate the sin, love the sinner" types or at least don't go around calling for the execution of gays.

Compare that to the fact that 100 million people live in Muslim countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. In other words, killing gays is simply much more mainstream in the Muslim world than in countries that are predominantly Christian.

So if you're a deranged lunatic who happens to be Muslim, the voices whispering in your head from all over the world are kinda gonna be egging you on to kill gay people instead of holding you back. That's a problem, perhaps one with no solution, but I can't ignore the fact that people immigrating from those countries have been exposed to and grown up in an environment that I consider to be relatively barbaric. I don't find that thought to be comforting.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Too Busy to be Decadent

Via BrothersJudd we learn that kids these days take fewer risks than previous generations:
The troubles with kids these days ... are not as common as they used to be. U.S. teens are having a lot less sex, they are drinking and using drugs less often, and they aren't smoking as much, according a government survey of risky youth behaviors. 
"I think you can call this the cautious generation," said Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The cautious generation? Yeah, right. The article puts forward what I think is a more likely hypothesis towards the bottom:
One possibility, Albert said: "It may be that parking at Lookout Point has given way to texting from your mom's living room couch," he said. 
In the new survey, about 42 percent said they played video or computer games or used a computer for something that was not school work for more than three hours per day on an average school day.
Boredom has always been a major factor behind smoking, drinking, sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. At least that was true for my generation. And boredom has been mostly obliterated by the Internet, social media, and the plethora of online entertainment. Kids simply don't have time and motivation for the illegal and immoral activities of old.

A hilarious take on this is presented in Millennials Have Discovered 'Going Out' Sucks (WARNING: LOTS OF OBSCENITIES). Here's an excerpt:
But really, what this completely real trend the Post has identified shows is that millennials have cracked the code. For most of human history, young people have spent a good chunk of their lives going "out," which mainly meant getting f-----d up on mead or some mildly poisonous herb, then having sex with a stranger, waking up in a field, or both. Youths are always derided for this by the older generations, who claim that in their day the herbs were less poisonous and the outdoor coitus less brazen. [...] 
But millennials—if you believe the Post, and why wouldn't you?—are skipping past all that ...
 The article concludes with:
You know what's great? Sitting around and watching TV. Have you tried it? You get to wear comfortable clothes, summon whatever food you want via phone and eat it with your hands, go to bed when you choose—for most of the humans who have ever lived, this generation's typical night in represents an impossible pinnacle of luxury. People used to worry about stuff like drought, famine, and a new band of men with swords riding into town. Don't underestimate the simple luxuries of a glass of wine, a roof overhead, and a screen that can show you anything you can imagine.
Too True That. Too True.

Of course, if nobody goes out and drinks excessive mead and has sex, might this be not only the cautious generation but also the last generation?

Friday, June 10, 2016

What's an Animal to Do...

...when desperate?

Find a human to save you, of course!
An injured bull elephant named Ben made his way to the Bumi Hills Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe, in what appears to be a search for help.

The staff at Bumi Hills were very surprised to see Ben, as it is not common for elephants to walk right up to human homes.

Unfortunately, Ben wasn't just popping in to say hello.

Manager Nick Milne realized the 30-year-old elephant was limping and appeared to be severely wounded. [...]

The staff tranquilized Ben and found a deep wound in his shoulder, likely from a poacher's bullet, as well as two more bullet holes in one of his ears.
They were able to clean and disinfect Ben's injuries, and he is now healing on the property, outfitted with a tracking device so the foundation can monitor his improvement.
With the help of his human friends, Ben was lucky to have survived two attacks on his life.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Concentrating the Mind

Germany Charges 4 Syrians in Plot to Attack Düsseldorf

BERLIN — The German police arrested three Syrians on Thursday who are suspected of traveling to Europe on behalf of the Islamic State to attack a popular district of the western city of Düsseldorf, federal prosecutors said.

A fourth man, also a Syrian citizen who is in custody in France, was charged with supporting the plot. The plan involved suicide bombings, as well as attacks with firearms and explosives, the prosecutors said.

At least two of the suspects entered Germany during last year’s influx of refugees, the prosecutors said. German news media reported that two of the men had been living in refugee shelters and at least one had submitted an application for asylum.

Prosecutors said Saleh A. and Hamza C. joined the Islamic State in early 2014 in Syria, where they were ordered by leaders of the organization to carry out an attack in an area of Düsseldorf that is packed with bars and cafes and is popular with residents and partying tourists.

Like all the other horrors in the seemingly endless abattoir that is Islamism, the Paris attacks, San Bernardino, and Brussels, provoked widespread outrage.

While unsurprising, it is nonetheless striking how much more focussed that outrage becomes when the threat is practically in one's neighborhood. In the picture below, the Altstadt, the intended target, is directly to the right of the Rhine River freighter.

The Altstadt is perfect for tourists and residents. Picturesque. Lots of restaurants, stores and bars. Always crowded if the weather isn't beastly.

I guess that makes it perfect for Allah's faithful murderers, too.

Four friends of ours live there. Less than a mile from our apartment, we go there frequently. So while the litany of other atrocities is immersed in a vague, blurry buffer, no such comfort is on offer here. It is all too easy to imagine a wonderful area I know well turned into a charnel house.

By the Religion of Peace™.

This reminded me of a post from more than six years ago, Enhanced Condemnation:

No small amount of writing, and plenty of writers, have made the bold claim that torture is always, irrevocably, wrong, and that those who sanction it are, by definition, moral monsters. Oddly, they take this bold stand without coming to terms with their subject, giving a nod to context, or recognizing that the sin of commission must be assessed against the sin of omission.

What they arrive at is a position with precisely the same supposed lofty superiority of pacifism, while completely failing to understand how such blanket condemnations, just like pacifism, are completely amoral.

In the comments on my post, and in the links, I was accused of moral deficiency by suggesting that blanket condemnations of "torture" (scare quotes, because the term has all the definitional rigor of "art") are facile moral preening.

Having captured these suspects, I wonder how much "sweating" of other suspects was involved. Just as I wonder how much some people — relatives of the victims, perhaps — wish a bit more "sweating" had happened before the Brussels atrocity.

Interesting how one's view on things might change with a bit of skin in the game.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Science, Faith and Little Gods

In my opinion, many relevant questions and problems are so complex, often containing mountains of conflicting, orthogonal, and only partially relevant information, that no human or group of humans can or will ever be able to understand the problems, much less "solve" them. One large class of such problems are those which involve the interaction of science (especially "soft" sciences like social science and the "dismal science" that is economics) with politics/policy. Even if the science produces knowledge with a high degree of accuracy and confidence, how that knowledge affects the 7+ billion people inhabiting earth and how to optimize policy to take into account their dreams, desires, preferences and fears is an insurmountably difficult task.

I often cringe when I hear folks say things like, "because scientists/economists/experts say so, we should enact certain policies and anybody who disagrees is clearly stupid, ignorant and/or a denier of science." One of the most famous quotes along those lines is by Richard Dawkins:

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that).
Science has been used to amass the evidence and knowledge upon which theories of evolution have been built. Those theories in turn, are works in progress, like most scientific knowledge, and will continue to be updated and refined over time. Evolution is a good example of the scientific method in action and may even be closely related to the actual explanation of the trajectory of the biosphere during the existence of life on this planet. But that isn't enough for Dawkins - I'm required to "believe in" evolution and I simply don't.

Now I want to introduce a term (from
the uncritical application of scientific or quasi-scientific methods to inappropriate fields of study or investigation
I'm also going to add my (non-standard) definition and assume when I use the word below that I'm referring to this definition:
the belief that a large percentage of all personal and collective decisions should be based on science and/or analyses of empirical evidence
Note that the two definitions are not in conflict.

Evolution provides a good example. It's science to build theories like evolution. It's scientism to insist that people "believe in" the theory or even that this particular theory ought to be taught in schools. I realize that the latter half of the previous sentence is a very contentious statement, but ask yourself this: given that only a tiny fraction of useful science is taught in school (there's simply not enough time to teach it all), why is it so important that that particular bit of science be taught to the exclusion of something else? And note I'm not talking about DNA, RNA, genetic encoding of information and inheritance, and all of the other knowledge that's loosely related to evolution, I'm only talking about evolution, which, by itself, really isn't particularly useful for much of anything at all.

It's science to explore the relationship between the diffusion of various isotopes of oxygen and the diffusion of heat in ice cores from Antarctica in order to be able to put error bars on the historical temperature record in that locale. It's scientism to create laws that restrict people from discussing skepticism regarding the impact of global warming. It's also scientism to tell people how to live in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

It's science to understand genetic inheritance via DNA. It's scientism to decide to create a eugenics program in order to improve human genetics as has been done in the past.

It's science (sort of) to create models that retroactively can predict economic trends and events. It's scientism to craft policies with wide impact based on those models.

In other words, scientism is a quasi-religious view that takes scientific knowledge and strives to make it the basis of societal organization. Remember those dreams, desires, preferences, and fears I mentioned above? Nuh uh, not allowed or at least heavily discounted by scientismists (those that use scientism) as the basis for their outlook. Of course, I rather suspect that whatever the scientismists' preferences are just happen to align with that which they happen learn from science.

Since these problems are complex beyond human capacity for comprehension, scientism can be thought of as sort of a "folk-science" that relies on networks of people with similar beliefs:
There are many religious views that are not the product of common-sense ways of seeing the world. Consider the story of Adam and Eve, or the virgin birth of Christ, or Muhammad ascending to heaven on a winged horse. These are not the product of innate biases. They are learned, and, more surprisingly, they are learned in a special way. 
To come to accept such religious narratives is not like learning that grass is green or that stoves can be hot; it is not like picking up stereotypes or customs or social rules. Instead, these narratives are acquired through the testimony of others, from parents or peers or religious authorities. Accepting them requires a leap of faith, but not a theological leap of faith. Rather, a leap in the mundane sense that you must trust the people who are testifying to their truth. [...] 
Many religious narratives are believed without even being understood. People will often assert religious claims with confidence—there exists a God, he listens to my prayers, I will go to Heaven when I die—but with little understanding, or even interest, in the details. The sociologist Alan Wolfe observes that “evangelical believers are sometimes hard pressed to explain exactly what, doctrinally speaking, their faith is,” and goes on to note that “These are people who believe, often passionately, in God, even if they cannot tell others all that much about the God in which they believe.” 
People defer to authorities not just to the truth of the religious beliefs, but their meaning as well. In a recent article, the philosopher Neil Van Leeuwen calls these sorts of mental states “credences,” and he notes that they have a moral component. We believe that we should accept them, and that others—at least those who belong to our family and community—should accept them as well. 
None of this is special to religion. Researchers have studied those who have strong opinions about political issues and found that they often literally don’t know what they are talking about. Many people who take positions on cap and trade, for instance, have no idea what cap and trade is. Similarly, many of those who will insist that America spends too much, or too little, on foreign aid, often don’t know how much actually is spent, as either an absolute amount or proportion of GDP. These political positions are also credences, and one who holds them is just like someone who insists that the Ten Commandments should be the bedrock of morality, but can’t list more than three or four of them. [...] 
Many scientific views endorsed by non-specialists are credences as well. Some people reading this will say they believe in natural selection, but not all will be able to explain how natural selection works. (As an example, how does this theory explain the evolution of the eye?) It turns out that those who assert the truth of natural selection are often unable to define it, or, worse, have it confused with some long-rejected pre-Darwinian notion that animals naturally improve over time.

But much of what’s in our heads are credences, not beliefs we can justify—and there’s nothing wrong with this. Life is too brief; there is too much to know and not enough time. We need epistemological shortcuts.

Given my day job, I know something about psychology and associated sciences, but if you press me on the details of climate change, or the evidence about vaccines and autism, I’m at a loss. I believe that global warming is a serious problem and that vaccines do not cause autism, but this is not because I have studied these issues myself.

It is because I trust the scientists.
And there's the rub. I'm an extremely untrusting person and I don't trust scientists either. I especially don't trust people advocating for various policies and as soon as a scientist or group of scientists do that, I simply don't trust anything they say. In other words, I have no "faith" in them.

That's not to say I don't ever rely on experts. As Arnold Kling points out, we are all hugely dependent on expertise in this day and age:
I have faith in experts. Every time I go to the store, I am showing faith in the experts who design, manufacture, and ship products. 
Every time I use the services of an accountant, an attorney, or a dentist, I am showing faith in their expertise. Every time I donate to a charity, I am showing faith in the expertise of the organization to use my contributions effectively. 
In fact, I would say that our dependence on experts has never been greater. It might seem romantic to live without experts and instead to rely solely on your own instinct and know-how, but such a life would be primitive.
Once again, the problem is when expertise is linked to politics and power:
Expertise becomes problematic when it is linked to power. First, it creates a problem for democratic governance. The elected officials who are accountable to voters lack the competence to make well-informed decisions. And, the experts to whom legislators cede authority are unelected. The citizens who are affected by the decisions of these experts have no input into their selection, evaluation, or removal. 
A second problem with linking expertise to power is that it diminishes the diversity and competitive pressure faced by the experts. 
A key difference between experts in the private sector and experts in the government sector is that the latter have monopoly power, ultimately backed by force. The power of government experts is concentrated and unchecked (or at best checked very poorly), whereas the power of experts in the private sector is constrained by competition and checked by choice. Private organizations have to satisfy the needs of their constituents in order to survive. Ultimately, private experts have to respect the dignity of the individual, because the individual has the freedom to ignore the expert.
Because of the power, I call scientismists with access to political power "Little Gods." Most have at least a bit of a "Savior Complex," that is the need to change society to help people. That sounds like a good thing but there are some inherent problems with it. The first problem is that there is a fine line between he who helps people who may not even be particularly interested in that help and a meddlesome busybody. But the main problem is that they are playing god.

There is no policy ever that helps everybody. There are always winners and losers with every change and the Little God therefore actively creates losers. The Little God decides that hurting one person or group to help another is worth it and that is a position of great responsibility and power - in other words, the power of a Little God.

When they do so "Because Science!" they've turned science completely into a religion in service of being a Little God.