The Arbitrary Roles Of The Sciences

While we like to imagine the realm of science as one that is most aligned and synonymous with reality, the fact is that all of our sciences are cultural constructs and artifacts. The sciences attempt to study reality, but they are constructed by mere mortals, subject to flawed thinking, biases, and limited by what the scientists’ cultures impose on them.

For an easy example of this, consider that all sorts of sciences routinely excluded the female half the population from “carefully controlled” experiments -on a wide variety of topics (ranging from heart disease to stress to pain to brain functions to psychological responses, etc) due to flawed assumptions about gender. This still is an issue, not yet fully rectified. While this example of gender bias in scientific study nicely mirrors our current cultural state, it also shows that what and how scientists choose to study does not mirror objective reality.

My point is that since science is created by mere mortals, what we study and how we study it reflects our human biases and psychologies. Areas of study are included or ignored based on current cultural beliefs, values, assumptions, mores and norms. It takes paradigm shifts to see the world in different ways.

Currently, the theory of Cultural PTSD does not fit neatly into Anthropology or Sociology or Psychology or any of its subfields like organizational psychology, but it is informed by all of those fields, and more. The sub field of traumatology in psychology has thankfully exploded in the past couple of decades. Prior to that time though, there was little emphasis on the study of trauma. That history books and teachers can casually recite that “…there were between 40 and 80 million deaths in World War II” without dwelling on the enormity of that fact is a testament to how much avoiding we do of processing the impact of trauma. There is more detail about theses ideas in the book.