What do you call to a person who places dogmatic faith in the methods of science?

What is the agent noun (eg biologist for biology) corresponding to scientism? Here scientist would be confusing.

I'm looking for what I intuitively want to call "scientist", but that means the opposite of what I'm looking for.

  • 4
    By definition, the methods of science require no faith at all. So maybe the word you're looking for is "contradiction"? Dec 30, 2013 at 16:20
  • This is off the internet, but I don't think it needs attribution or debate: 'Of course science does not have all the answers. Yet science strives to find answers and then more answers.' So the 'methods of science' have not given us all the answers yet. So what is this 'faith' in? In the guess that we'll have sorted out ageing five minutes before the sun goes nova? Dec 30, 2013 at 16:25
  • 5
    Voting to leave this question open. It's possible no such word exists; that does not make this a bad question.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 30, 2013 at 20:47
  • 1
    @WS2: I think it's axiomatic that anyone who could in all seriousness use the words dogmatic faith in the methods of science has unusual ideas about what "science" actually represents. As should be quite obvious, I'm not a theist. But I wouldn't say that's because I'm a scientist. It's just that theism is both unnecessary and unpalatable to me. Dec 31, 2013 at 17:18

6 Answers 6


Though scientist is obviously the correct word, I doubt that's what you're looking for. Depending on the context, I occasionally use "empiricist", "positivist", "rationalist", or even (sadly) "verificationist" when I get tired of using "scientist."

  • 2
    Hello, jboneca. I think you're trying hard to answer a question that needs stating more clearly. Wikipedia defines Scientism (which is a dogma): Scientism is a term used to refer to belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints. And the agent noun (Scientismist?) doesn't seem to exist. Dec 30, 2013 at 16:44
  • 1
    I agree that the question should be stated more clearly, but I figured this was a nice underhand pitch for me to knock out of the park ;)
    – emsoff
    Dec 30, 2013 at 16:51
  • 2
    +1 - Brave soul. You picked this as your first question to answer? ;-) Dec 30, 2013 at 17:09
  • 4
    Hey, gotta start somewhere! For what it's worth, I have seen "scientismist" used in some of my research methods books. But that's such an absurd word.
    – emsoff
    Dec 30, 2013 at 17:23
  • 2
    Looks like a perfectly good objective answer to what I assume most people today would see as either a "loaded" or a subjective question. Another possibility might be reductionist, given that it's implicit in OP's question that there's something "bigger" and more complex/important than science (religion? morality?). Dec 30, 2013 at 17:29

What term refers to those who adhere to scientism?

To first clarify the question, "scientism" is the belief that the only valid way to understand the world is through application of the scientific method.

A scientist is a person who uses the scientific method to understand the world; a scientist need not believe that the scientific method is the only valid way to understand the world. And a believer in scientism need not actually practice science. So scientist is out.

Someone who is alleged to believe in scientism is, unfortunatly, said to be a scientismist, which is a terribly inelegant word. You might consider whether empiricist or logical positivist work in your context. I note also that an accusation of scientism is frequently pejorative in a way that an accusation of empiricism is not.

  • Thanks for the great answer! I do intend a pejorative accusation. In this case, which term would you use? Dec 31, 2013 at 4:30
  • 1
    I think logical positivist is much more fitting than empiricists for most people who adhere to scientism.
    – Christian
    Jul 21, 2015 at 15:08
  • Yes! Logical positivist. I've heard Stephen Hawking describe himself thus. Scientismist is too pejorative. For anyone who doesn't accept the truth of scientism, it's better to find some common ground to build bridges and improve understanding so we can all get along better. Any maybe some will grow and be persuaded to change their minds. As a scientist, I'm open to changing my mind about scientism. As it stands, though, I find Christianity to be a more complete and plausible explanation of reality. In a Venn diagram, all of science fits inside Christianity. :)
    – tbc0
    Apr 19, 2016 at 16:58

There doesn't seem to be a word in English that captures the sense that you are looking for.

One who uses the methods of science is called

a scientist.

One who places dogmatic faith in a system might be called

a dogmatist or dogmatic

Methods of science are usually synonymous with rationality, which includes the avoidance of dogma. But that doesn't preclude people from acting dogmatic about whatever belief system they have. Dogma means a set of rules that you must follow. The methods of science are methods that were found through experimentation and comparison with a common reality; some may learn those methods as rules and follow them dogmatically.

'Scientism' sounds to me like a variant of theosophy, Christian Science, or even scientology, and doesn't associate with dogmatic support of scientific methods.

So a single word doesn't work, but there are multi-word phrases or neologisms that might work:

dogmatic scientist, hyperrealist, hyperrational.

all of which give a negative light to the scientific part which is what you are looking for.


Perhaps the word needed is 'Cartesian' following Descartes. Another word is 'rationalism'. But we are on the edge of a vast philosophical debate here. If you are going to describe this person in the way you do, as 'one who puts their faith in the methods of science', you need to be more specific. As opposed to faith in what else? There are a multitude of philosophers, mostly of the Enlightenment period, who would approach the subject in different ways. I'm no expert, but I don't think the mere term 'scientism' would be accepted as having much descriptive validity among authorities on such figures as Kant, Descartes,Hume, and others. In short it is perhaps the type of question that could only be answered by taking an undergraduate degree in philosophy. Having said all that there does appear to be a comprehensive Wiki article on 'scientism' which may be worth reading.


scientismist SCI-EN-TISM-IST = Adherent of Scientism (Religion refuted by Science). Not to be confused with Mary Baker Eddy's CHRISTIAN SCIENCE or L. Ron Hubbard's SCIENTOLOGY. Scientismists are usually atheists or agnostics. Sometimes they are members of mainstream religious groups, but, with God and Scriptural stories being only symbolical, but not literal. Scientism is the view that the natural sciences are the only source of genuine knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society, employing the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable.

  • Concepts such as love, music, spirit, and joy vs. pleasure are difficult to substantively discuss within the language limits of only the empirically measurable. Apr 4, 2015 at 18:29
  • Yes, it's difficult as it's also difficult to discuss quantum mechanics, but it does not mean religions are better at discussing these concepts. By the way, there is a wealth of neuroscience about love and pleasure. Nov 14, 2022 at 19:17

In the absence of a conventional noun form, I would propose using the accepted adjectival form as a substantive: scientistic.

If the scientistic had saints, J. Evans Pritchard would be the patron of poetry.

Catholics are another example of adherents to an -ism not known as -ist s, even though Catholicist is not in common usage, and when discussing the intellectual movement of Romanticism, Romantic is accepted alongside Romanticist. The same applies for many movements named after people: we have Aristotelians, not Aristoteleanists, though the school is Aristotelianism.

Otherwise, as others have suggested, one would need to adopt another word as a synonym, hyperempiricist or whatnot.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.