One commenter suggests that an untestable hypothesis must consequently be classified as either 'myth' or 'garbage'. (He did not tell us how to test this very suggestion. I can only assume he was storytelling.) Another calls Bostrom's argument "pseudoscience gibberish". Yet another chimes in:
This is very much like saying the earth might really be only 3000 years old and $DEVIL just made it seem like its much older to fool everyone.
IOW, it is all hocus pocus claptrap what ifs and doesn’t belong in any science discussion.
The blogger (Peter Woit) himself writes:
I don’t see what the problem is with “lumping Bostrom’s ideas in with religion”. They’re not science and have similar characteristics: grandiose speculation about the nature of the universe which some people enjoy discussing for one reason or another, but that is inherently untestable, and completely divorced from the actual very interesting things that we have learned about the universe through the scientific method.
Really, if people can't tell the difference between a reasoned philosophical argument and random "hocus pocus" or religious proposals... well, let's just say it's further evidence of the urgent need for philosophical education in schools!
If you think that Bostrom's argument is flawed, then by all means put on your philosopher's hat and expose its errors. But this requires actually engaging with the argument. To dismiss it just because it didn't involve any labwork is the worst kind of scientism.
I should add a disclaimer. Sometimes people attack "scientism" when their real target is epistemic standards in general. (See the comments here, for example.) Not me. I'm all in favour of having rationally justified beliefs. What I'm attacking here is the lazy assumption that science is the only source of rational justification. This assumption is simply false (and indeed self-defeating). This should be too obvious for words, but apparently it needs to be said: rigorous philosophical argumentation can also provide rational support for a conclusion.
Hat-tip: Robin Hanson (who offers some incisive criticism of his own).
See also: Explaining Beliefs. (It's the same core issue, really: dogmatic dismissal is no replacement for reasoned inquiry. You can't tell whether a question is answerable until you try.)