Socialists and progressives who seek to remake society have typically claimed that their efforts have a scientific basis. Frequently, they accuse their conservative opponents of being anti-science. They dismiss the warnings of Burke, Hayek, and other conservative intellectuals who doubted the ability of the individual scientist-reformer to fully comprehend the social order he proposes to overthrow.
Ironically, there is a growing body of academic research that supports the conservative view of the social process. Thanks to work in a number of related fields, collected in some exceptionally important books published in just the past few years, it is becoming increasingly apparent that progress tends to arise from the evolution of decentralized trial-and-error processes more than from grand schemes launched by planners and revolutionaries.