I came across this word in an article by the Observer newspaper’s astrologist Neil Spencer in an attack on Richard Dawkins who had interviewed him and found his area of expertise wanting for his new TV show The Enemies of Reason on British Cannel 4 which I haven’t seen.
Spencer used the term scientism dismissively implying that people who live by reason and the scientific method are somehow lacking in aesthetic or spiritual vision and too literal in their interpretation of the world, and online dictionaries do give this as one definition.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source
sci·en·tism /ˈsaɪənˌtɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sahy-uhn-tiz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. the style, assumptions, techniques, practices, etc., typifying or regarded as typifying scientists.
2. the belief that the assumptions, methods of research, etc., of the physical and biological sciences are equally appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences.
3. scientific or pseudoscientific language.
[Origin: 1875–80; scient(ist) + -ism]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
Does OED have better than 1875-80 or if it was Brit or American? Was it a reaction to Darwin specifically?
The Spencer article is here http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2146775,00.html