In order to understand the issues with objectivity we should first look at how the concept and definition have changed over time.
What they used to mean…
Objective – The measurable qualities of an object.
Subjective – The qualities of relationship between object, observer and environment.
What they have come to mean…
Objective – Absolutely true beyond individual observation, perception and analysis.
Subjective – Just, like, your opinion, man.
As a method of empirical investigation, objectivity is the best possible attempt to create a reliable map of reality based on consensus. A map that gives us the best predictive power for future navigation of the territory. That map, however, is not the territory.
The modern thinking about objectivity is that it is an infallible method that produces absolutely True results. Those things which we say are objective have come to be endowed with an ideological faith in their eternal certainty. Even though we cannot measure anything all throughout spacetime, we have come to belief that our small snapshot of it from this perspective in place and time can be assumed to be true everywhere forever so long as it is ‘objective’.
There are many problems with this belief system, and make no mistake, it is just that.
Most obviously, in the dichotomy in which objective means absolutely and subjective means merely personally, we have a self-refuting axiom. If I am only able to recognize subjective truths through my individual powers of perception and analysis, then how could I ever verify something outside of the subjective realm? Objectivity, by the logic of objectivists, should be beyond my ability to observe, identify and verify. If there are objective truths, then what objective process outside of our own minds can we use to verify them?
The answer generally given is consensus. If many of us observe the same thing, the properties of the thing we agree upon must be true. Yet this is irrational for a number of reasons. If we start from the premise that our minds -the instrument of observation, measurement and conclusion- are unreliable due to their subjective nature, then we cannot fix the problem by overlapping unreliable constructs. This is like taking a hundred broken and randomly set clocks and attempting to determine the actual time throughout the day based on an average of their readings.
The assumption that something beyond individual experience can be determined through democratic means is rooted in our cultural bias that might makes right and that the majority view is always the truth. Nevermind that we already understand the psychology of mass hysteria, groupthink and crowd behavior. When it comes to covering up the existential dread of uncertainty we are willing to ignore our proclivity towards group ignorance. When it confirms our biases and validates our egos, we are willing to overlook all of the obvious issues with any version of Absolute Truth.
Often the reasoning given to validate objectivity is that it produces positive results. This is flawed as well. Star charts made by people who believed the earth was at the center of the universe produced positive navigation results. Long after Einsteins theory of general relativity unraveled Newtonian physics, those physics are still being used to produce positive results. The ability to produce positive results does not prove a central premise. That is reverse engineering Absolute Truth from the faulty premise of result-orientated pragmatism.
Our government and media have profited most from this mass delusion. By defining what constitutes truth they are able to control it and use it as a tool of manipulation. By assigning absolutes they narrow the field of possibilities to make their own agendas seem favorable or necessary. The myth of objectivity is the most powerful ideological tool today in preventing critical thinking, individual autonomy and competition. It is a tool of monopolizing information and knowledge.
And even more insidious is that we are conditioned to feel inordinate amounts of pride and satisfaction in thinking what we are told to think, by having those majority opinions rewarded and validated by experts, officials and authoritarians. When you continually reassure people that what they believe is true, there becomes no reason to question it, especially not when it is made to appear that everyone either believes the same thing as you or is a total nutjob.
Objectivism is just a form of consensus gathering. It is an ideological net that is used to ensnare people in the ideas and agendas of those who are able to control and manipulate them most effectively. It is far easier to get people to believe you if they have faith in your method of conclusions then it is to make them believe all of your conclusions independently based on their own merits.
You can sell lots of cereal if you tell your consumers it stays crunchy in milk, even if they all know in their hearts and mouths that it takes about eight bites for the remainder to turn to soggy mush. Objectivism is proving the claim by only considering those first eight bites as evidence.