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September 17, 2008

Comments

Rob

Science isn't simply a 'belief system' to these moonbats - it is also sometimes a weapon. A weapon to be used, for example, to club global warming 'deniers', when the Left suddenly become complete believers in the validity of Science. Then, poof!, when it suits them Science suddenly becomes a 'belief system' again, no better or worse (though in 'reality', of course, much much worse as it is a "male construct") than any other.

I don't know whether this state of mind is just cynical opportunism or the derangement of Orwell's Doublethink.

Rob

It is tempting to laugh at these maniacs, but the problem is recent history has shown us that the bonkers ideas of extremists, especially in academia, slowly leak into the mainstream like a toxic spillage. In twenty years time we will have a female cabinet minister chucking money at 'science' like this, and no-one will think it is strange.

On the other hand, given current trends the idea of a female cabinet minister in twenty years time is somewhat farfetched. the Left's fetish with Islam will cut their own throats.

TDK

"What we were taught as logic is simply what we were taught and thus not logical"

How does she know?

---

On a more serious note. I would be prepared to acknowledge that science presupposes certain assumptions. However that is not to say that those assumptions cannot be questioned. The whole point of Godel was to negate certain assumptions and then see what happened. His initial objective was to prove using reductio ad absurdum that Mathematical Axioms were true. He proved something else entirely. His story illustrates the fact that science is not a comparable belief system to religion - there are no sacred cows.

David

TDK,

“However that is not to say that those assumptions cannot be questioned.”

Exactly. The scientific method, and logic generally, provides a framework within which assumptions *can* be tested. That’s pretty much the point.

Rob

"What we were taught as logic is simply what we were taught and thus not logical"

I missed that first time. What a scatty heap of shit that is. If this airheaded, closeminded fool was taught 2+2=4, would she say that it was therefore not logical?

How insane do you have to be to believe this crap? Does it affect the normal, mechanical taks in life, such as tieing up one's shoes or driving a car?

Anna

"What we were taught as logic is simply what we were taught and thus not logical..."

And thus! :D

Wow - all that "questioning" and "confronting" really paid off, didn't it?

David

“…all that ‘questioning’ and ‘confronting’ really paid off, didn’t it?”

I’m sure there was a bit of “interrogating” and “deconstructing” too.

Paul

On a related note - and I know it's not the done thing to ask these kinds of questions - why is that whenever there's irrational bullshit being peddled, women usually make up the majority of the people willing to lap it up? That is, things like astrology, homeopathic medicine, palm-reading, ghosties, reiki... the list is endless. Or is it just the women I hang about with?

David

Paul,

I’ve no idea what the gender breakdown of astrology enthusiasts is, or homeopathy, etc., so I don’t know if that’s true. In terms of Sandra Harding’s “feminist empiricism” and “science studies” generally, the subject matter seems inherently reactive and tendentious and perhaps attracts a certain type of personality or political leaning, whether male or female. Andrew Ross, for instance, is scarcely more coherent or inclined to support his arguments.

Paul

"I’ve no idea what the gender breakdown of astrology enthusiasts is, or homeopathy, etc., so I don’t know if that’s true."

Nor me. Which is why I added the 'just the women I hang about with' bit. It's just a general - and undoubtedly bigoted - observation on my part. And I am talking about ordinary, on the factory/office floor, people - not media commentators, journalists, academics or other rarefied types. E.g., I shudder when I recall how I was shouted down by a gang of around twenty women I used to work with who all suggested that my pooh-poohing of their belief in palm-reading was just a result of my contrary nature and close-mindedness. Again, I know that this personal anecdote doesn't necesarily mean much....

John D

"and undoubtedly bigoted"

It's only bigoted if it's untrue. :)

Lovernios

"What we were taught as logic is simply what we were taught and thus not logical..."

Whatever logic she was taught, it certainly wasn't learned. Seems like a 'taughtology' to me.

carbon based lifeform

That Harry Enfield clip killed me. Still laughing.

David

Well, it does seem surprisingly in tune with the argument quoted above – that logic is some kind of masculine, patriarchal contrivance and that women have something more “wholistic” and fluffy.

Paul

"That Harry Enfield clip killed me. Still laughing."

Paul Whitehouse's face at 0:53 does it for me.

Julien

It's striking that the academic left and the religious right use the same relativist arguments against scientific inquiry. That evolutionary theory is just another "belief system" is a mantra for the creationists, too, in their endless attempts to inject mythology into biology classes. I wish both groups would get together and test whether the theory of gravity is just a belief system by jumping off a very high bridge.

David

A variation of the above is advanced by Nancy Hopkins and Virginia Valian, both of whom claim that science needs to be made less competitive and achievement-orientated in order for women to succeed. I’d have thought this line of argument would be patronising to female scientists, but perhaps I’m out of step with academic fashion.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/03/science-softene.html

Julien

Competition is just another word for phallocentrism, David.

In all seriousness, though, I'd love to see Hopkins and Valian explain their views to the women scientists I've known, all of whom would, I am confident, respond with derisive laughter and a barnyard epithet or two.

David

And you do have to respect a woman who can wield a barnyard epithet.

rxc

If you want some evidence about women and their proclivity for the "softer sciences", you need look no further than the popular press that is aimed at women, especially the genre that is aimed at the more educated women, and focuses on "health" and "well being". They are filled with advertisements from the pharma industry and articles about the latest "study" that shows that you will live longer, lose weight, have a better relationship, or have better skin if you just include some particular nutraceutical/food in your diet, or alternatively, if you avoid some particular food. These magazines feed on soft science in that they depend on the results of studies that meet no statistical significance test, and are about making women "feel better" about themselves.

If they help some women, then more power to them. However, I don't think you will see many male scientists who take anything in them seriously.

billm99uk

Reminds me of the point Michael Shermer made in "Why People Believe Weird Things" that while women and men are both equally represented among avid believers in the pseudosciences, they tend to each go for different types of pseudoscience. Thus, while Paul is stuck in a lift with a bunch of psychotic female palm-readers there are meetings of creationists, Holocaust "revisionists" or UFOlogists out there where barely any women will be seen at all. At least so says Shermer and I don't feel much like doing the research to prove him wrong. I guess Holocaust denial isn't "fluffy" enough for the poor dears....

Mr Eugenides

This is just a joy from start to finish.

One question, though - and I know it's not very masculine to admit one's deficiencies - but what does "wholistically" mean?

David

Mr E,

I’m guessing it’s a variation of holism (as opposed to, say, reductionism). Though what weight that adds to the lady’s point isn’t clear to me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holism

Or perhaps it’s just a hippie codeword for “uterus” or “feelings” or “society” or something.

dicentra

"what does "wholistically" mean?"

Either it's a moronic spelling of "holistically," which already contains the meaning of "whole" (the two words do not share the same etymology), or it's Yet Another Academic Shibboleth to distinguish the Brahmans from the Untouchables.

Φ

"And the willingness to defer to evidence – as opposed to one’s own preferences – is the antithesis of fundamentalism, whether religious or political."

The implication here is that the essence of fundamentalism is adhering to one's own preferences in the teeth of the evidence.

But while I can't speak to "political" fundamentalism, I'm pretty sure that the essence of religious fundamentalism is adherence to the authority of specific religious texts. Such fundamentalists CAN be swayed by the evidence -- but that evidence must come from religious authority (i.e. textual) rather than scientific authority (i.e. experimental). This isn't quite the same thing as getting to believe what you want.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I think it's amazing that Larry Summers got run out of Harvard for being a mean old sexist for saying men's and women's brains may have different aptitudes in the sciences. Meanwhile at the bleeding edge of feminism, this chick is saying the same thing. If only Summers had used proper jargon, he'd still have a job.

steveaz

David,
RE the humility-inducing powers of the scientific method: properly written scientific papers always contain an "Errors" section. This section explains any anomalies in the data or the experiment.

It may also suggest changes to the original hypothesis (heaven forbid).

The forced second-guessing and "devil's advocacy" that goes into this section trains the scientific-writer to deal honestly with uncertainty.

I think that is what we call Humility.

John V

"there are no sacred cows."
Unless it's global warming.


Science and logic are truths or methods to find a truth. It's not belief, it's knowledge and fact. It's what comforts us when everything else is getting just too stupid to bear. Like the rantings of a feminist lunatic who believes her readers or audience are as misinformed as she is.

David

Φ,

“The implication here is that the essence of fundamentalism is adhering to one's own preferences in the teeth of the evidence. […] Such fundamentalists CAN be swayed by the evidence -- but that evidence must come from religious authority (i.e. textual) rather than scientific authority (i.e. experimental). This isn't quite the same thing as getting to believe what you want.”

Well, there are different forms of religious fundamentalism, but just about all of them start with a presumption that one can know in intimate detail the alleged preferences of a hypothetical deity via texts written and rewritten by hundreds of human beings, some of whom may have claimed to hear voices from above. In itself, this is a fairly adamant position and not enormously amenable to rational discussion. I’d regard such a position as indulging oneself, albeit in a circuitous way. And even the most punctilious literalists tend to filter the textual “evidence” as suits. Passages regarding punishments and dietary restrictions, for instance, are quite popular, while less exciting topics often pass unremarked and unobserved. A literalist couldn’t observe *all* of the contradictory imperatives found in, say, the Bible or Qur’an, so someone is obviously *choosing* which to find important.

julie

it's moonbats like this that make the idea of a sex change attractive (for me) ....

bgc

"what does "wholistically" mean?"

It's the womanly -- or should that be womanier?* -- version of holistically. It's clearly much better than the vanilla version because it's been "gendered" in a virtuous way.

(There is a frightening possibility that this is actually the true explanation.)

* Do these words need capitals?

georges

Well, Sarah Palin believes in the "talking snake" theory, because the "textual evidence" says there was a talking snake. And she may well be given the nuclear codes.

alan b

"Well, Sarah Palin believes in the "talking snake" theory"

Says who, Matt Damon? Source please - in her own words.

David

Georges & Alan,

Here’s a handy debunking of oft-repeated Sarah Palin rumours. Number 81 seems vaguely relevant to the above:

http://explorations.chasrmartin.com/2008/09/06/palin-rumors/

Beyond obvious parodies and lurid assumptions, I can’t find any reference to a literal belief in talking snakes. I suspect a belief in God as described, metaphorically, in the Bible is being confused with a belief that the Bible is literally true in its entirety. So far as I know, Palin doesn’t subscribe to the latter position.

More here:

http://www.audacityofhypocrisy.com/2008/09/07/sarah-palin-rumors-debunked/

KB Player

"Reminds me of the point Michael Shermer made in "Why People Believe Weird Things" that while women and men are both equally represented among avid believers in the pseudosciences, they tend to each go for different types of pseudoscience. Thus, while Paul is stuck in a lift with a bunch of psychotic female palm-readers there are meetings of creationists, Holocaust "revisionists" or UFOlogists out there where barely any women will be seen at all."

Palm-reading, tea-leaf-reading, crystal balls and astrology are about your own personal destiny. Creationists, troofers, UFOlogists are impersonal and about the world in general. Just as in general women will talk about love affairs and men will talk about sport.

You'd think though that for that reason palm reading etc would be easier to disprove, since you would have immediate knowledge of things predicted not happening.

Tom

Stupid bitch

rabbit

"Ah yes - logic is a ‘certain’ (male, patriarchal, phallic, linear, hierarchical, situated, constructed, stupid, wrong, smelly) line of thinking, and women have attempted to confront it, because women have something different, and better, than mere ‘logic’. Women have - uh - holistic (or do I mean wholistic), different, better womanier stuff."

Well exactly. Women, with their delicate reproductive organs and maternal instincts, are not suited for the harsh reductionist logic of modern science. Best they not worry their pretty little heads over it.

That ought to put feminism back a century or so.

dinosaur

To think if they shut them down the taxpayers could have wasted the money on trained doctors. But they are just social constructs so who cares. One wonders if the money they get is a mere social construct will they mind if the social construct IE money, no longer exists.


Budgets are all rape manuals are they not take away their budget to fight for social justice.

ZZMike

Sandra Harding: I haven't heard about her, yet. I'm still laughing over Luce Irigaray (she of "Is Science Sexed?", and who complained that the speed of light is somehow "privileged" by the white-old-male oligarchy in science.

Where do these people come from?

I maintain that there can be no such thing as a "feminist philosopher of science". And even if there were, the term "philosopher" is a bit lofty for one like Harding to take on. Russell, Whitehead and Socrates were philosophers. She is not.

Someone pointed out (John Derbyshire, I think) that when Hilbert set forth his 23 problems that he'd like to see someone solve any time soon, it wasn't with the proviso that "at least half of them should be solved by women mathematicians". And you can add your own favorite oppressed group to that.


David Gillies

P. J. O'Rourke wrote that earnestness is stupidity gone to college. Here's the counter-example. This is just stupidity.

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