Another Tweet Supports the March for Science

 
Me thinks this tweet says it all:

 

 

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11 Responses to Another Tweet Supports the March for Science

  1. Kevin says:

    That is literal gibberish.

  2. TFBW says:

    @Kevin: You just don’t speak the right dialect of Postmodern. “Intersectionality” only started to develop as a buzzword in the 1990s, and only then among people of a certain mindset, as is evident if you search for books with that term.

    Of course, if you’re postmodern, then Science is political, end of story. It’s a thoroughly modern idea that Science works towards truth. For the postmodern it’s all about competing narratives, and political struggle through control of the dominant narrative. Take that as an outsider’s understanding of the subject, though: I think the postmoderns would accuse me of being modern, and vice versa.

  3. Ilíon says:

    It’s a thoroughly modern idea that Science works towards truth.

    I don’t think that’s correct.

    It’s a pre-modern, which is to say, medieval, idea that “Science works towards truth”. The modern idea is that “Science works towards [control of “nature” and natural processes]” … to which truth is often irrelevant.

    The post-modernist just takes the modernist idea to its logical (yet irrational) conclusion, and applies it across the board and toward people.

  4. TFBW says:

    Maybe. I was thinking of “modern” as being more or less aligned with “positivist”, but there is something in what you say about “control”.

  5. FZM says:

    I found the account in this little book by Stephen Gaukroger (part of the OUP ‘Very Short Introductions’ series) of the difference between the Classical/Medieval idea of the pursuit of Truth and the idea of the pursuit of ‘objectivity’ that started to develop in the early modern period useful:

    https://global.oup.com/academic/product/objectivity-a-very-short-introduction-9780199606696?cc=us&lang=en&

    Unless the concept of intersectionality is a scientific discovery or derives from scientific research I am wondering why scientists marching qua scientists would want to have it as a core principal of a ‘March for Science’.

  6. TFBW says:

    Well, the whole “objectivity” thing isn’t a scientific discovery or derived from scientific research either: it’s a philosophy of science. That’s what’s potentially going to make for some interesting fireworks at this march: on the one hand, you have the dyed-in-the-wool objective types like Jerry Coyne who insist that science is science and it makes no difference what your gender, race, or politics; on the other hand you have an enormous rank and file of postmodern SJWs who insist that science is politics, and demand that there is a politically correct way to go about science. Jerry Coyne is rightly concerned that this thing is dominated by the latter mindset, and the whole thing won’t be a march for science so much as a march for a particular philosophy of science — one to which he is diametrically opposed (and yet it has nothing to do with religion).

    Cast an eye over the “reading list” referenced by that tweet. The titles alone are informative. I scanned the list to see if Feyerabend gets hauled in, and sure enough, there he is. I didn’t recognise the title, “The Tyranny of Science”, though, and was all set to beat myself up for my ignorance when I discovered that it’s a posthumous work compiled by someone else in 2011. Here’s a little excerpt from a review of it, which is somewhat apropos.

    The main themes of The Tyranny of Science seem to me to be as follows. Scientists and philosophers sometimes present science as a unified worldview, a monolith (or a monster, depending on one’s preferences). It is not. Science is both incomplete and quite strongly disunified. It does not speak with a single voice, therefore appeals to the abstraction ‘Science’ are out of place. The associated ideology sometimes known as objectivism, or scientific materialism, which takes science to be our ultimate measure of what exists, is therefore ungrounded. Its defenders, who portray themselves as the defenders of Reason, are often the kind of intellectual imperialists whose attitudes and advice in the past led, or would have led, to the destruction of first-nation communities, or similar political atrocities.

    That’s the kind of thing on the reading list. Draw your own conclusions.

  7. Dhay says:

    At #66 on the Tweet’s Reading List I find the linked article “Race, History and the #ScienceMarch”. This includes:

    Whereas event organizers claim that “[science] is a not partisan issue,” history unequivocally proves otherwise. Science is and always has been a function of power and politics. The historical record is replete with examples of the ways in which scientific inquiry and experimentation have sought to naturalize and rationalize the inferiority of people of color and justify their oppression through the language of pathology, deviance, and abnormality.

    Further, people of color have long served as laboratories for dangerous scientific experimentation. Exposing this lurid history is the first of many steps in forcing mainstream science — often implicitly racialized as white — to confront a historical past that exerts an enduring political force over our historical present. …

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39347-race-history-and-the-sciencemarch

    What this illustrates, I think, is that the March for Science (or its supporters and their various intentions) are many-stranded rather than monolithic.

    One strand would promote science and scientists as rational and beneficial, clinically detached, dispassionate and disinterested, non-partisan and non-discriminatory — “a universal toolkit, used in the same way by members of all groups, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion” (says Jerry Coyne). On this account, science is wonderful and needs preserving against attack.

    Another strand — represented by the author of the article above, and that Tweet, together with their target audience and the compilers of the ‘crowdsourced reading list’ — brands science biased, sexist, racist, misogynistic, repressive, unrepresentative, and swung by politics and by special interests (eg Big Pharma). On this alternative and contrary account, science as currently practiced is in a bad state and badly needs major reform.

    Remembering the early website(s), I’d say the originator and early planners of the March fall in this second category. It’s still a major undercurrent, and I suspect some organisations which have subsequently come on board are not particularly happy about the negative messages.

    These two strands are fundamentally at odds, with very different intentions, promoting very different messages, and seeking very different desired results.

    I would be surprised if another strand agrees with that positive first strand as a rationalisation, yet has as their primary concern the safeguarding of their own careers.

    Probably, some will march to promote ‘Science and Reason’ because ‘Science and Reason’ is atheism, innit, and they support atheism.

    Some will be there to ‘virtue signal’ how “scientific” and how enlightened rationally they are (such as the AAAS conference ‘protester for science’ who was intent, against all reason, on perpetuating the meta-myth — the myth about a myth — that there are flat Earth believers in urgent need of opposition from himself. (“Look at me, I’m rational, not like them.”)

    Some will be there because it’s another opportunity to show opposition to Donald Trump and his cabinet. Some will march because the President is a hated Republican, elected by hated Republicans — shock horror — together with their fellow-travellers. They’ll be there not because of science but to march for Liberalism and their fellow Democrats.

    I do sympathise with those protesters forced to suffer Trump’s right wing government; in Britain we have to suffer Theresa May’s.

    This list of strands is probably not exhaustive, add your own. With such disparate strands, if the March should be a success in terms of numbers marching, it will be difficult to know who it was a success for.

  8. Michael says:

    Well, the whole “objectivity” thing isn’t a scientific discovery or derived from scientific research either: it’s a philosophy of science. That’s what’s potentially going to make for some interesting fireworks at this march: on the one hand, you have the dyed-in-the-wool objective types like Jerry Coyne who insist that science is science and it makes no difference what your gender, race, or politics; on the other hand you have an enormous rank and file of postmodern SJWs who insist that science is politics, and demand that there is a politically correct way to go about science. Jerry Coyne is rightly concerned that this thing is dominated by the latter mindset, and the whole thing won’t be a march for science so much as a march for a particular philosophy of science — one to which he is diametrically opposed (and yet it has nothing to do with religion).

    Perfectly said.

  9. Ilíon says:

    I was thinking of “modern” as being more or less aligned with “positivist”

    It seems to me that the (various) positivist systems were the branch-off point for modernism to morph into post-modernism.

    but there is something in what you say about “control”.

    The early moderns (Bacon, Newton, etc) believed there is truth to be had; but they also understood that finding truth and knowing that you *have* truth is a difficult thing to do. So, their proposal — which is what sets ‘modern science’ apart from the medieval-era ‘scholastic sciences’ — was: “Let’s not concern ourselves so much with whether we *know* the truth about natural phenomenon, but rather concentrate on whether our theories give us increased *control* over natural phenomenon.

    And that’s fine, so long as everyone keeps in mind that that is what we’re doing.

    But, humans are humans … and what we *care* about is truth. But, we’re also weak and lazy … and so, most of us, even (especially??) trained scientists, forget, and then refuse to understand, that modern science isn’t about truth: that the statements of modern science may be true or may not be true, and that modern science has no means to differentiate scientific statements which are true from scientific statements which are un-true .

  10. Dhay says:

    > We’re so excited #intersectionality is a core principle of the #ScienceMarch!

    The March for SJWism.
    The March for Postmodernism.
    The March for Intersectionality.
    The March for Intersectional Feminism.
    The March against White Supremacy in Science.

    Ah, I knew there was science in there somewhere, even though it’s in an ‘against’.

  11. TFBW says:

    You don’t have to interpret it negatively, Dhay. You can think of it as a March for Intersectional Feminism in Science. Actually, the meme doesn’t explicitly say what it’s for and against, so it could also be a March for White Supremacy in Science — just not both of the above. Either way, its intensely political and moderately unsettling.

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