science scientifically – aka: feedback loop is broken; whalespeak; et al
adding page because of this tweet from peter gelderloos [https://twitter.com/PeterGelderloos/status/1648201140402544643?s=20]:
Also, a longer article with social criticisms of how scientific institutions show up in society. [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alex-gorrion-science]
which links to alex gorrion post on anarchist library called – Science – A continuation of “For the Love of God” – [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alex-gorrion-science]
just for ref two previous tweets in that thread:
I totally poached this tweet from
We should be immensely worried that the people with the most power to sculpt the social architecture of the next decades promote the same kinds of pseudo-science used to justify slavery and segregation. [https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/PeterGelderloos/status/1648200214832873472/photo/1]
science ness et al
which is a quote tweet to this tweet [https://twitter.com/ylecun/status/1647644010104901633?s=20]:
which is from Yann LeCun @ylecun Professor at NYU. Chief AI Scientist at Meta. Researcher in AI, Machine Learning, Robotics, etc. ACM Turing Award Laureate.
Humans are hardwired by evolution to be a social species with hierarchical structure. This includes hardwired drives for dominance or submission. AI assistants will simply have hardwired drives to submit and not dominate.
yeah.. oi.. need means to undo that hierarchical listening ness.. perpetuation ness..
[day later.. ian welsh @iwelsh quote tweets yann’s from above [https://twitter.com/iwelsh/status/1648387365021294604?s=20]: ‘Yeah, not quite. Like a lot of so-called biological imperatives this one depends on society and culture. It could as easily be said we have a drive for egalitarianism and that it takes a great deal of coercion to create highly hierarchical societies.’ yeah that]
@comebackkid4723 I would have just RTed him but then my commentary would have pushed out the screenshot and RT of the OP. Sorry and thanks for getting this out there!
then while googling alex.. found this – The Revolutionary Importance of Science: A Response to Alex Gorrion – [https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-revolutionary-importance-of-science-a-response-to-alex-gorrion/2015/06/16] which is .. as far as i can tell.. Øyvind Holmstad writing about John Jacobi‘s critique of alex and his science essay:
i guess i’ll read the p2p post first (shorter) – oh my.. yikes.. maybe not shorter
notes/quotes from rev importance of science – response to alex gorrion:
Editors note: This essay, written by one of our magazine editors, articulates why scientific thinking is an important tool for individuals and groups hoping to do something about the havoc industry has wrought. Several times it mentions a “revolutionary ecological analysis,” a reference to the budding Wildist movement that is working for the end of industry and toward a wild earth. The Wildernist is part of The Wildist Network.
note: neither of the links (wildist movement & wildist network) work
The Anvil recently published an article by Alex Gorrion that critiques “science.” While I am usually inclined to dismiss these critiques, most of all because the authors *rarely ever display familiarity with the history and philosophy of science (Gorrion is no exception), I have been engaged in a number of month-long discussions with people who I respect and who say the article has synthesized many of their problems, even if naively. It is for this reason that I am responding to Gorrion’s article in particular.
The first issue at hand is what we mean by “science.” The word is sufficiently broad to be meaningless or close to meaningless as a topic of discussion. And the difficulty is compounded by the fact that the word “science” refers in different contexts to radically different things, which often means critiques will target more than one of the meanings and not make any clear distinction between them. Gorrion’s article suffers from a *lack of a working definition of science and so predictably falls into this trap. One can, however, discern at least three targets in his piece. The first is scientific thought: the epistemology of science, the notion of objectivity, etc. The second target is the technocratic organization of modern communities of scientists. And the third is the notion of scientific progress
*oi (i realize this is a very unscientific response.. kind of my point.. to me.. all you can say when someone is trying to defend something with itself in diff forms.. aka: whalespeak)
Gorrion’s primary problem with scientific thought is its idea of “objectivity.” (As with “science,” Gorrion fails to distinguish between several different meanings of “objectivity.”) *He has a special problem with the idea that scientific knowledge is an accurate representation of objective reality. Knowledge, he says, does not exist without a knower, which means the knower is intimately involved in constructing knowledge. He also points out the many problems in certain scientific practices that make any claims to “objectivity” laughable. Medical studies are a prime example of this. Later on, Gorrion singles out scientific materialism in particular, saying first that the dichotomy between the material and ideal is arbitrary (but unfortunately **not explaining why) and then pointing out its failure to produce “ultimate explanations of consciousness, life, or creation.” Gorrion says that science pretends to be “an absolute system of knowledge,” and in this overextends itself; that science claims “that a zebra in a zoo is the same thing as a zebra in its herd in the Serengeti”; that science fears death; and that notions of progress and anthropocentrism are intrinsic parts of scientific thought.
**oi.. the ‘you need to tell me words that make sense to me .. that use my words.. otherwise you’re wrong’ ness
[note: not trying to defend gorrion.. haven’t even read any of it yet.. defending ness is to me.. binary ness anyway.. and so cancerous distraction]
Mixed in with all this, Gorrion simultaneously critiques the structures of academia and scientific communities. He says that even theories that are validated by the scientific method (which he rightly differentiates from scientific thought as a whole) are “marginalized, or obscured by the acting priests of Science,” citing as examples Gaia theory, Kropotkin’s ideas on evolution, and Recluse’s ideas on geography. Although earlier in the article Gorrion weakly argues against science based on the media’s use of the word, he later presents a stronger argument that modern scientific thought is so large and complex that flattened and distilled versions of it are necessary for the expert, skilled only in a small portion of of the whole scientific body of thought, to operate. In other words, these distilled, flattened, “pop” representations of science, including those presented by the media, are inherent aspects of scientific knowledge.
Lastly, Gorrion makes a strong critique of the notion of scientific “progress.” *Viewing the acquisition of knowledge as inherently good, something that “should never be forsworn” is, he says, intimately tied up with the continued destruction of the wild world. He reminds us that modern scientific progress relies on industrial development that tears up forests for laboratories, abstract mathematics that are used mostly for bombs and warfare, and so on. Gorrion also points out that the unilinear development of scientific thought, even apart from value judgements, is a dubious idea. Many scientific discoveries were made centuries before their place in the conventional narrative.
*yeah that.. like domesticate/civilization ing ness of the wild.. which to me what a legit free human would/could be like.. ie: graeber unpredictability/surprise law et al
I largely agree with the article’s critiques of technocratic structures and scientific progress, and I even recognize many of the limitations of the scientific worldview. But a misunderstanding of contemporary scientific thought coupled with a failure to differentiate between various meanings of the word “science,” compels Gorrion to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Gorrion might be surprised to learn that a good deal of scientists and philosophers of science strongly agree with many of his critiques of scientific thought. In fact, all the limitations he writes about have been pointed out with much more convincing argumentation by widely recognized philosophers of science. Gorrion not only fails to say anything new, he presents weaker arguments for what has already been said, largely by the “believers in Science” who he targets in his critique
For example, in 1748 philosopher David Hume published An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, in which he proposed two ideas relevant to this discussion. The first was the idea of radical skepticism. Hume believed that all human knowledge originated from sense-experience, a position known as “empiricism” and a cornerstone of the scientific method. However, he pointed out that even though our knowledge stems from sense-experience, there is *no rational reason to trust our senses. In other words, while we can draw conclusions from the knowledge gained from our senses, all that knowledge would be invalid if it could somehow be proved that our sense-experience is a faulty basis for our reasoning (think The Matrix). Furthermore, there is “the problem of induction.” Reasoning from sense-experience relies on induction, which is reasoning that starts from small premises and moves to larger generalizations. For example:
*no rational reason to trust our senses – to me.. that’s whalespeak.. ie: why rational reason?
- Some black balls from the urn have been observed.
- All observed black balls have tasted like licorice.
- Therefore, all black balls in the urn taste like licorice.
Hume argued that we use inductive reasoning every day.
Karl Popper later challenged some of Hume’s ideas on the problem of induction. For Popper, there is no such thing as an inductive inference, and science does not rely on it—the idea that science does is an illusion. The actual process is one of trial and error where the basic units of analysis are not facts but theories.
However, other philosophers challenged the idea that science did not rely on ad hoc modifications of theories.
There are many other issues in the philosophy of science that are relevant to this conversation. However, it would probably be fruitless to go over the history of the philosophy of science in this essay, and I am not interested in restating all the problems anyway. Still, the above examples illustrate some central points that refute or complexify Gorrion’s analysis. *For example, even though each of the above-mentioned issues present profound problems to scientific reasoning, every one of the thinkers who articulated the problems continued to espouse the scientific worldview. Furthermore, the endeavor of science is nowadays recognized by a substantial number of scientists as much more complex than Gorrion suggests. For instance, he criticizes “Science” for not accepting “Gaia theory, the Kropotkian view of evolution, [and] the Reclusion theorizations in geography,” even though the ideas have been “validated by the empirical method.” Apart from the fact that at least two of those examples have very real issues in the matters of empirical evidence and theoretical ambiguity, the concepts of paradigms and underdetermination help explain why the theories have not been widely accepted in the scientific community. These concepts also directly refute Gorrion’s statement that “believers in Science will generally assert that Science itself is nothing more than empiricism.
*to me.. again not having read anything of gorrion yet.. this is an ie of whalespeak
*By now it should be clear that Gorrion fails to critique scientific thinking as a whole. Instead, he only critiques, at worst, various stereotypes about science and, at best, some ideas within science. **Either way, his critique is insufficient for his wildly audacious conclusion that we should dispose of science wholesale.
*’should be clear’ ness as red flag.. clear to who? using your words.. clear to who all?.. oi
**audacious: surprisingly bold risk, lack of respect.. again.. to who.. to whose words/versions/insight/knowledge/intellect ness.. oi
The way to analyze two research programs is to compare their predictive power and their explanatory power. If a research program gains explanatory power from the addition of ad hoc hypotheses, it is what Lakatos calls “progressive.” However, if the protective belt grows without increasing the research program’s predictive and explanatory power, the program is “degenerative,” and susceptible to disposal for another program.
There is one other caveat: even if a research program is “degenerative,” we are not justified in disposing it without a better program (one with more explanatory power) to replace it. Otherwise, disposing of the degenerative research program leaves us with a weakened ability to demystify the world around us.
Under the cultural materialist program (Harris calls it a “research strategy”), all societies have three components: the infrastructure, which includes technological, geographic, demographic, and some economic factors; the structure, which includes the division of labor, organizations, and the state; and the superstructure, which includes religion, science, superstitions, and so on. There is also a notion of “infrastructural determinism,” which states that the infrastructure probabilistically shapes the structure, which shapes the superstructure. Under Lakatos’ and Harris’ logic, one is justified in looking at a society and assuming, before getting any empirical evidence, that the infrastructure is the primary reason the society is the way it is. And this sort of willful recognition of “theory-ladenness,” or the idea that theory affects evidence, has not hampered the predictive and explanatory power of cultural materialism at all. *On the contrary, it is one of the anthropological theories that has done the best to explain, for example, the transition from hunter-gatherer life to agricultural life.
*oi oi oi dawn of everything (book) et al.. myth of normal et al..
Such an approach includes far more than the empirical method, and there is no name for it other than “science.” I am not convinced that we can dispose of it.
ha.. nice definition.. nice rational reasoning..
For one thing, *even if this approach has some real problems, the alternatives are even worse. Mysticism, religion, and various forms of obscurantism have been the primary tools of the powerful seeking to justify their power. **Science—logic, reason, empirical evidence—has been the tool that has cut off the legs of those beasts. Science is what allows us to demystify power relations and the world around us so that we can properly respond. ***Otherwise, we are left making decisions that do not, for example, acknowledge evolutionary processes, economic trends, sociological tendencies, and human nature. This is as absurd as making decisions without acknowledging the laws of gravity. Worse, we are left not believing in the laws of gravity because a monarch or tradition or “divine revelation” has told us so.
*which alts? whose alts?
**oh my oh my oh my.. isn’t their power relations in phrases like ‘properly respond’
***oi.. 1\ decision making is unmooring us.. evolution process, econ trends, socio tendencies are cancerous distractions.. not to mention.. we have no idea what legit free people (aka: human nature) are like
Some have argued that science only justifies the prevailing order. Gorrion, for example, might cite the medical industry’s tendency to influence “scientific” studies in order to boost their profits. *But the problem here is a lack of science, not too much of it. Furthermore, **scientific findings on ecological devastation and climate change have presented a profound challenge to the prevailing industrial order. ***It is the religionists and their obscurantism who are promoting the greatness of industry and glossing over its negative consequences with climate change denial.
*nah.. fuller too much law et al
**nah.. just perpetuating it
***us & them ness will never get us to a legit alt.. cancerous distraction of ‘she/he did it’ ness.. oi
In the face of growing ecological devastation, I am not ready to dispose of science for some unclear or worse alternative. *What is needed now is a group of people who are dedicated to cutting through bullshit with the strongest tools they have and responding appropriately. Falling into mysticism or relativism, as some “radicals” have proposed, might feel good, but it makes our analysis impotent—**a dangerous thing when the situation we are facing is so dire.
*i’d be for that to.. but has to be all of us..
need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs
**this is why any part\ial ness or whatever you want to call it (to me.. anything other than a legit alt sansany form of m\a\p) is killing us.. is keeping us from us..
for (blank)’s sake
Gorrion was right to be critical of technocratic structures and of scientific progress, but, as with most of his other points, his argument could have been much stronger, which I hope to illustrate.
First, though, a point of clarification. Previously I mentioned the tendency of critiques of science to mix up the multiple meanings of the word and, as a result, to end up disposing of one meaning in the name of arguments against another. Gorrion does this. He rightly criticizes the structures of academic and scientific communities but, in calling it “science,” counts his argument as strengthening his justification for rejecting scientific thinking. Probably a more careful writer could use the term “science” to refer to both things while retaining a nuanced differentiation. But given the complexity of the issue, the need to communicate it in simple terms to many people, and its vital importance for a revolutionary ecological analysis, I prefer the phrase “technocratic structures,” which calls attention to the real problem: the industrial-technological base and economics. For is it really scientific thought that necessitates the vastness of contemporary scientific practice—scientific thought that could be practiced equally well by any pre-industrial community? Probably not.
yeah.. that’s real simple..
we need to quit thinking we need to communicate things to other people.. people telling other people what to do/think et al
In fact, several thinkers believe that even hunter-gatherers practiced scientific thought. .. Liebenberg began his exploration with the question, “How did the human mind evolve the ability to do scientific reasoning if scientific reasoning was not required for hunter-gather[er] survival?” He ultimately posited that the evolutionary origin of scientific thought could have stemmed from the hunter-gatherer practice of tracking animals.
In other words, a much more likely culprit for the problems Gorrion writes about—and many he didn’t—is the industrial-technological and economic infrastructure that expands everything, including scientific exploration, into a mass that our Stone Age world doesn’t quite jive with.
graeber/wengrow back & forth law et al.. oi
Some examples. Gorrion notes that the scientific body of knowledge is so vast that *no one individual could understand a tenth of it. This, by consequence, necessitates both the need for experts and, in fields the experts do not specialize in, a flattened, “pop” form of science. All of this is not an inevitable consequence of thinking scientifically. Rather, if our society is larger and more complex, by necessity we will have to know more things in order to operate its various components; we will have to know more specific and technical things, since small errors have huge repercussions when magnified; and we will have to universalize the knowledge in some way so that there can be communication across different groups of people. In To Our Friends, The Invisible Committee explains this issue well:
*rather.. we need to let go of know ing ness
…[Man] continues relating in the same disastrous manner to the disaster produced by his own disastrous relationship with the world. He calculates the rate at which the ice pack is disappearing. He measures the extermination of non-human forms of life. As to climate change, he doesn’t talk about it based on his sensible experience—a bird that doesn’t return in the same period of the year, an insect whose sounds aren’t heard anymore, a plant that no longer flowers at the same time as some other one. He talks about it scientifically, with numbers and averages. He thinks he’s saying something when he establishes that the temperature will rise so many degrees and the precipitation will decrease by so many inches or millimeters. He even speaks of “biodiversity.” He observes the rarification of life on earth from space. (To Our Friends, Invisible Committee, chapter 1.)
oh my.. of math and men et al
I have not read To Our Friends—this quote was given to me by a colleague—so I don’t know where the committee took their argument. But regardless, it stood out to me as a perfect example of what I am trying to communicate here. The “sensible experience” mentioned in the quote—such as “an insect whose sounds aren’t heard anymore”—are all perfectly valid as scientific evidence. Indeed, it was that *kind of evidence that Darwin used to devise his elegant theory of evolution. But the problems of the modern world to which scientific thought must be applied require more precise and massive knowledge. For example, applying scientific reasoning to contemporary economic systems—for conventional or revolutionary purposes—**requires the use of higher order mathematics and abstract numerical evidence. The sounds of grasshoppers aren’t going to be helpful for that at all.
**ie of whales imposing/perpetuating structural violence via the ever so worthy.. measuring things ness
The culprit here is economics and technology.
what we need:
1\ for econ: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space
2\ for tech: tech w/o judgment .. ietech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness
Some scientists and left-wing critics have expressed support for this view. Specifically, they say that capitalist economics have structured research funding and grants in such a way that severely undermines the integrity of scientific findings. The medical industry is a particularly egregious example. Given that the leftist Gorrion is such a strong enemy of capitalism, it is rather unfortunate that he gave up a nuanced argument against the intrusion of capitalism on scientific exploration for the flat, hollow one that denounces science wholesale.
or perhaps.. the other is so obvious.. wholesale ness (any form of m\a\p) is the part we keep missing
While I appreciate Gorrion’s argument about pop science being an intrinsic part of contemporary scientific knowledge, he overstates his point. It is true that no one person can know even a tenth of contemporary science. But, firstly, this is not a problem to a certain extent, or it is at least an unavoidable one. In most societies there exists a body of knowledge that no one person can properly understand in full. Secondly, technologies very often offset this weakness. Granted, the critiques of technocratic structures apply here. However, the presence of these technologies and structures do enable scientists to overcome the pitfalls of specialization. Computers, libraries, and so on store large amounts of knowledge and allow for coordination at a massive scale. And obviously one expert deficient in a field can always defer to another expert. The point here is not that this is a desirable state of things, but that Gorrion needs to at least tone down his claim that scientists are unjustified in being miffed about “pop science,” or that it is a problem that scientists only know a small part of what there is to know.
oh my.. what happened to the ‘ dangerous thing when the situation we are facing is so dire’ in your part 3
We would also do well here to examine how absurd Gorrion’s actual critique is. His exact words are:
Just as Cartesian dualism remains embedded in Enlightenment rationalism, the Cartesian geometry of flat planes and right angles remains integral to the scientific worldview, even though it has been invalidated by the principle of relativity (whereas the determinism of classical science up to and including general relativity has been contradicted by the uncertainty of quantum mechanics). If space itself is not a neutral, static phenomenon, something as stable and happy as a square or a triangle can be nothing but an illusion or a convenient lie. (This is a part of Science’s mythical simplification, elements of the worldview that it cannot actually defend, but that it nonetheless perpetuates, through mechanisms that will be dishonestly chalked up to “pop science” if ever called to account.)
*This is absurd. No scientist would call Newtonian notions of space and time “pop science.” They might clarify in reference to certain problems or if the discussion called for it, but for the most part Newtonian conceptions are an extremely accurate approximation of how the world actually works. Calling them a “convenient lie” is like saying “the earth is a sphere” is a lie because it has mountains—although, judging from the above quote, Gorrion might commit himself to that claim as well.
this too is a ‘dangerous thing when the situation we are facing is so dire’.. all this cancerous distractionous blah blah ing ness..
naming the colour.. forever blinding us
I’ve up until now responded to Gorrion’s article by giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve glossed over some of his more absurd claims, I’ve mostly ignored asking for evidence where it was sorely lacking, and I’ve carefully avoided the charge of “postmodern relativism,” which even the postmodern relativists have learned to reject. However, there are good reasons to believe that Gorrion deserves no such treatment. Let’s investigate a few.
‘my ideas = good/real’
First, Gorrion espouses the Gaia hypothesis as being a valid scientific hypothesis that has been rejected by the conspiratorial “priests of Science” as heresy. In reality, Gaia hypothesis is really, really bad science. It proposes a complete redefinition of the concept of “life” and, at best, functions as a teleological metaphor for things the theory of evolution already explains well and better. As a result Gaia is generally only accepted by *woo woo hippies—but it seems like Gorrion has no problem with this. Several things indicate he is firmly in the woo woo camp. For example, he states:
‘other’s that disagree with me and/or don’t use my words.. ideas good = bad/fake’.. ‘so i will *name call .. makes me feel a bit higher up’
I haven’t responded to everything in Gorrion’s critique for practical reasons, but I will explain why I didn’t address three of them here.
I have spent this whole essay defending scientific thought and pointing out the absurdity of many aspects of Gorrion’s critique. But Gorrion’s views are not particularly far off from the anti-science populism that is likely to become more common in the future. Scientists and engineers are going to become discernibly more influential on the world around us. Already there are hundreds of scientists on Wall Street and many working behind the scenes at Facebook and Google. Just as the twentieth century’s populism targeted politicians, so the twenty-first century’s populism will target scientists and technologies, and science along with them. Despite this, clearly the revolutionary should not dispose of scientific thought. After all, his role is to demystify a situation and find the proper target. What better tool for this than science?
cancerous distraction of binary ness
notes/quotes from alex gorrion’s science:
All facts are processed knowledge resulting from personal involvement in a situation, guided by a specific cultural and historical framing as well as individual motivations. Regardless of whether a falling tree makes noise in an empty forest, how someone understands a forest and what features of it they decide to, or are even able to, measure, are all subjectively determined factors. There are no facts without personhood, and the tendency to try to alienate the facts from the producers of those facts not only trains people in a non-ecstatic disembodied view of their own lives, it also suggests dishonesty as well as an extreme discomfort with one’s place in the world.. In a world not ruled by Science, psychologists would be speaking about “objectivity neurosis” rather than “oppositional defiance disorder.”
It is now a well produced and difficult to deny fact that observation always changes that which is observed.
This boils down to a truism that should, at least philosophically, hold great weight: it is impossible to know the world without us.
rather.. it’s impossible to know the world.. anything of great significance
The journalistic hoax that allows an infinity of perspectives to be silenced so as to present “both sides” of a story, and their refusal to educate viewers about the invisibilized questions of framing, can only fly for a public that still believes that objective information exists. It would probably not be exaggerated to view this hoax as a cover-up. If people realized that the best that can be hoped for (and not even in a pessimistic sense) is multi-subjective knowledge, they would not constantly have to devalue and suppress their own subjective knowledge, which is to say their life experiences, in the search for a superior yet unattainable objective knowledge. And someone who suppresses their own viewpoint is easier to control..t
oh my.. nice ‘infinity of perspective to be silence so as to present ‘both sides’ of a story’ .. whole sentence.. whole para
heresy, an exploration conducted within the terminology and cosmology of the faith, rather than external to it, but one that contradicts the interests of those who hold power over the faith.
A fact published by Silvia Federici illustrates the link between the enthusiastic explorations of science and of the police; Francis Bacon, the father of empiricism, was also the Attorney General for the British Crown. He conducted political repression for the State, becoming involved in the interrogation and torture of subjects, an activity that perhaps expanded his understanding of the methodical acquisition of knowledge. And even though today, given centuries of complexification, the ecologist and the police investigator, both scientifically trained, are not the same person, it is hard to ignore the community of interests they work for. One is employed by Exxon to carry out investigations that will either raise doubts about global warming or open up new product lines for “clean energy,” and the other has a “domestic terrorism” assignment that was created after political lobbying by Exxon in the face of a direct action campaign against a pipeline. Or perhaps his job post was indirectly created by Weyerhauser, or Monsanto, or Huntingdon Life Sciences, but in that case one only need go a level higher, to find that both companies use the same bank..t
Science pretends to resolve the tension by producing a dead universe (a philosophical projection that Science as a worldshaper may be close to achieving). The ideal or the spirit has been abolished, assumed to be a fiction of the material world, which in rationalist terms is the only world (almost an inversion of Manichaeism, which is curious given the fury with which the medieval Church attacked the followers of Mani). Scientists still are not any closer to furnishing ultimate explanations of consciousness, life, or creation—though their “I don’t know” has gotten fascinatingly more detailed—and they continuously have to return to their relationship with religion, their explanations of the power of the mind, the placebo effect, reports of altered consciousness among people who experienced temporary death, and so on. This wouldn’t be a problem if Science did not pretend to be an absolute system of knowledge. As far as answers are concerned, Science is much better at cobbling them together than most other systems of knowledge, but the weight of its pretension to absoluteness causes it to stumble painfully over these few details, again and again, that it still cannot smooth down.
graeber can’t know law et al
We can also fault Science for its proliferation of simplified myths. Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, articulates perfectly how our scientific society is based on anthropocentric myths about evolution. Ask anyone to explain the evolution of life, and they will tell you a story that starts with single-celled organisms and ends with humankind, the pinnacle of progress. Scientists have an easy out, for they can always claim that this is not really a factually rigorous or “objective” explanation of evolution, and they can’t be blamed for other people’s ignorance. What they can’t explain is why that myth has always been reproduced at a far greater frequency than any empirically accurate rendition of the evolution tale, and often issues from the mouths of trained scientists themselves.
daniel quinn.. myth of normal.. myth of tragedy and lord.. et al
In fact, practitioners of Science are far more guilty of this simplification process than their predecessors.. With Science, however, the mythical simplifications tend to be far more crass, often flying in the face of empirical evidence in order to articulate a myth that is calming or convenient to the social order. Examples abound, from the already cited evolution myth that depicts a hierarchical progression culminating in homo sapiens, to apologia for nuclear energy,..t to essentialist justifications for traditional gender relations. Frustratingly, such myths are hard to challenge, because scientists are not usually instructed in the nuances of symbolic communication, and thus do not recognize a myth if it slaps them in the face (on the contrary, they tend to operate in the Christian realm of truth, taking their own narratives as objective, and those of other religions as preposterous absurdities). If effectively confronted, any of these myths can be conveniently jettisoned as pseudo-science, but an explanation is never offered as to why such myths are so often produced by scientists themselves, and why opportunities are systematically generated for their distribution..t
In other words, scientists inevitably have to address aspects of empirical knowledge that are outside their field of expertise. Their vision of other fields is often fed to them by the same mass media that take the fall for being the propagators of pseudo-science. But what we are dealing with is something systematic. In a *knowledge system that is far too complex for any one mind to appreciate all of it, or even a tenth of it, the mechanisms by which knowledge is simplified for the non-specialists, and by which a global portrayal of the knowledge is produced, must be analyzed as a structural part of that knowledge system. Western science, however, dodges the bullet on this one by avoiding holistic analysis of its methodology. Against such a laughably broad claim as “Science produces a mythical view of evolution,” the institutional body need only trot out an expert on, say, the evolution of color-perception among insects, to give a suitably detailed description of evolutionary processes and thus deny responsibility for the inaccuracies of pop science. But the pop science and the mechanisms that produce it are an integral part of Science itself.
*rather.. not too complex.. just too blah blah bureaucratic
Western science is accomplished by professionals who are patronized by financial and territorial powers, free to research and debate within the informal but very real boundaries established by patronage, while bringing no empowerment or enlightenment to the masses, only instructions.. t
people telling other people what to do
skimmed a lot (after reading the other above) gorrion is as well being us & them ish and blah blah ish..
As we have stated earlier, Western science constitutes a knowledge system. The knowledge it produces is frequently valid, up until the point it claims to be absolute.
oi.. validation ness.. et al
Science is predisposed to produce the following types of knowledge:
–The charting of ahistorical genealogies
–An awareness of alienated units
–The development of mathematics as the language of nature
–The articulation of mechanical relationships
–Discoveries resulting from divisionism
What other kinds of knowledge are there, and what is wrong with the types of knowledge enumerated above? After all, as of the 20th century Science can also boast a knowledge of field dynamics, dynamic equilibrium, and chaotic systems. Give them enough time, and our boys in labcoats will discover it all, right?
Naturally it is hard to talk about what we don’t know or haven’t been able to discover, and perhaps even harder to reveal the presence of a lens when our whole lives we have been trained to look only at the object, and from the same perspective no less. Objectivity is an extremely pervasive, subtle philosophy specifically because it trains its adepts to believe that the only meaningful differences are, well, objective.
Part of the reason that scientists cannot easily promote acupuncture is that they have no idea how it works. People trained in Chinese medicine know how acupuncture works, but their explanations are completely useless for believers in Science, since they rely on concepts like energy meridians, yin and yang, that are meaningless within the worldview of Enlightenment rationalism. To fully accept acupuncture or any other component of Chinese medicine would be to acknowledge that Science is partial rather than absolute, that it is only one knowledge system of many, and that would be unacceptable.
Let’s compare their treatment of Chinese medicine with their adventures in psychiatry. True to their preference for mechanistic and divisionist forms of knowledge, as mentioned above, they have “isolated” (a truly spiritual term that accurately reflects their depraved philosophy) the components of the brain that produce the chemicals connected to certain emotions. Once you know what chemicals need to be blocked and what chemicals need to be produced in greater quantity, you’ve got the emotions all figured out. Simple, right? (Hopefully, readers read those last two lines in a Mickey Mouse voice, or at least with the voice of Joey from Friends).
The result of this kind of brilliant thinking are antidepressants that cause higher rates of suicide, as well as other forms of intimately disturbing unpleasantness. Some highly civilized people might not believe that extreme stupidity is just cause for execution. Nonetheless, we are confident that many who have been at the mercy of psychiatrists (for they, along with other scientists, do nothing if not exercise power over people) would agree with us that certain of these experts should be dragged out into the streets and shot. But, since the shoe is on the other foot, we can at least start with a bit of well earned mockery.
we gotta can the us & them ness.. oi
Science has perfected a knowledge of aliens. An alien is an Other, but not an autonomous Other necessary for the understanding of the self; the alien helps the scientific self promote its alibi of non-selfhood or objectivity, that it is not a being intervening in the world and producing specific kinds of knowledge but a simple, non-interfering gaze that could belong to any subject, simply observing already existing facts that lie scattered across the terrain. An alien, of necessity, is violently uprooted from its surroundings, and it is the very process of observation, categorization, and analysis, as part of greater socio-economic processes, that achieves its alienation. Science, upon knowing an alien, has already fucked it thoroughly and irrevocably, yet it pretends that the alien already existed as an alien before the intervention of the scientific gaze.
society of spectacle (book) ness et al
Rationalism has perfected a number of apparatuses ostensibly intended to display knowledge. In practice, these apparatuses are factories of alienation that train us to understand things as dismembered bodies whose relationships and histories are as invisible as they are extraneous. These apparatuses are the encyclopedia, the museum, the zoo. In order to appear in a zoo or a museum, a body must already have undergone a process of colonization, uprooting, kidnapping, trauma, muting, and domination..t For Science to claim (and to do so without speaking, to naturalize the idea) that a zebra in a zoo is the same thing as a zebra in its herd in the Serengeti, or that a ceremonial mask stored with reverence and used to bring the rains in Borneo is the same as a mask sitting in a display case in London, it must engage in a very powerful and evil kind of magic. It is a transformation of the most pernicious kind.. t In one kind of transformative magic, a person can be made a fish or a bird, and discover the interconnectedness of all things, and the mobility of the spirit. In rationalism’s transformation, two beings that are completely unlike—one free and the other imprisoned—are made into the same being, teaching us the sameness of all things and the transferability of objects.. t
black science of people/whales law et al
huge.. and so.. we have no idea what legit free people are like
hari rat park law et al
The principles of the alien and the atom indicate that Science is not merely a method, nor even a producer of knowledge, but a worldshaper, a Weltanschauung that, through its connection to a complex of productive forces, codifies a modality with which to approach the world, inscribes a specific understanding of what the world actually is so that all its operations may unfold on a complementary terrain, and ends up reproducing the type of world that it believed in from the beginning, at increasing intensities and extremes of scale..t
Leaving all the alibis aside, Science as it exists is inconceivable without its unbroken institutional, philosophical, and economic connections with policing, warfare, and industrialization. Its medical knowledge of bodies corresponds to the State’s need to discipline, exploit, and torture those bodies; its funding and the areas of its advancement, its “discoveries,” correspond to the need of states to wage warfare against their neighbors and the need of capitalists to get an edge on their competitors and their laborers..t It is not merely a complex of academic institutions that has advanced alongside, and been corrupted by, the institutions of the modern nation-state and of capital investment. On the contrary, at no point is Science autonomous within and endogenous to those academic institutions. It has always been a primary motor for the expansion—material and spiritual, to borrow the tired dichotomy—of the present world system that has colonized the entire globe, put all forms of life to work, reengineered the landscape to favor production and social control, and that is now busy rewriting the very matrix in which life and existence unfold; therefore its development has not been an exclusively academic affair but a chief concern of all the institutions of power with which it is coterminous.
Capitalism and therefore present-day ecocide do not exist without Science,..t neither technologically nor philosophically, and no amount of excuses about the individuality of scientists or the mutual independence of investors and inventors can change that fact. Just as feudal society is inconceivable without the clergy, even though the feudal relationship is typically simplified as one between serf and secular lord or vassal and liege lord, the scientific class are the linchpin of capitalist society, despite not properly belonging to the bourgeoisie or proletariat. Scientific investigation is a major sector of production in its own right; scientists constitute a privileged caste indispensable to the self-evaluation, reproduction, expansion, and social legitimation of state and private entities; and the scientific worldview, with its popular and professional forms, is crucial to uniting ruler and ruled in the present day and explaining existence in a way that is compatible with the interests of domination..t
An unwritten rule of the scientific philosophy that is, nonetheless, abundantly evident, is the non-limitation of invention and discovery. Anything that can be invented, should be. Knowledge should never be forsworn; it must always be used for the accumulation of more knowledge. A professional class that could invent nuclear weapons plainly follows such an imperative. Curiously, power within the scientific regime operates in a way that is remarkably similar to capital—there is no bad money, and all money must be invested or lost.
We predict that many believers in Science, especially the academically initiated, will reject this critique as uselessly broad, if they do not dismiss it outright. This is worth analyzing. First of all, someone in a position of power, someone with an accredited brain, a priest with a position in the hierarchy, need not respond to a non-professional writer, a layperson, unless the critique begins to be so widely distributed it constitutes a threat. The overwhelming silence this article will be met with, except from other laypersons, suggests that indeed there is a hierarchy at stake, rather than a free and equal community of ideas. After all, the Catholic Church did not begin to execute heretics among the laity until subversive heresies that challenged church hierarchies were widespread and began connecting with other social fault lines between upper and lower classes (principally cleaving to the new mobile urban class of weavers or rural peasants who increasingly asserted their autonomy) a situation that attained in the 12th century.
Secondly, and more substantially, we have noticed a certain pattern. The academically trained will always insist that the scientific community is highly self-critical, yet at the same time they always (as far as we have seen) reject criticisms that come from outside of academia as “overgeneralized” or unfounded. We would argue that this is a structurally systematic response..t
wow.. sounds like essay above.. wonder why he didn’t site this para
An institution with hegemonic aspirations, or one that has already achieved dominance, must never allow itself to be fit into a globalizing theory (for what we are offering here, to be honest, is not a critique, it is a theoretical explanation of where Science fits within an anarchist view of the world). Anticolonial movements have already criticized postmodernism for how theorizing other people’s identities and histories constitutes an exercise of power over those peoples. More broadly, Science cannot accept any external theorization of its role, because it is busy trying to place everything and everyone else within a theoretical system of its own making. At this juncture, we are not trying to offer criticism or feedback that might be useful to specific scientists, and which accordingly, must be particular, balanced, and fair. We are trying to theorize about a system of knowledge that pretends to be objective and all-encompassing, and a cabal (in the Biblical rather than paranoid conspiratorial sense) that claims not to exist, not to have agency, and not to have systematic patterns of behavior and ways of shaping the world.
In other words, what we are dealing with is precisely the lack of a theoretical generalization about Science as a complex of institutions with dynamic agency and an extremely important role within capitalism. Lacking this, it does not escape our attention that the only serious critiques of scientists that will be permitted are those that originate from other scientists and are published and disseminated by the structures that Science has sanctioned for its internal communications; and secondarily critiques originating from the laity that follow the rules of good form, addressing only particular scientists and particular errors, and thus never capable of contributing towards a theoretical framework that addresses Science globally. To avoid unfair generalization, we are meant to wait until the official producers of knowledge themselves conceive of and find funding for a study that could objectively demonstrate in what percentage of the cases these criticisms are founded. Pie in the sky.
graeber min\max law et al.. graeber grant law et al..
ha.. exactly what the above piece did/said.. almost like it was written first and gollion copied it in as counter attack.. or that the above author stopped reading this piece before this part
We don’t doubt that Science has its own mechanisms for self-criticism and accountability. In this day and age, what institutional complex doesn’t? The point is, these mechanisms are not adequate for the rest of us. It can be claimed that Science is not a cohesive body nor a religion, but we can see that sufficient coordination exists for scientists to be trained with enough homogeneity that they can be compatible and communicative internationally, and that these scientists are consistently useful in the maintenance and expansion of capitalism. True, capitalism can harness anything, even the games of children, but there really is no comparison, as scientific methodologies, the products of scientific knowledge, and trained scientists themselves play an irreplaceable role at the highest levels of global capitalism and on all the frontiers of capitalist expansion.