Is Science a Social Construct? YouTuber King Crocoduck Says No

And anyone who does, according to him, deserves nothing but contempt and condescension!

History-of-science

YouTuber King Crocoduck has been fighting the Science Wars against creationists, and now he’s taking on the social constructionists. He’s a smart guy who deserves better than to be applying his brainpower in pointing out the flaws in a ludicrous hoax like creationism. But I get the feeling that his aversion to postmodern approaches to science is more about ideology than rationality.

Antisocial Constructivism

We here at Driven to Abstraction accept every mainstream scientific theory: Big Bang, evolution by natural selection, the efficacy of vaccines, anthropogenic global warming, the whole shmeer. However, the idea that science is a social construct seems self-evidently clear to me. Scientific inquiry is a for-us-by-us research program, a collective human endeavor that involves observing, interpreting, and arranging facts about the world; I can’t see how anyone could deny that culture and politics influence how science is defined and conducted. I guess I’m underestimating the fervor of science fans like King C. It’s no secret that I deplore the stale positivism that passes for science appreciation these days, and it amuses me how people’s skepticism goes out the window when the subject is the supposed objectivity of scientific inquiry. King C’s erudition is impressive, but in taking aim at the constructionists he’s fighting a war against the very skepticism he otherwise champions.

In his video “Is Science a Social Construct?”, King C takes to task the social constructionists for what he considers their unforgivable folly; but just as I defy anyone to endure his tedious narration and imperious sarcasm, I defy anyone to find anything particularly objectionable in his explanation of how the social constructionists define science, at 13:52 in this video:

To say that science is a social construct is to say that the conclusions reached by a scientific model are not just shaped by facts, but are also shaped by values that are particular to the social situation of whoever is doing the research. Arguments for why this is the case will vary from coffee shop to coffee shop [Note: King C has a particular loathing for “hipsters”], but the feature common to all varieties of social constructionism is the belief that scientific conclusions are necessarily influenced by socially specific background values. Scientific facts are not just theory-laden, but are also value-laden. According to the social constructionists, whether it’s because of differences in epistemic privilege by virtue of different social situations, differences in the psychologies of different groups due to differences in upbringing, or the unique historical and cultural contexts that shape every discourse—including science—every scientist will construct scientific knowledge in a manner that reflects their place in society.

In fairness to King C, he has not created a straw man of constructionists and I think everyone should agree that this is an accurate description of what social constructionists entails. But why is this description of science so outrageous? The idea that scientists reach conclusions based on a combination of facts and values is pretty accurate. Isn’t everything we believe about the world value-laden? Does King C think that socioeconomic and political factors don’t figure into how humans conduct science?

Kuhn-cern About Kuhn-structionism

King C rightly points out that a lot of constructionists misinterpret the work of Thomas Kuhn, the physicist author of the brilliant 1962 essay The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that even King C himself admits sealed the coffin of old-school positivism. Kuhn wasn’t, in fact, saying that facts can be interpreted in any way someone feels obliged to do so. However, Kuhn’s stated anti-relativism doesn’t change the fact that he pointed out a distinction that’s still known as Kuhn’s Gap: that there’s a philosophical chasm between the evidential, logical and dialectical support for a scientific claim and the social-institutional context in which that claim is expected to be scrutinized and disputed. Kuhn argued that the dynamics of scientific research communities, rather than evidence, constitute the decisive factor in scientific progress. The constructionists also emphasize the social-institutional context of scientific inquiry.

How to Poison a Well

In a video titled “The New Lysenkoists,” King C’s agenda becomes clear. Lysenko, you’ll recall, was a crony of Stalin who deep-sixed the Soviet Union’s agricultural program with his pseudoscientific ideas about heredity, and millions starved as a result. So King C is basically equating skepticism about science’s objectivity with political malfeasance that can lead to the deaths of millions. How fair-minded!

King C doesn’t tell us precisely what’s wrong with the social-constructionist position or what grounds his view of science, he merely criticizes a couple of feminists (whose critiques were much more nuanced than his scaremongering sound-bite rebuttals acknowledge) and po-mo provocateurs for their silly-sounding pronouncements, and expects us to conclude that no critique of science is feasible.

He presents the paradigm shift of geocentrism-to-heliocentrism as evidence that relativist assumptions are wrong, thus missing the point of relativism entirely. No one disputes that the Earth orbits the Sun; the core argument is that scientific inquiry is perspectival and contextual. That’s the very reason that paradigm shifts can occur in the social context of an inductive process like science. It’s not due to the factual accuracy of a scientific model; we can’t know how accurate our models of reality are, because we don’t have independent knowledge of how reality is. But a diverse range of perspectives leads to new ways of interpreting existing data, and the result could be a new framework that motivates more useful and meaningful research.

Scaremongering…With Science Words!

Fear the brown people!
Fear the brown people!

In the “New Lysenkoists” video, King C fixates on last year’s viral video of the South African student inveighing against Western science, and makes her the symbol of everything he despises about the academic left. The notion that this student is black, female, and espouses immoderate lefty rhetoric is just too much for King C to bear. At 4:50 in the video, he addresses her thus:

What every scientist recognizes is that it doesn’t matter what your religion, skin color, native tongue, or even planet of origin happens to be; water is comprised of two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, regardless of what part of the world you’re from.

Once again, King C uses uncontroversial scientific facts to do some serious philosophical heavy lifting. The fact that we have a consensus on the molecular structure of water, according to him, means that criticism of scientific inquiry is completely unnecessary. In essence, King C’s attacks on science skeptics are meant to reinforce his evident belief that science isn’t accountable to anyone.

No one’s saying other forms of empirical inquiry would conceptualize each and every natural phenomenon in a completely different way; it’s that different groups are bound to have different research aims and ways of defining inquiry, and—here’s relativism again—there’s not one uniquely privileged perspective. Technological advantage was crucial in the European domination and exploitation of Africa. Western colonization was brutal and genocidal, and the European conquerors foisted completely new ways of thinking on those they considered their subhuman subjects: their systems of language, religion, and empirical inquiry all derived from European modes of thought. The decolonization process involves not only legitimizing the way former colonial subjects speak and worship, but also the way they experience and interpret phenomena. The democratization of science doesn’t mean they get to decide what’s real, it means that Africans have every right to engage in research that’s meaningful to them, not just that which is profitable to corporate and military interests.

There’s nothing new in what King C is doing here; he’s heaping scorn on the exact same people—feminists, post-colonialists, leftists, academics—as the right-wing science bunch has targeted since the 90s. He even rehashes old footage of Dawkins ridiculing feminist Luce Irigaray, making it plain that this is stale stuff. There’s no attempt to engage with what these thinkers are saying. It’s as if King C realizes that his audience will find the constructionists’ rhetoric self-evidently fatuous, and so he refuses to waste any effort analyzing their perspective in a sincere and informed way.

The Mispronouncements of King Crocoduck

This past Saturday, YouTuber Holy Koolaid hosted a live chat with King C, also titled “Is Science a Social Construct?” In response to a spectator’s question about whether scientism is a valid phenomenon (which Holy Koolaid flatly denied), King C said he intended to reclaim the term scientism, but “just to piss people off.” When he mispronounced the word libido, his host mentioned that we shouldn’t make fun of people for mispronouncing a word, since it means they only learned it by reading. That’s true. However, in King C’s “New Lysenkoists” video, he mispronounces the name of famed philosopher Bruno Latour. What this means is that he’s never bothered to speak to anyone, even at the university he attends, who’s familiar with Latour and constructionism and could explain these ideas to help disabuse him of some of his biased beliefs.

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  • Obviously, science is a social activity. The problem with calling it a social construct is that it does not reside in one society but rather in several, and so there are no coherent cultural values which plausibly could be said to dominate the value-ladenness of any given provisional theory or observation. So, the fact that individual scientists or even individual institutions of scientists may have value-biases is a correct but usually trivial observation. Yes, humans do science for humans, but across the whole population of science-doing and science-believing humans, there isn’t any consensus about, really, anything except for the broadest epistemological strokes of what science is and how it works. So, what, exactly, is really being said that is non-trivial when it is asserted that science is a social construct, that differs from pointing that out about each and every human activity?

    Latour’s Janus-face is an evocative description of the difference between phases of science from unsettled-to-settled, and likewise he has many fine and perceptive things to say about how individual societies adopt-and-implement or reject certain scientific findings (which is by far the more important and interesting half of the concept of science as socially constructed), but his arguments about science itself in the production and testing of hypotheses is muddled beyond belief; better to just go the full Feyerabend and argue methodological anarchism, and then work backwards into what remains broadly true about science if we assume that every scientist is in practice approaching the main features (hypothesis generation, theories of observation and instrumentation, dominant paradigm, etc.) differently. That residue of similarity is what science is, as distinct from other social activities.

  • You may as well say that language is just a social activity, since every culture has one, and thus we can’t say that language encodes values or bias. I think science does the same thing, but we have a hard time admitting it because we idealize science as something objective and bias-free. Science was formulated in a male-dominated society that was obsessed with colonialism and mercantilism; therefore the way inquiry was developed reflected the process ideals of domination and control. We still talk about interrogating nature and taming Time and Space because we’re trying to maintain the illusion of control over reality like it’s conquered territory.

    It’s not as if looking at science as a social construct makes it a futile pursuit or anything. Science is incredibly useful. And King C’s definition states that the constructionist admits that facts indeed influence scientific conclusions, just not in complete absence of values and biases. I’m truly at a loss to understand why that concept is so controversial.

  • I would say that a language is a social (consensus) activity, but language–the category itself–is just a bin with a bunch of languages in it, and about that bin we cannot really say that it is a social activity. So, a particular language pretty obviously encodes specific biases and values (probably in reality with a much lighter touch than Sapir-Wharf would have it), but languages in general are understood only functionally; what gets a thing put into the language bin is that it has features common to all languages, like a syntax, a grammar, a vocabulary, and so forth.

    Science is cross-cultural and intersocial. It is much more like language than a (particular) language, and like that distinction, is harder to describe in terms of value-ladenness and bias because no values and no bias seem to extend effectively across the whole (or even a majority of) the domain.

    Science was formulated in a male-dominated society that was obsessed with colonialism and mercantilism; therefore the way inquiry was developed reflected the process ideals of domination and control.

    Eh. Maybe at points in the past when science was more firmly tied to specific cultures and specific societies, this would have been a more pointed criticism. Today, though, many societies and a diverse array of individuals in those societies–that agree on very little else–are full participants in the scientific enterprise. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find the value-projection you posit in modern ecology, for example.

  • ephemerol

    Or in other words, you’re truly at a loss to understand what’s controversial about suggesting everyone ought to universally view things through a postmodernist lens.

    Is this supposed to be ironic, since along with skepticism of objective reality, which is I think the aspect we’re really balking at since that’s a foundational assumption of science, postmodernism also rejects universalism? Postmodernism isn’t the only game in town. There are other lenses available. Postmodernists, of all people, should be the ones embracing this.

    Among the primary advantages in using a lens, however, is in its conscious adoption, and the ability of the practitioner to deliberately switch between various lenses for various purposes. That value evaporates when the practitioner becomes unconscious of his lens, and therefore loses the ability to reflect on it, or to make other choices about what lens to use, at which point, he may begin to unwittingly circle back to inconsistently argue against himself, as you appear to be doing.

    Postmodernist ironically loses his sense of irony. Details at 11.

  • Ironically, I’m the one saying that there’s more than one lens we can use to view things, you seem to be saying there’s only one lens—teh Science—through which we derive valid knowledge.

    And I’m not taking what I consider a radical constructionist stance here. King C offered a constructionist definition for science that I think is pretty spot-on: scientific conclusions are derived from facts, but also from the values of the groups funding, performing, and interpreting the research. What’s so objectionable about that?

  • al kimeea

    Shem said – “No one’s saying other forms of empirical inquiry would conceptualize each and every natural phenomenon in a completely different way; it’s that different groups are bound to have different research aims and ways of defining inquiry, and—here’s relativism again—there’s not one uniquely privileged perspective.”

    Yet you say a water molecule, as defined by science, is a water molecule. There are people, today, who have a world view where water is not comprised of elements but is only one of five “that are real” (I’m quoting someone else here). There are others who claim water has a memory.

    Are these other narratives valid?

    How useful are they?

    Why should I privilege one of those over any other form of empirical inquiry?

  • You need to acknowledge that no one’s saying science hasn’t, or can’t come up with valid knowledge. No one’s disputing the molecular structure of water.

    What’s being disputed is the extent to which people’s historical and cultural mindset, and the values of the research community, affects the conclusions of the scientific inquiry humans conduct.

  • al kimeea

    I just gave you two examples of people disputing the structure of water, homeopathy is based on it.

  • What’s so objectionable about that?

    That, by-and-large, it’s wrong.

    Or, to be more specific, it seems to be only be true when it is true about peripheral and/or very new claims, and is basically never true about core ones. It’s not just “the structure of water” that is outside the meaningful scope of any value-ladenness, but also all discussions of chemical structure, all stoichiometry, all atomic theory, and, well, everything else you could choose to care to name as an operational concept in chemistry. It you dig deep, you might be able to find a way to describe the factual findings in chemistry in a different way than they are, but when nobody does, what’s the point of noting it might be otherwise? Descriptions are contingent and underdetermined by facts, but when consensus arises and is stable, noting the theoretical defeasibility of that consensus is only interesting in theory, and does not bear on any pragmatic or functional inquiries.

    When it comes time to instumentalize the findings of chemistry–to turn the discussion towards engineering and social policy in the context of what we can do with our knowledge–obviously this is where value-ladenness becomes very relevant and foolish to ignore. But it is an error to presume that because the instrumentality conversation is value-laden, than the knowledge-production apparatus which provides the instrumentalities must be so as well. Chemistry is still mere description, and you’d be hard pressed to find any normative residue in there.

  • And, pointedly, they are disputing the structure of water by disputing facts, not just interpretations of those facts.

  • I certainly don’t think that every single one of the core assumptions of every scientific discipline are all wrong, or that our values can change data points. What I don’t think people are comfortable acknowledging is the extent of bias in the way we conceptualize matters in science.

    Feminist primatologists, for example, were said to have run into problems in the formerly all-male field, but changed many of the mistaken assumptions their male colleagues never questioned about female primate psychology in the process. A researcher in the frog-biology field struggled against anti-LGBTQ bias to make discoveries in “escape hatching” that researchers more invested in their insider status overlooked. This disconfirms your belief that values are irrelevant at the level of observation. I know it annoys people to acknowledge the conformist atmosphere in scientific fields, but it happens to be backed up by evidence.

  • ephemerol

    Since when did realism equate to scientism? And how on earth can you possibly attempt to construe my comment as saying there’s only one lens, when I explicitly said the exact polar opposite?

    Who disputes that foregone “research” is sometimes bought to advance an ideological agenda? What I find objectionable, however, is calling the foregone conclusions derived from that ideology “scientific,” even if they masquerade as such among some for a brief time. That’s like calling creation science’s conclusions “scientific.” There’s nothing scientific about fraud. And you can’t keep fraud a secret for long.

    Not to say that any single instance of legitimate research is completely free of any biasing (so don’t bother trying that straw man) but that among a skeptical and diverse community of peers, those biases will get stripped out, and as 3lemenope said, you’re left with a broad consensus around observations that practically everyone agrees upon, not because of ideology, but because that’s what they all observe.

  • I certainly don’t think that every single one of the core assumptions of every scientific discipline are all wrong, or that our values can change data points.

    Well, that’s good, but I wasn’t under the impression that you did. The problem with your argument is the inverse: The vast majority of the core assumptions of the hard sciences are beyond significant doubt. As I said, in chemistry, none of the assumptions in the discipline seem value-laden in any relevant way. So, pretending like there is less certainty than there is in those sciences is an error of presentation. Physics is very similar. You have to go all the way out to social-science-heavy intersections like “the psychology of primates” to start finding places where the hard sciences are significantly value-laden; the periphery.

    It doesn’t “annoy” me to acknowledge that values are relevant to observation, it seems simply like a rather transparent magic trick. Most of the time, it simply isn’t true, and the few times it is one finds it at the periphery, where these fields have intersections with social science, humanities, and other obviously value-laden disciplines. How’s this: I will stipulate that there exist some examples of value-ladenness obscuring relevant description if you’ll stipulate that this is vanishingly rare in the physical sciences and that, when it does occur, it is because it is situated in a place that is already pretty self-consciously value-laden.

  • Since when did realism equate to scientism?

    I don’t know. How do you define realism? Do you think science is our only source of valid knowledge?

    among a skeptical and diverse community of peers, those biases will get stripped out,

    Okay, but how diverse? One of the main things feminists, for instance, have been saying is that the input of women is systemically excluded and de-emphasized in scientific fields as it is in the rest of society. King Crocoduck, of course, dismisses their complaint as if it’s self-evidently absurd. So why should we pat ourselves on the back for a commitment to diversity that may just be wishful thinking?

  • ephemerol

    What I don’t think people are comfortable acknowledging is the extent of bias in the way we conceptualize matters in science. Feminist primatologists, for example…

    I don’t think that people are as uncomfortable acknowledging any of this as you seem to be claiming. It’s long been said that science advances one funeral at a time. And it’s trivial to point out that science is done by human beings, not automata in lab coats, and so the scientific arena is affected by all the same discrimination and bigotry as any other arena. And therefore, what, scientists are then necessarily so prone to culturally bound mass hallucinations, and their percepts are so unreliable, that the promise of science can never be anything more than a pipe dream?

    The gist that I get from you, please correct me if I’m wrong, is that the valid knowledge is the exception, while the rule is that scientific conclusions are nothing more than constructions of pure ideology woven out of nothing more than people’s historical and cultural mindset, and that as an enterprise, science is not only mostly junk, but also is bereft of the potential to ever be anything else.

    The one question I’d ask is, since you appear to presume that others are lost in an historical and cultural haze, what makes you believe you’re any less lost? But surely, that’s the point. You believe you’re lost in that haze. But being that you believe that, what makes you believe you have any ability to discern whether or not the same is true of anyone besides your own befuddled mind? How do you know it isn’t just you?

  • ephemerol

    How do you define realism?

    What Is Critical Realism

    Okay, but how diverse? One of the main things feminists, for instance, have been saying is that the input of women is systemically excluded and de-emphasized in scientific fields as it is in the rest of society. King Crocoduck, of course, dismisses their complaint as if it’s self-evidently absurd. So why should we pat ourselves on the back for a commitment to diversity that may just be wishful thinking?

    How diverse? How about people from all around the world? Diversity isn’t only on the variables that you decide you want to focus on. And I don’t say “diversity” as a buzzword to pat anyone on the back about. I say it as a practical thing, that with numbers of non-yellow-pencils comes an increasing probability that any given bias in the work will be noticed and formally addressed by one peer or another.

    I don’t dismiss any of these prejudices, though. I am sure that there is still a bias against women in many places in the scientific world. Did you see Hidden Figures? Yep, despite how women have been mistreated and marginalized, remarkably, it didn’t put the NASA space program into such a chauvanistic hallucinatory tailspin so as to make the understanding of the male rocket scientists grasp of physics so completely part ways with the actual behavior of the spacecraft themselves as to make landing on the moon impossible. Unless, of course, you think the moon landings were just socially constructed mass hallucinations (what you seem to think science is), and didn’t actually happen.

    Furthermore, hasn’t there been a lot of social progress in society and in the scientific community, for example, since the 1960’s? I’m not saying it’s all perfect now or anything, but shouldn’t the partial shedding of those prejudices and biases, in your estimation, increase the value of scientific endeavors by a commensurate amount? But it doesn’t sound like you think that science is ever going to be anything other than intellectual junk, because until the people doing it are perfect then it’s going to be too compromised to be worth saving anyway.

    Honestly, I don’t see the connection between being a racist, or a mysogynist, and the ability to recognize that 2+2=4, or the ability to look through a telescope and measure the brightness of Cepheid variables in Andromeda, and in so doing determine it’s not just a nebula in the Milky Way, but a separate, distant galaxy in it’s own right. How does being prejudiced against other people make you prejudiced against your own sensory percepts? I don’t get it. It may make you a horrible person, but it doesn’t put you into a some kind of socially constrructed hallucinatory haze that makes you impervious to percepts.

    I don’t get this kind of binary thinking you’re doing, where either it’s perfect or it’s all just “wishful thinking.” This is not a real argument, but just an excuse you’re tossing out. This is not a reason to reject science. People who do this are usually doing it because science is stepping on some kind of woo-woo they hold dear, but they don’t want to come out and say that, so they trash it without really being willing to cite their actual reasons why they don’t like it.

  • al kimeea

    The entire alt-med industry operates like that, as you know.

    Interpretation of facts… ya many religionists don’t dispute the evidence around archaeology, paleontology, geology or biology because Satan planted it as a test of faith. I’ve lost count how many faithful go down that road.

    As far as the OP goes, of course science is a social construct. What else could it be? It just happened to have been constructed by someone in Europe, when it could have been formalized anywhere else, say China. They were doing sciency things – gunpowder, rudimentary cruise misslies – they just didn’t call it that.

    Interesting that the first mention of quackupuncture in Chinese medical texts (c. 300CE) involves tools looking a lot like ancient Greek bloodletting instruments and the insertion points correspond to the Greek as well… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/31e078904552babb8ae67b2935f993913d3e529a0f5e5294b61205b7ad378beb.jpg

  • al kimeea

    I watch a lot of cosmology on TV. Just as many women talking as men. Also plenty of girls better at math and science than me. Almost half the class for Cobol was women. Oh, anecdotes I know…

    Doesn’t mean some men aren’t misogynist pricks or that society raises girls differently. Hell, the VP of our high-school told my wife her only aspiration could be secretarial. Ma pulled her out not long after.

    Also wanted to mention, the new COSMOS addresses the ‘old boys club of science’ a couple of times. IIRC, it was woman who realised the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was an actual thing. Take off yer shoes and get back in the kitchen, said the boys club. One man even set out for the bottom of the ocean to prove her wrong. He sheepishly apologised upon surfacing.

  • Sorry, I think you’re attributing a lot of beliefs to me that nothing I’ve ever written here would suggest. I’ve never accused scientists of mass hallucinations, and I never characterized science as mostly junk. I just happen to think that skepticism is a good thing, especially if it’s about something we all tend to idealize.

  • I don’t get this kind of binary thinking you’re doing, where either it’s perfect or it’s all just “wishful thinking.”

    You seem like an expert in binary thinking, the way you seem to think that applying skepticism to science is indistinguishable from dismissing it as junk. Anytime you feel like talking to me like I’m not some crackpot conspiracist is just fine by me.

  • Chud Nerdington

    This seems like bullshit to me.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Everyone owes it to themselves to check out the work of Steven Novella. https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/science-is-not-colonialism/

  • Thanks for citing that, but it’s just more of the same bigoted condescension heaped onto the female student from South Africa whom King Croc excoriated in the video I linked above. Sure, she overstated her case by talking about witchcraft, and she certainly would have chosen her words more carefully if she had known they were going to be broadcast the length and breadth of the science-fan blogosphere. But she deserves better than the knee-jerk derision of Novella and his cronies. Colonialism has always been about the cultural and cognitive rewiring of conquered peoples, through imposing language, religion and science on them. If the colonial subjects want to make decisions about what forms of inquiry fit their culture, and not just adopt ones that are useful to Western corporate and military interests, that’s up to them.

    Novella also indulges in some extremely trite science cheerleading:

    Science is transcultural. Science is, I would argue, anti-culture, it is inherently, therefore, anti-colonial. That is because the very essence of science is to seek objective truth that is separate from the assumptions of any particular culture. Science is about breaking cultural assumptions, dethroning authority and tradition, and using a transparent and egalitarian process to figure out what is really true.

    This science-as-Romantic-hero folklore ignores the real history and social role of science in our civilization, which is just as often that of legitimizing social inequities and enabling exploitation, oppression and slaughter. Novella tries to handwave away this aspect of scientific inquiry by (of course) claiming that it’s not science’s fault that bad people have misused it. This is even more folkloric, as if science is the One Ring or something. The truth is that science can only be defined in terms of how humans and cultures define and conduct it.

  • Neko

    You wrote:

    And therefore, what, scientists are then necessarily so prone to culturally bound mass hallucinations, and their percepts are so unreliable, that the promise of science can never be anything more than a pipe dream?

    Holy leap of logic Batman!

  • Neko
  • That’s quite a charge, labeling Novella a bigot who has “cronies.” Oddly enough, he was accused of the opposite by Dawkins defenders in 2016 for calling out some of the latter individual’s controversial remarks. But I digress.

    The student in the video went much further than merely overstating her case re: witchcraft (which, I hope I don’t need to say, is troubling enough). Starting at 2:50, she complains about gravity as something Newton and Europeans in general foisted on the world without question or regard to other explanations (what does she have in mind?). And yes, she is, in fact, talking about wiping all “Western” knowledge – including this bit about gravity – away, as she makes clear starting at 3:54, saying “So, decolonizing the science would mean doing away with it entirely and starting all over again to deal with how we respond to it and how we understand it.”

    In other words, the bulk of the video is this student complaining that science as we know it today is entirely a product of colonialism and thus must be done away with. It is not bigoted to describe her attitude here as one of profound and willful ignorance. And it should go without saying that regardless of who elucidated gravitational theory, it works on people from every culture, of every ethnicity and skin color, and every religious background. No amount of privilege will keep you from falling if you decide to try walking on air.

    Let me be perfectly clear: I think the student’s complaints are legitimate, but are misdirected. Her frustration has nothing to do with science, per se, but rather the history of science and the cultural chauvinism involved in thinking Westerners only are responsible for (or contributed to) it. We aren’t. Not by a long shot.

  • For the record, I didn’t call Novella a bigot. I called his condescension bigoted, which it is.

    The reason that this tempest-in-a-teapot burned like AXE-scented wildfire through the bro-science blogosphere in 2016, and the reason it still enrages people like King Croc, is in no small part because it features a female of foreign provenance making lefty noises about science. As I said in the OP, science was the fuel of colonialism, and we still resent anyone questioning its authority. The issue with different conceptions of science isn’t that they’re impossible or unworkable, they’re simply inconceivable to a Western mind conditioned to being able to tell the rest of the world what’s true and what’s not.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Pure nonsense. Anyone who would be persuaded by your post isn’t thinking clearly.

  • Um, and you’ve offered anything persuasive yourself?

  • ephemerol

    I did say to correct me if I’m wrong, and I wasn’t kidding about that, so thank you.

    Frankly, I don’t know what you’re saying half the time because it’s a mismash. For example, OTOH, you express relativism, but OTOH, creationism is a “ludicrous hoax.” If “there’s not one uniquely privileged perspective,” then what’s the privileged perspective you’re claiming when you judge creationism? If you want to claim relativism, you’re contradicting yourself when you call out what really is a social construction as a hoax.

    My problem with the postmodernist constructivist view of science doesn’t stem from a belief that in the real world, how science gets done isn’t affected by the values and biases of the scientists who perform it, or that science ought not be “accountable to anyone,” or that we ought not maintain a healthy and balanced skepticism of its provisional conclusions. I would have thought that the sheer fact its conclusions are always provisional, and that skepticism, such as you advocate, is explicitly part of the peer review aspect of the scientific method. I would have thought that alone should make such statements about skepticism of science being somehow off-limits patently out-of-court from the get-go. But you have to recognize that what you’re doing is ignoring the skepticism that is already built-in to science, pretending that doesn’t exist, and instead characterizing a postmodernist skepticism of science as an endeavor, in principle, which is a dismissal of it, as though what you’re questioning is equivalent to merely the healthy skepticism that science already embodies, and that I’m somehow being dogamatic and engaging in binary thinking by not being able to tolerate “any skepticism to science,” and that somehow I don’t think skepticism is a good thing. I think skepticism is a GREAT thing! I think it’s great that science is an inherently skeptical endeavor. Sorry, I think you’re attributing a lot of beliefs to me that nothing I’ve ever written here would suggest.

    It’s no secret that science is predicated upon some properly basic assumptions. The reason why this is so is because a) there’s some basic things that mere humans will never be able to make direct observations of or deductive arguments for, and b) to assume otherwise would be defeatist. As many a religious apologist loves to point out, science is therefore a circular argument, which is mundane since its not viciously circular. They’re circular in the same sense that inductive arguments are circular. The scientific enterprise could be thought of as an inductive argument for its foundational assumptions which grows slowly stronger over time.

    But postmodernism does assume otherwise. It dismisses the entire potential of science right down at its very root. It assumes there’s no objective reality to be investigated and thus how can it submit to being investigated? That’s fine for a philosopher in his armchair on a Saturday afternoon in Boodles, but if a researcher were to assume that, then that would lead to expecting that trying to investigate the sort of objective generative mechanisms assumed by realists (and scientists) would lead to observations that would be unresolvably contradictory, since each observation would be generated by something relative, or perhaps even by nothing at all. Those observations could be generated by nothing more than the relative state of one’s own unconscious psyche, or by his own personal values and biases, and not even by any externally generated percepts at all. Why should a peer expect to ever be able to replicate the previous findings of another scientist? Just the fact that this peer had different personal values and biases should all by itself suggest we shouldn’t expect that to happen. And if he did, why should he take that to be anything other than the product of his pre-existing expectation, either at the observational stage, when they compared notes, or both?

    And before I go on, I’d think I need to point out that I’m not making any claims for the interpretations that scientists might then make from the data. That is, of course, something the scientists invent and bring to the table. But that’s further down the road. I don’t see how postmodernism hasn’t already assumed the data itself is already unreliable because the most basic underlying substrate of the environment is itself inherently unreliable.

    Yes, you say that:

    Scientific inquiry is a for-us-by-us research program, a collective human endeavor that involves observing, interpreting, and arranging facts about the world; I can’t see how anyone could deny that culture and politics influence how science is defined and conducted.

    But what is an “observation”? What is a “fact”? If we assume that there are no objective generative mechanisms, then what is an observation? What value is there in “arranging facts”? As an art project? Yes, you say that science is “incredibly useful,” but to what end? In context, it really sounds like, sure, it’s useful, but the adjective is just a colloquialism. The actual uses to which it can be put are really quite limited. If you accept “every mainstream scientific theory,” why? Upon what basis? What purpose do they serve, in your estimation? Aren’t the “big bang,” evolution, global warming, and the rest of the shmeer, to a postmodernist, just inventions predicated upon constructions? I can only surmise that when you claim to accept them, you do so using assumptions that render the raw data behind them as little more than literary inventions themselves, mirrors in which we see ourselves, rather than windows in which we see beyond ourselves. Do I need to say that the mission statement of science, to scientists, is more than just to joust at windmills? A great model is different than a great novel.

    This would stand in stark contrast to the basis upon which I accept them, as our best, provisional guesses at underlying external objective mechanisms, which we assume left the dots behind we call data, which we subsequently attempt to connect in a quest to understand the mechanism that generated them. It’s fine if you object to the connotations of the words “hallucination,” or “junk.” That’s what I would call data if I assumed there existed nothing objective to investigate, and science, if I assumed it were nothing more than grand invention, a piece of great literature like Don Quixote. Why? Because it would be completely inadequate to fulfill the purposes of those who do science, the foundational assumptions upon which it was predicated would not hold, and all of it’s results would be invalid pursuant to its reason for existing. What’s more, it would be totally bereft of the potential to ever live up to its reason for existing. You, are, of course, welcome to characterize it in any way you see fit.

    I don’t deny that culture and politics, values and biases, influence how science gets done. Yes, they affect who is listened to and who is ignored at any particular juncture in history. For example, there was a time when Albright, or Glueck were the Cat’s Meow in archaeological circles and they were the ones who were listened to. If they lived today and advanced the same ideas, they wouldn’t even have careers. That they were listened to then but wouldn’t be now, I have no doubt this is both because we have a lot of data today that nobody had yet back then, but also because of the cultural values and biases of yesteryear. Glueck would write in 1959 that “As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference,” despite the fact that just the year before, Kenyon (a woman!) published findings from Jericho that controverted the biblical references to Joshua’s siege, findings which still stand to this day, despite being challenged by those still carrying a torch for Albright (for reasons that are nothing if not cultural and political). I can only assume Glueck wasn’t all that interested in Kenyon’s work due to his biases, otherwise he wouldn’t have let that pass into publication, even though the establishment as a whole did listen to her. But eventually, how science got done, in the 1920’s, or the 1950’s or the 1990’s or even now, or who was famous, and who was listened to at the time, is less important, I would contend, than the collective datasets, and the signal in that data eventually cuts through the noise of the values and biases that get more diverse, and look more like random noise, as the decades and centuries pass. The values and the biases are constantly changing and being challenged, but the data does not change, nor does it go away, and the raw data itself, once it makes it into the library of the peerage, it never stops speaking. A hundred years from now, the raw data that is collected now will speak to the researchers who are working then, and the values, the biases, and the interpretations they inspire now don’t amount to a hill of beans if in 100 years time those who are listening to it then have a more explanatory one.

    I don’t think this is an idealization of science. It is an accepting of it, warts and all, in the expectation that it has the realistic potential to live up to what I consider to nevertheless be a remakable and awe-inspiring set of promises. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it won’t live up to it. Not all of it’s dividends are positive. Yes, we have things that have raised our standard of living, but they’ve also created a surveillance state. Particle physics has brought us the internet, but also nuclear weapons. Even so, I would still argue there’s a difference between the science and the technology it spawns. But I don’t accept postmodernist assumptions for largely the same reason I don’t accept the “brain-in-the-vat” hypothesis. I don’t see the evidence I would expect to see if that were true, but then again, my percepts are suspect under postmodernist assumptions, because maybe I’m just seeing what I’ve constructed for myself out of my cultural values and biases.

    If you even think there is a signal, which postmodernism would deny, to go to on to assert the postmodernist assumption that an apt description of science is as a mere social construct is to argue that, effectively, the noise is what’s important, and as such, it is assumed that it is drowning out any signal that could possibly be there anyway. If we were to take that to the bank, how many people would judge it worth the money and effort considering we already have novelists to serve that function for us, and they do it much more efficiently. If the particle found by the LHC with a mass of 125 GeV is a social construct, we’re spending waaaay too much on our social constructs.

  • ephemerol

    However, by the postmodernist assumption of fundamental relativism rather than anything objective, and that it were just a social construct in the postmodernist sense, science would be no different than religion, in that if all of science were wiped out, like religion, it would never be created exactly that same way again, because there is no truth to still be true to be rediscovered. So it’s tantamount to calling science another religion. Science is only as perfect as the people who do it, which is to say, it isn’t, but that doesn’t make it a religion, even if there are some people who do idealize it.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/71199c91815860ac3a317b44eb8cd12ba3f47bca8c364958e16598606d1fe428.jpg

  • ephemerol

    See my other comment.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Referring to Novella’s take as “bigoted condescension” is absurd on its face. Besides yours, there are millions of other poor arguments I don’t waste my time with, either.

  • al kimeea

    great handle.

  • al kimeea

    Maybe if that girl had a better education in science, she wouldn’t have said anything about witchcraft. If that line of inquiry has any validity:

    – what has it taught us about anything?

    – of what use is it?

    There are people, children, being burned alive today for witchcraft. People die in exorcisms, even Maori ones – an adult and 14 year old in one case – both women. Today. Including Western Europe.

    I know of these things from having read the essays of a gentleman who was born into a culture like hers, where at a minimum, people are pariahs, shunned by their in-group. Or they die, horribly.

    I’d wager quatloos to donuts, there’s an albino who believes in witchcraft. It has nothing to do with how much protection from the sun skin might give people. Salem? There’s a different Salem near us. It’s where all the witches live. Not many people of significantly much more recent African descent.

    In fact, there’s a thing called the Female Holocaust in which witchcraft played some role. I worked with Serbians for whom vampires are a real concern and anyone with a Tesla Wave Machine can heal whatever ails you.

    Coburg ON wasted time, money & effort looking into a Satanic Panic case thanks to “recovered memories” and one cop’s faith. Hey look, skeptical of five narratives at once, including 2 sciencey “kinds”. Hyper-skeptical?

    Witchcraft predates science, as does misogyny, racism, slavery, homophobia, oppression, slaughter, genocide… all these things you rail against existed before the thing at whose feet you lay them even had a name.

    At whose feet did they lay them?

    At what altar did fanbois hang then?

  • al kimeea

    “the reason it still enrages people like King Croc, is in no small part
    because it features a female of foreign provenance making lefty noises about science”

    Um, socialist here. I can’t comment on the rest of what she said, but witchcraft, is nonsense and deserves ridicule and scorn for the needless suffering and deaths it causes. Same for homeopaths and their science narrative.

    I would say the same thing even if it were some old white dude from Austria.

    “science was the fuel of colonialism”

    Yep, Columbus sailed under the flag of 3.14 and his priests were the top anthropologists of their day as they forced their faith on the Taino at the end of a blade.

    What’s the science behind cutting off the natives hands and forcing them to wear them for a necklace as a warning to the other godless pagans to collect more gold for two thrones of divine providence?

    In the 900s, a Muslim did this (WikiP):

    Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes): refutation of Aristotelian classical elements and Galenic humorism; and discovery of measles and smallpox, and kerosene and distilled petroleum

    In 1242, also 100s of years before any old white dude from Europe:

    Ibn al-Nafis: pulmonary circulation and circulatory system

    Were those two brilliant minds indoctrinated, conditioned by old white men from Europe?

    The word scientist first appears in the early 1800s and “natural philosophy” around 1400.

    Yet colonialism is only driven by science…

  • al kimeea

    Exactly. In this instance race, sex, & culture are the red-herrings used to deflect from the nonsense being touted. I don’t care where you live, or your origins, witchcraft is stooopid and was taken as fact by old white men from Europe for centuries. A rainbow coalition of people today, still buy into it. There is no relevance.

    Are women discriminated against in science? No surprise here. They’ve been discriminated against in everything else for centuries before the Enlightenment. Male dominated societies tend to do that.

    Does that invalidate a woman’s ideas? No.

    Does that mean women can’t have ridiculous ideas, on par with that of any man? No again

    Should any idea be rejected based on origin alone? No.

    Should any idea be rejected simply because it conflicts with our accumulated body of knowledge. No. BUT, you better have some compelling evidence in support.

    Cold fusion, does not. Neither does homeopathy, which being less far removed from the street than cold fusion, actually causes needless pain, suffering and harm if you don’t die from it. Old white guys and young black girls both preach it and equally get my scorn.

    We now have compelling evidence that life began here much earlier and must revise ideas about Gaia’s history as a result. It’s messy. Yet, I’m delusional to think scientists might correct each other.

    Maybe you know what the science is behind Manifest Destiny. IIRC history class made no mention of it, nor did any science class.

  • Al, I told you to leave me out of your flippant little rants. And I meant it.

  • Thanks for the response. And what a response! I’m going to try to give it the attention it deserves, and not just cherry-pick comments, because I think there’s a lot of food for thought there and I’m hoping it will serve as the basis for an interesting dialogue. But first I think I should deal with the differences in the way we define things like relativism, postmodernism and constructionism, because I think you’re still making assumptions about my positions that aren’t accurate.

    I don’t define relativism as the opinion that “nothing is real and everything is a matter of opinion.” I see it as a perspectival approach to truth claims. There’s a certain range of perspectives from which we assess phenomena, and those perspectives come with their own (not completely mutually-exclusive, necessarily) sets of assumptions and value systems. Data points don’t have magic power to change minds and stimulate progress, the way scientific communities assemble, interpret and apply them is what creates cogent scientific narratives and inspires consensus. Relativism gets a bad rap: it doesn’t say that nothing is true, it says that the way we determine truth is a much more complicated and context-sensitive process than we’re used to admitting. The geocentrism-heliocentrism matter that King C discusses in his video is a vindication of relativism, not a sign of its weakness: people are looking at the same data, but creating different models to arrange and interpret it. The paradigm that can create the most cogent narrative will be the one that scientists and reasonable people will affirm.

    We really differ in our definitions of postmodernism if you characterize it as an approach that “dismisses the entire potential of science right down at its very root.” Have you ever read Thomas Kuhn? King Croc was right to say that Kuhn has been misinterpreted by some radical constructionists, but I think that Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions at least pointed the way to a postmodern conception of science. He challenged the idea that science is a progressive, skeptical, and totally fact-based endeavor by describing the milieu of scientific research as a practice characterized by social-institutional conformism rather than free-thinking. Normal science is a network of problem-solving activities that generate a lot of useful data and surprising discoveries, but it’s making nature fit the model. The foundational assumptions of a paradigm are wholly unquestioned by researchers busy with problem-solving, making the endeavor largely an exercise in self-validation. This is what I consider postmodernism as it applies to inquiry: an approach to science that emphasizes the influence of theory and ideology on how scientific research is conducted and interpreted, and questions the primacy of facts and evidence on the scientific program. Kuhn also said that scientific progress consists in going from one state of knowledge to another, not getting incrementally closer to some true and complete description of reality. This might rankle someone whose ideas about progress and truth are bound up in an idealized notion of scientific inquiry, but it’s being more realistic about science as a social activity.

    The way you make it sound like socially constructed phenomena are somehow just made-up stuff indicates another difference in our definitions. Social construction doesn’t mean “totally arbitrary and a matter of personal opinion.” Civic boundaries and literature are socially constructed phenomena too, but if I say Lake Tahoe is in Nevada rather than California, or that the main character of Hamlet is a lizard, I’m objectively wrong. To me, the social construction of science doesn’t completely delegitimize its program, it just indicates that it’s a human endeavor and thus needs to be defined in terms of the social context in which it was developed and is conducted. I’m not disputing that there are scientific facts, or that these facts are the basis of coherent theories and useful applications. But scientific inquiry is a for-us-by-us construct, a research program that makes reality intelligible to those with human consciousness. Of course it’s going to reflect the social and cultural realities of the societies who conduct it. When we talk about “objective reality,” we should assert that it’s imprudent to deny it; but we should also acknowledge that even what we consider “objective” can never be separated from the forms of inquiry employed to explore and explain it.

    My main dispute with what you say is your assertion that raw data has power to inspire progress. I’m sorry, I consider that nothing short of magical thinking. Cogency in scientific communication has to do not only with data, but with the rhetorical and dialectical abilities of researchers as well as the social-institutional contexts of inquiry itself. We like to say we “follow the evidence wherever it leads,” but that’s just because we’ve learned how to use facts to validate what we already believe. And that’s everybody, me included.

    You mentioned the LHC, and I think you’re right that we’re “spending waaaay too much on our social constructs.” That’s another thing that bothers me: the way scientific research is conducted has become a function of its profitability for labs, corporations, and the military. More and more expensive equipment is necessary for researching things with less and less relevance to human existence (except for consumer products). If the alliance between scientific inquiry and corporate power doesn’t bother you, maybe we have different expectations concerning what the role of science should be in our society.

    I may sound cynical in the way I talk about science fans, but I’m truly interested in science. I appreciate the human effort and activity that has created what we currently know about the universe. I just feel that something so important to our civilization needs to be kept in perspective, and that’s a lot different than dismissing it as junk. People who consider themselves freethinkers and skeptics abandon their skepticism when the subject is science, because science represents for them a source of unquestionable authority on some level, something they can wield against their religious or conspiracist foes. Imposing conformity of opinion on others, whether through religion or science, isn’t what freethought is about.

    I realize I didn’t hit on every point you made in your thoughtful post, but I’m short on time here at the paycheck factory. I hope my response can at least bring the dialogue forward. Thanks again for the reply.

  • al kimeea

    Shem, how is anyone to leave you out of their reasoned arguments about things, when it is Shem who writes essays about things on the intertoobs for others to read and freely discuss? This is not a rhetorical question.

    You, like me, express great concern for unnecessary suffering. You do not deny that science works or that it has demonstrated great worth.

    Then you use witchcraft as an example of a different cultural line of inquiry and as a worthy alternative to, and on a par with, science, despite the two notions being diametrically opposed.

    I have mentioned homeopathy more than once, and how it causes real harm and useless deaths. I’ve explained how it works. If this girl had been ranting about that I’d mock her mercilessly.

    Just like I do the originator, Sammy Hahneman(?), an ignorant, old white dude from what was to become Germany.

    Any thoughts on homeopathy?

  • I know I’m not supposed to question a celebrity atheist, but I don’t know why we should believe Jillette’s claim that “If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”

    Modern science was developed in a civilization that was characterized my male dominance, colonialism, and mercantilism. If a society with a different set of social aims as well as beliefs about things like causation, observation, intelligence and agency were to develop forms of empirical inquiry, who’s to say they’d come up with the exact state of scientific knowledge we have today? And since science is a provisional, cumulative inductive process, isn’t it a little premature to call our scientific knowledge “true” in the first place?

  • Then you use witchcraft as an example of a different cultural line of inquiry and as a worthy alternative to, and on a par with, science, despite the two notions being diametrically opposed.

    In fact, I said nothing of the sort.

    I warned you a few times now about putting words in my mouth, but it’s obvious you’re not getting the message. Take the rest of the day off, think about it, and come back tomorrow.

  • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

    Yep, Columbus sailed under the flag of 3.14 and his priests were the top anthropologists of their day …

    well, he apparently was clever enough to use a lunar eclipse to intimidate the natives (wikipedia).

  • Neko

    I was horrified by this farrago of nonsense and would have walked out when that pious little tyrant started browbeating me.

    That guy should’ve held his ground.

  • I can’t help but feel bad for the student, even though she was laying on the drama-queen act pretty heavily. I was mistaken in saying it was from last year; the video went viral in October 2016. It seems a little unfair to take some immoderate comments made in the context of a classroom in South Africa, broadcast it around the world, and make this student the black, foreign, female, lefty target of rage for science fans everywhere.

  • You and I have a different view of what “absurd” means. Novella concludes his blog post by saying this:

    Unfortunately the video, in my opinion, shows people who have the certainty of self-righteous fury (even if the fury itself is historically justified), and who believe that shutting down discussion and shaming those who might disagree with them is the way to advance their misguided cause.

    I think the tidal wave of patronizing scorn from science-fans that this video inspired qualifies as “self-righteous fury” if anything does.

  • Neko

    You have a point, there. I would be dismayed if the stupid things I said yesterday were broadcast for all the world to see and without the excuse of youth. But this stuff is downright pernicious, and that guy was absolutely right to cry out, “It’s not true!”

    The irony is that race theory appropriates the constructs of the white racists who devised race theory in the first place. I have first-hand experience with people laboring under the delusion that because the dominant culture is and has been historically racist they have access to a reliable alternative epistemology derived from: race! “African” identity is also a modern invention. The European conquerers didn’t encounter a people with “African” loyalties, or the slave trade would’ve never gotten traction. As in antiquity, social identity developed in relation to tribes or nations. Indeed, European slave traders failed to do business among African tribes where slavery wasn’t culturally accepted.

    Mind you, this student suggested Western science should be eradicated completely and started from scratch. “Immoderate” is quite a gentle term for ignorant totalitarianism. Just appalling on so many levels. Meanwhile when the witch doctor devises an iPhone 10 for less than a thousand bucks we’ll talk.

  • But what is an “observation”? What is a “fact”? If we assume that there are no objective generative mechanisms, then what is an observation? What value is there in “arranging facts”? As an art project? Yes, you say that science is “incredibly useful,” but to what end? In context, it really sounds like, sure, it’s useful, but the adjective is just a colloquialism. The actual uses to which it can be put are really quite limited. If you accept “every mainstream scientific theory,” why? Upon what basis? What purpose do they serve, in your estimation? Aren’t the “big bang,” evolution, global warming, and the rest of the shmeer, to a postmodernist, just inventions predicated upon constructions? I can only surmise that when you claim to accept them, you do so using assumptions that render the raw data behind them as little more than literary inventions themselves, mirrors in which we see ourselves, rather than windows in which we see beyond ourselves. Do I need to say that the mission statement of science, to scientists, is more than just to joust at windmills? A great model is different than a great novel.

    I thought this paragraph deserved more attention, now that I’ve got more time to respond.

    I don’t dispute that researchers make observations, and that there exist scientific facts. However, it’s not as if data points arrange and interpret themselves. We consider things facts if they fit in with the way we understand the world. There’s no way to define truth in the scientific sense that doesn’t refer back to the consensus of experts, motivated by cogent arguments. Philosophers of science consider the aim of scientific inquiry to create arguments, in a sense. Scientists themselves aren’t logically compelled by data points, they carry on discussion and debate about various interpretations. Unless we acknowledge the communal, competitive nature of science, we’re not dealing with how science is actually conducted.

    I accept the validity of the Big Bang, evolution, and the rest of mainstream science because scientific consensus is meaningful; I assume scientists oughta know. The scientific program, and all scientific theories, are human inventions, but that just goes to show how real and useful human inventions are. Scientific knowledge is objective in the sense that it would be imprudent to deny its validity; but it’s not objective in the sense that you appear to define it, as referring to a deeper, more valid reality that’s completely independent of the ways humans have experienced and studied it. That’s not a scientific matter, it’s pure metaphysics.

    I hope you’ll be back to continue this dialogue, and I look forward to your response.

  • al kimeea

    LOL he certainly did. My history teacher did mention it. Heron of Alexandria had his wee steam engines used by the priests to demonstrate the power of the gods to the faithful. After drugging them, iirc.

  • al kimeea

    Let’s say the society as you described it, this more equitable one, was what did come before I was born. All else being equal or even with women on top, in this equitable society people still drive to the CN Tower, Grand Canyon or visit Lourdes or the Taj Mahal.

    What does that mean for a molecule of water? Or vaccines.

    Would this other, more equitable form of inquiry produce the means to take this photo:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f6af5da053a6946de702b2a7016576d7c4cd02808ccbb7a08b36a1885ef71bc.jpg

    If not, I’ll stick to the one that can honour Cassini and make vaccines. The one Big Pharma used to cure me for free – germ theory.

    These things are quite recent developments, only within the last few hundred years has science been a formalized thing. It was not the first line of inquiry to come along. There were several prior systems of thought and it wasn’t until natural philosophy came along that vaccines became widespread – even though Muslims had an inkling hundreds of years before.

  • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

    i’m rather impressed with heron, even if his automata and engines were “just toys” (more than with columbus, actually, who just used the astronomy and science by others, as far as i know). it’s interesting to speculate how our world would look like if the industrial revolution happend earlier (and why it didn’t). another thing heron is famous for is an “automatic theater”:

    “Hero also invented many mechanisms for the Greek theater, including an entirely mechanical play almost ten minutes in length, powered by a binary-like system of ropes, knots, and simple machines operated by a rotating cylindrical cogwheel. The sound of thunder was produced by the mechanically-timed dropping of metal balls onto a hidden drum.”

    see also this mactutor biography (with this justification for his toys:

    “Although all this seems very trivial for a scientist to be involved with, it would appear that Heron is using these toys as a vehicle for teaching physics to his students. It seems to be an attempt to make scientific theories relevant to everyday items that students of the time would be familiar with.”)

  • al kimeea

    Yes Heron was brilliant as was Hypatia of Alexandria:

    Towards the end of her life, Hypatia advised Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, who was in the midst of a feud with Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria.

    Rumors spread accusing her of preventing Orestes from reconciling with Cyril and, in March 415 AD, she was murdered by a mob of Christian monks known as the parabalani under the leadership of a lector named Peter.

    Hypatia’s death shocked the empire and transformed her into a “martyr for philosophy”, leading future Neoplatonists such as Damascius to become increasingly fervent in their opposition to Christianity.

    During the Middle Ages, Hypatia was co-opted as a symbol of Christian virtue and scholars believe she was part of the basis for the legend of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. During the Age of Enlightenment, she became a symbol of opposition to Catholicism. In the nineteenth century,

    Oh the irony of a female philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, shredded by a mob of xtian extremists using sea shells, becoming a symbol of xian virtue. This alone, set back the development of irony meters by centuries.

    No surprise though, as Saturnalia just happened and the feast of Eoster is just around the corner… It’s what VatiCorp does. Funny, she later became a symbol of opposition to the nipple headed old men in funny dresses inhabiting the palace built on the bodies of natives in Rome.

    Her flag was raised by the fat old white men behind The Enlightenment to oppose a narrative that was still killing people for asking questions about it.

    Heron made machines that dispensed x amount of liquid per coin put in the slot, which were in use. Not just toys, proofs of concept and teaching tools (wasn’t sure of that, tx). The mind boggles if his ideas weren’t to become pagan heresy within a few centuries as decreed by the authorities.

  • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

    well, i find it a bit sad that her murder is mostly what she’s known for (including the “”martyr for philosophy” bit). i’d also quote this part of of her wikipedia page:

    “Although no writings definitely written by her have survived, it is thought that she may have edited the surviving texts of Euclid’s Elements and Ptolemy’s Almagest and possibly co-written some of the commentaries attributed to her father Theon of Alexandria. She also wrote a thirteen-volume commentary on Diophantus’s Arithmetica, which may survive in part, having been interpolated into Diophantus’s original text, and an eight-volume popularization of Apollonius of Perga’s treatise on conic sections, which has not survived.”

    euclid’s elements, ptolemy’s almagest, diophantus’s arithmetica, apollonius’s conic sections … not bad.

    anyway, it’s maybe good to keep in mind that orestes, the prefect, was apparently a recent convert to christianity:

    “Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, who was also a close friend of Hypatia[28][16] and a recent convert to Christianity,[67][16] was outraged by Cyril’s actions and sent a scathing report to the emperor.[64][68][16] The conflict escalated and a riot broke out in which the parabalani, a group of monks under Cyril’s authority, nearly killed Orestes.[64] As punishment, Orestes had Ammonius, the monk who had started the riot, publicly tortured to death.[64][69] Cyril tried to proclaim Ammonius a martyr,[64][69] but Christians in Alexandria were disgusted,[69] since Ammonius had been killed for inciting a riot and attempting to murder the governor, not for his faith.[69]”

    “The monks assaulted Orestes and accused him of being a pagan. Orestes rejected the accusations, showing that he had been baptised by the Archbishop of Constantinople. However, the monks were not satisfied, and one of them, Ammonius, threw a stone and hit Orestes in the head, and so much blood flowed out that he was covered in it. Orestes’ guard, fearing to be stoned by the monks, fled leaving Orestes alone. The people of Alexandria, however, came to his help, captured Ammonius and put the monks to flight.” (wikipedia: “orestes (prefect)”)

    another interesting story about hypatia:

    “Damascius states that Hypatia remained a lifelong virgin[16][40] and that, when one of the men who came to her lectures tried to court her, she tried to sooth his lust by playing the lyre.[16][41][39][b] When he refused to abandon his pursuit, she rejected him outright,[16][41][39] displaying her bloody menstrual rags and declaring “This is what you really love, my young man, but you do not love beauty for its own sake.”[16][41][39][35] Damascius further relates that the young man was so traumatized that he abandoned his desires for her immediately.[16][41][39] “

  • Chud Nerdington

    He acknowledges that fury is justified. There is no bigoted condescension, as you now seem to be retreating from. The horrible history of racism and colonialism does not give anyone a free pass to declare their local magic claims are scientific. If your cure for racism and colonialism is weakening science to allow any flight of fancy, you are not helping anyone. There are many bad-faith actors who would be happy to redefine science in the manner you suggest, white supremacists among them.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Seriously, I don’t argue with flat-earthers, either. You could say I have self-righteous fury regarding that issue also.

  • The problem is that even supposed freethinkers like Sam Harris are convinced that their local magic claims constitute legitimate science. No one’s expecting society to redefine science, they just want science to validate their prejudices.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Why’d you change the subject? My advice to you is to change your focus. Once you succeed in destroying the system, you’re not going to like what replaces it.

  • Chud Nerdington

    Instead of “change your focus”, I should have said “rethink your priorities”.

  • How am I trying to “destroy the system”? I’m just saying that skepticism of science is a good thing, since science is already used to legitimize racism and sexism.

  • al kimeea

    Ya, not bad for heathen and a mere woman. I guess the traumatized young man didn’t want to earn his wings, if he had a moustache.

  • al kimeea

    any thing else used to legitimize those things? what was used 650, or 2000 years ago?

  • al kimeea

    “No one’s expecting society to redefine science, they just want science to validate their prejudices.”

    How would you validate the prejudice for witchcraft? Today, not in some imagined universe.

    Specifically, the claim made by the speaker that a spell can invoke lightning. Targeted lightning

    Or the claim that water has a memory? – a european man’s pet project that I vehemently oppose because it causes utterly unnecessary pain, suffering and death.

    Or that vaccines cause autism? – another project from a white european male that I vehemently oppose because it causes utterly unnecessary pain, suffering and death.

    Or that waving a burning hunk of mugwort around will cure what ails you? – Chinese nonsense but practiced by fat old white guys everywhere – another narrative that causes utterly unnecessary pain, suffering and death.

    Seeing an agenda here? One of preventing utterly unnecessary pain, suffering and death, perhaps?

    Like the infant in western Canada who died of meningitis because the parents work in a family run “natural” health business. The child was treated with, homeopathic sugar pills(that is what they are), horseradish & vinegar(?). They ignored the advice of a nurse friend of theirs that it could be meningitis, because horseradish is anti-viral. On one of the trips they made to their naturopath, the child was so stiff (s)he had to lay in the back because going in the seat wasn’t happening. Too late when the Eurocentric bastards in white coats got to see the poor wee bairn.

    RIP sweet child due to the parents adopting a narrative as effective as medical science. At least it’s marketed as such.

    You define pseudoscience as science with an agenda.

    So I develop a cure for the cancer, all flavours, using everything we’ve learned via the Eurocentric model? It’s 86% effective too. Pseudoscience? I have an agenda.

    A real world example, the pertussis vaccine. Whooping cough is a horrible way for an infant to needlessly perish. Developed by a white guy. According to the speaker in the video we must throw it all away…

  • al kimeea

    Any comment you made about that video, made no mention of what was being said. You focused on the ethnicity and origins of the speaker alone. Not I or J.C..

    What was being said could’ve just as easily been spoken by a pink boy in the US South – maybe even a similar claim or one involving snake handling. If my identical twin brother was saying things like that, I’d point and laugh too. These claims are no different than those of a fat ol’ white dude from Germany saying water has a memory (at least that’s what any African Americans who graduate from Bastyr U are saying now).

    Witchcraft isn’t limited to any one continent or culture. I think you might know that.

    This is what’s being said in that video:

    – people can use magic to target their enemies with lightning

    – when told their pet narrative is untrue – the entire panel of students we can see reacts negatively to this news, including the boys and the pink girl – this reaction to bad news about a pet belief would be identical in a classroom full of male creationists in the US south.

    – gravity is just something Newton pulled from his arse, his white arse; therefore on-call lightning strikes.

    – take all our accumulated knowledge and throw it away because it came from white arses – this includes the molecular structure of water, vaccines and treatment for Sickle Cell Disease… I wonder if the speaker enjoys the Intertoobs or TV, radio, telephone… all common to SA.

    – another person stands to announce what the previous speaker said is sacrosanct and demands an apology for hurt fee-fees.

    In addition, the guy who posted the video also mentions:

    – the minister of health claims beetroot & garlic will cure AIDS

    – the requirement to pass any course in SA public school is 30/100?!!!

    Let’s hear your thinking on what was actually said, rather than who said it and where they live.

  • Al, you still don’t seem to understand quite what I’m saying here about science and society. You demand that I defend things like witchcraft, anti-vaxx and homeopathy, even though I’ve never, not once, said anything that supports pseudoscientific numbnuttery. Since it doesn’t look like my buddy @ephemerol1:disqus will be back to discuss it any further, let me point you to a post in this thread wherein I explained my points about scientific inquiry and skepticism in what I consider a coherent and comprehensive manner.

    If you want me to respond to any of your posts, you have to know what I’m saying and what I’m not saying here.

    Thanks.

  • al kimeea

    Please discuss what was said in that video, not who said it.

    The speaker clearly states that vaccines must go.

    Thoughts?

  • The first thought that comes to mind is that you seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that I’m obliged to jump through hoops for you.

    If you read that post I linked, and make it seem like you even remotely comprehend what I’m saying here, I’ll talk about the video.

  • al kimeea

    All you’ve expressed is sympathy for the speaker because of who it is and where they’re from, nothing at all about the substance or greater implications of what was said – things that are said by people of all genders and colours everywhere.

    The only person concerned with the speaker’s ethnicity and gender is you. In a video clearly showing students of varying genders and ethnicity agreeing with what was being said, you chose to focus on – and only on – superfluous details.

    I was shocked, SHOCKED to learn a pass in SA is 30/100.

    You commented on the speakers appearance.

  • I meant this post.

    Take your time.

  • al kimeea

    OK, I’ll go read it again. BTW, I’ve read all your posts and most of the resulting comments at least once already…

    Just to be clear, we’re discussing a video where some idiot on the internet says demonstrably stupid things and then is called a moron for moronic ideas?

  • sabelmouse

    if you think vaccine critique, and homeopathy pseudoscience you have a blind spot.
    all of your arguments, or most apply to those subjects, or rather to the way that they are being treated.

  • We agree about homeopathy, anti-vaxx and witchcraft because we both think the scientific consensus is meaningful; I consider that consensus motivated by cogent arguments.

    The reason I objected to the science-fan pig-pile on the South African student in the video isn’t because I thought her opinions on witchcraft or science were persuasive; it was because I think it was more motivated by outrage at someone questioning the authority of Western science rather than by any commitment to democratic or egalitarian ideals.

  • al kimeea

    “We agree about homeopathy, anti-vaxx and witchcraft because we both
    think the scientific consensus is meaningful; I consider that consensus
    motivated by cogent arguments.”

    Yes, exactly. Is it the arguments alone though that make or break it? Wakefield argued vaccines cause autism and even had data to prove it – until scrutinized by others. The first anti-vaccine wave was based on the idea of illness being the will of the popular deity. Thanks to Wakefield, we’ve been stuck with this one for 20 years or so now.

    You say this is numbnuttery (nice ring), I say it’s idiotic for the same reasons. Tomato potato. The student rejected gravity and the entire body of human knowledge, so did the cohorts that we could see. In a classroom. In a education system where 30/100 is a pass.

    We agree that the student’s arguments are not persuasive, I’ve known that from the get go. You’ve made that clear.

    How do you know what motivated those others to ridicule this student?

    I certainly do not in the most emphatic way base my ridicule of ridiculous ideas using the motivation as described in your 2nd paragraph. Those types deserve all the same scorn. I am not the only person on the planet to consider this.

    I agree whole heartily with what you’ve described in the 1st paragraph. Trust, but verify IOW.

    I asked for your thoughts on homeopathy, not validate it. There’s a difference. It needlessly kills people just easily as the anti-vaxx crowd. It needs to go.

  • al kimeea

    “Modern science was developed in a civilization that was characterized my male dominance, colonialism, and mercantilism. If a society with a different set of social aims as well as beliefs about things like causation, observation, intelligence and agency were to develop forms of empirical inquiry, who’s to say they’d come up with the exact state of scientific knowledge we have today? And since science is a provisional, cumulative inductive process, isn’t it a little premature to call our scientific knowledge “true” in the first place?”

    You want me to read a specific post that explains what you mean, and you’ve made comments like the above which reveal what you’re really saying.

    Ponder that bolded bit in the context of someone saying “nobody is questioning the molecular structure of water”.

    “who’s to say they’d come up with the exact state of scientific knowledge we have today?”

    For instance – George Washington Carver, James West, Charles H. Turner, Mae Jemison, Percy Julien, Neil dG Tyson, David H. Blackwell, Marie M. Daly, Patricia Bath, Ernest E. Just, Hakeem Oluseyi… Hibat Allah Abu’l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi, Ibn al-Nafis… And me. And millions of people who have a passion and understanding what science can and cannot do.

    I don’t question H2O anymore. I know that if there’s someone on some other planet somewhere pondering the cosmos their dress, music, hair, skin, literature, deities, …what have you, has zero to do with the exact state of H2O. Language and alphabet will result in different nomenclature for H20, but it will still be 2 of this and 1 of that and quite common to boot.

    That bolded bit has far reaching implications beyond calling into question the validity of H2O.

    This I really can’t grasp – “isn’t it a little premature to call our scientific knowledge “true” in the first place?”

    Well actually I can, the people who sell snake-oil and their fans use that “argument” and many of the others you use to denigrate the validity of the science used to investigate their pet belief, like water having a memory or honey being anti-bacterial, prayer works, or any other pseudo-scientific numbnuttery.

    I’m certain this is not your intent to bolster quacky claims, but there it is.

    If you think we’re being premature, ask the Japanese how they feel about the truthyness of E=mc**2.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d901858cb417f7fa4837a1a1e33696b587c0daccb3cb91d5d0916b25c38e5325.jpg

    What you’ve been saying is basically “we can’t trust that Hiroshima really happened, because an old white dude in ancient Greece first proposed atoms” as if members of any specific group are incapable of simply being curious for it’s own sake.

  • ask the Japanese how they feel about the truthyness of E=mc**2.

    Classy!

    What you’ve been saying is basically “we can’t trust that Hiroshima really happened, because an old white dude in ancient Greece first proposed atoms” as if members of any specific group are incapable of simply being curious for it’s own sake.

    Not only witless but absolutely wrong, as usual. All I was saying in the post you quoted above is that Penn Jillette’s claim that “If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again” isn’t itself a testable scientific claim. Like any other cultural construct, scientific inquiry reflects the values and mindset of the civilization in which it developed; the knowledge it produces has to be intelligible to people with our cultural mindset. I wasn’t saying science would be completely different, just that there’s no reason to think that our scientific language, methods, and knowledge would be exactly the same if it had to be figured out all over again.

    Your tendentious interpretations of my posts makes it clear that you think I’m a crackpot or a denier or both. I’ve warned you several times now that I don’t like having words put in my mouth. Since every attempt to explain myself to you has only made you more surly and unpleasant, I’m starting to wonder if you’re capable of being reasoned with.

  • al kimeea

    “Like any other cultural construct, scientific inquiry reflects the
    values and mindset of the civilization in which it developed; the
    knowledge it produces has to be intelligible to people with our cultural
    mindset.”

    Yes, everything you’ve written seems to float around this bald assertion.

    Hmm. In that list of people I provided for you to consider, I am the only pink-skin (oh those cheeky Andorians). That list is entirely brown. Two of them are obviously very likely Muslim, but I’m quite sure they ain’t from xian European culture. I’m a fanboi of their capabilities.

    Not only do these Muslim ideas about many things predate science as a formal thing, they predate those of the potato-faced men:

    Consider:

    – the relationship between force and acceleration (a vague foreshadowing of a fundamental law of classical mechanics and a precursor to Newton’s second law of motion) – 1100s – centuries later in Europe

    – refutation of Aristotelian classical elements and Galenic humorism; and discovery of measles and smallpox, and kerosene and distilled petroleum – 900s – centuries later in Europe

    – pulmonary circulation and circulatory system – 1242 – centuries later in Europe, Harvey

    – variation of gravitation and gravitational potential energy at a distance; the decrease of air density with altitude – 1121 – centuries later by xians

    – the concepts of true north and magnetic declination. In addition, he develops the first theory of Geomorphology. – 1000s, in China – far earlier than anywhere else…, n

    And centuries before science. Also not much of a stretch that one group hating another enough to enslave it predates the real world examples of people who might use any tool in the book to oppress others I gave.

    I lean heavily on the Muslim aspect, because Europe was under Christian domination at the time. Those ideas would have been pagan numbnuttery, given their cultural narrative that really hasn’t changed all that much, no matter what Pope Fluffy says.

    IIRC, the Chinese were fighting each other when one of the different kingdoms discovered gunpowder, not a potato-faced man. I really thought this was common knowledge. At least, the gunpowder part.

    What has changed since those earlier cultural narratives started their own, unique cultural lines of inquiry?

    In the Muslim narrative, the nutters took over and well, now people die for satirical art or going to work… In Xtian Europe, on both sides of The Schism, the inmates gradually lost influence as the spirit of inquiry establish by earlier, different cultures finally took hold. And people stopped being killed for having it.

    At some point, the ideas from heathens were accepted by the potato-faced men, or re-learned, When they realized what they’d inherited from earlier, different cultures – educated people back then may have known of these earlier inquiries – they called it natural philosophy, now science.

    I mentioned, I’d read all your posts and most of the comments, this is a popular dance in this establishment.

    Remember, we agree on how to determine what numbnuttery is and consider what I’ve written, in the context of the quote that opens this comment… or not ymmv

    bonne journee

  • None of this makes it any easier to believe that if our scientific knowledge were to disappear tomorrow, it would be put back together exactly the way it is today. If anything, you’re describing the way our knowledge has developed as such a mind-bogglingly complicated set of processes that involve different cultures over the course of millennia that you’re kind of making my point for me. How can you be sure the exact same connections will be made in each and every one of the million instances that phenomena have been studied over the course of human history?

  • al kimeea

    “If anything, you’re describing the way our knowledge has developed as such a mind-bogglingly complicated set of processes that involve different cultures over the course of millennia that you’re kind of making my point for me.”

    It’s what happened. Your incredulity notwithstanding.

  • I know it’s what happened. But the notion that it would happen exactly the same way again, that the same fortuitous connections would take place and the same interpretations would be successfully argued, is pretty unlikely.

  • al kimeea

    OK. That’s not what that means. Or what I’m referring to. Thought experiment to illustrate my meaning:

    Imagine another life-form using any other means you can imagine to do what the people in that list of culturally distinct scientists were doing regarding air, water, stone, wood, metals, flesh… stars

    What are they going to find water is made of?

  • I don’t know, Al, you tell me.

    Are you expecting me to assume that scientific inquiry just happens to have the same reductionist emphasis the next time around? That people will conceptualize things like elements and atoms the exact same way? That the symbols employed to explain the behavior of substances like water will be exactly the same?

    It seems like either this thought experiment is a rigged game, or it’s a serious round of Let’s Pretend.

  • al kimeea

    Next time around? Same planet right? What if it was the first time around? Or another planet? We know there are others, they’re around every star we’ve seen – so far…

    Muslims, Chinese and eventually xian cultures, all with other cultural narratives, converging on the same process and producing similar results in the same environment.

    But science is European colonialism because science can’t be understood as a trans-cultural concept despite the above paragraph.

    “That people will conceptualize things like elements and atoms the exact same way?”

    is not the same as

    “That the symbols employed to explain the behavior of substances like water will be exactly the same?”

    I don’t dispute number 2, already alluded to that explicitly by saying it would still be 2 of something and 1 of another using different nomenclature…

    Number 1 is questioning the molecular structure of water, a thing used to make vaccines.

    If another life-form arrives here long after we’re gone and they use their line of inquiry to examine water, will it be made of 2 of something and 1 of another?

    We can’t know what they’d call the components or what symbols would represent them. How could we?

    By your answer, I’m guessing you think water could be made of anything other than the way it is, despite it being the same narrative that produced Hiroshima.

    By the way, homeopathy is another narrative regarding how water is arranged. Today. I know you don’t buy into it – trust but verify. People are taking “medicine” mixed with 3 Olympic pools or more of water as cures.

    You and I both agree, using the same narrative, that homeopathy is pseudo-scientific numbnuttery. They claim water is something it is not.

    You and I agree because science has taught us that something with this molecular structure is extremely unlikely to have a memory and hasn’t been shown to so far. And it turns dilution on it’s head.

    You might agree that after many failed attempts that maybe the idea wasn’t viable?

  • al kimeea

    sablemouse said this – “if you think vaccine critique, and homeopathy pseudoscience you have a blind spot.
    all of your arguments, or most apply to those subjects, or rather to the way that they are being treated.”

    sabelmouse says – apparently, you and I have a “blind-spot” in regards to: homeopathy, how we regard vaccines, cupping, witchcraft, moxibustion, acupuncture,HT, TT, reiki, feng shui…, psychics…, n. The whole shmeer of quackademia & quackademic knowledge. A blind spot – a prejudice, or area of ignorance , that one has but is often unaware of…

    Why does sabelmouse think believe we have this blind spot for “pseudo-scientific numbnuttery” like homeopathy?

    “all of your arguments, or most apply to those subjects, or rather to the way that they are being treated.” – sablemouse

    This is what I’ve been saying all along. This is why you find yourself feeling like you’re being treated like a crank. It’s right there – all of your arguments, or most
    apply to those subjects we both agree should be called “pseudo-scientific numbnuttery”. Specifically, “the way that they are being treated.” Having read of this crap since I saw “Little Big Man”, rest assured “being treated” means calling the line of inquiry what it is – “snake-oil” or less contentiously, numbnuttery (thanks again for that silky portmanteau).

    sablemouse is saying these things, not you and saying them right now, today. That’s why I bring up quackery and ask for your thoughts – they are real world examples and sablemouse says your arguments or most, show a blind spot, a prejudice, or area of ignorance , that one has but is often unaware of…

    We, you and I, have a blind spot, an area of ignorance in regards to homeopathy. sablemouse just showed up and asserts this quite hairlessly. sablemouse had this to say when presented with a real world examples of the real pain and suffering of the numbnuttery that is homeopathy:

    me, al kimeea – a long comment on how homeopathy killed a diabetic man who cut the sole of his foot and only sought help after infection. Science tells us this is dangerous for anyone with duff Islets of Langerhans <-link, while homeopathy teaches H2O has a memory. When he finally saw a vascular surgeon, he was a few hours too late and died of sepsis via gangrene. The comment also explained why honey might have been efficacious if applied prior to infection. It involves the chemical bonding of H2O molecules with those of the other elemental molecules.

    A few hours too late, doesn’t mean the easily treatable infection began that morning with a minor cut and ended within a day two. That might have been merciful. iirc, it was longer than that as his leg rotted from the bottom up. Can you imagine the pain and the stench as the homeopath follows where his line of inquiry leads him? Which was to keep applying honey because “like cures like” and “it will get worse before it gets better” – those words, phrases in scare quotes are actual homeopathic dogma.

    sablemouse sneers – “you’re mixing up a lot of things so good luck with those vaccines and modern medicine. Quelle surprise. Nothing new in 20 years.

    me, al kimeea :

    Two pre-teen native girls died, because they chose to follow advice like yours. Charmingly told to them by a snake-oil salesperson – Big
    Pharma rarely cures and mostly kills – they intone sweetly. Trust me. So, they abandoned a treatment for the same cancer as my niece. A treatment
    they knew had, as did my niece going in, an 85% probability of success.

    Versus cold laser therapy and whole foods at a snake-oil farm.

    sablemouse sneers part deux – you garble insensibly.

    me, al kimeea – I mention I could listen to a person on the internet claiming homeopathy isn’t numbnuttery, or the narrative that demonstrably saves lives

    sablemouse sneers, yet again – you ramble incoherently

    You’ll notice sablemouse offered no kind of info, or even more info, for us to consider why we, you and I, have an area of ignorance regarding homeopathy.

    I also mentioned the infant dying for numbnuttery of meningitis.

    But, he justifies his numbnuttery with your arguments.

    My comments are full of it. It being more information on which to make an informed medical decision. They detail heartbreaking and entirely preventable, unnecessary pain and suffering – like a child dying of whooping cough because vaccines are a blindspot.

    So, not only is information missing from what sablemouse says, so is compassion, morals, ethics and the capability of reason. Harsh? Look for yourself at how sablemouse responded to the death of two indigenous girls due to numbnuttery…

  • al kimeea

    LOL – Just the other day, a story popped into my newsfeed about this very thing…

  • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

    this is news? was it about the recent eclipse?

  • al kimeea

    yep, mentioned how Columbus used science to trick the locals into thinking Jesus was angry so they’d give the xians more food/water