Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Gerold Firl (
13 Aug 1996 19:33:20 GMT

In article <woody-1008961310350001@>, (William Edward Woody) writes:

|> In article <4ugj67$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:

|> > God is going to have to come across with the punch line before the
|> > cosmic-joke theory gets taken seriously. Until then, we'll just have to
|> > make do with logic and intuition.

|> It's not quite my point. My point is that science presupposes that there
|> isn't someone loading the dice or fiddling with the experimental results
|> when the experiments get done. Science also assumes someone doesn't come
|> in and kill the rats with an undetectable drug on a regular basis, and
|> it assumes God didn't fiddle with the universe to plant all of this
|> evidence, or that we're not a brain in a nutrient bath being tickled
|> by electrodes.

When you say that science assumes that no one fiddles with the
experimental results, I'm not sure if you are referring to supernatural
fiddling (a trickster god who messes with the data) or regular old
human fiddling. Science does recognize that both error and fraud are
part of life, which is one of the reasons for the emphasis on
replication. Unless a finding can be replicated, it's treated with

As far as supernatural fiddling is concerned, there doesn't seem to be
any need for that hypothesis.

|> And more importantly (and here's where the cultural bias gets in)
|> science presupposes that the experimental design is capable of detecting
|> and testing the hypothesis that is being worked on.

Actually, I wouldn't say that there is any presupposition regarding the
adequacy of experimental design. That question must be addressed anew
for each experiment. Sometimes the experiment is designed in such a way
as to capture the relevant data, and to control for important
variations, and sometimes it isn't. There's no guarantee one way or the

|> You're correct, Bryant: K=MA^2 is only descriptive. But the reason
|> why we use this description is because of the assumptions above.
|> Someone living in different cultural assumptions would never have
|> used K=MA^2 to describe an aspect of the universe: there
|> are those for whom experimentation is just a silly idea, and there
|> are those whose culture suggests describing the universe is such
|> a mechanistic, clockwork fashion is a silly idea to begin with.

I think that what bryant was saying is that while people from certain
cultures might not think to quantify something like kinetic energy,
nonetheless kinetic energy is just as operational for them as for
anyone else. Cultural assumptions just don't seem to play much of a
role in the physical universe.

While they might think it silly to calculate kinetic energy in terms of
mass and velocity, they still avoid getting in the way of bullets.

|> > ... Anthropology examines the enormous range of
|> > spiritual systems invented by humans, and the most sophisticated
|> > religious/spiritual systems are found to be the evolutionary outgrowth
|> > of rudimentary misunderstandings about how the world works, coupled
|> > with society-wide organizational/motivational techniques and even
|> > disengeneous exploitation.

|> But you see, this is the very reasoning that I complained about
|> that scientists have no business being--the underlying assumption
|> here is that (1) primitives are culturally, morally, and intellectually
|> inferior to us, and (2) Logical Positivism is the only way to
|> describe the universe.
|> Assumption (1) simply pisses me off--as someone who is a member
|> of a family who was in the stone age just two generations ago (I'm
|> AmerIndian), the suggestion that my ancestors spiritual path was
|> the "evolutionary outgrowth of rudimentary misunderstandings of
|> how the world works" is a bit, well, condesending and irritating.

Lets look at that a little closer.

First of all, the conclusion that primitives are "inferior" just
because they misunderstand how the world works is an attitude taken
only by ignorant ethnocentrics. It's an attitude which is inimical to
anthropology, and alien to science. Ignorant people are not inferior to
knowledgable people, they just don't know as much; besides, just
because they ignorant in one area doesn't rule-out the possibility of
being more knowledgable in others. I do not believe your assumption (1)
is at all common; if anything, I suspect that the opposite error is
even more common: that primitives are noble savages who are superior to
"civilized" man.

And lets look at a clear example of how a misunderstanding of the
physical world leads to an erroneous belief about the spiritual domain:
our old friend disease.

In cultures which are ignorant of microbes, disease is commonly thought
of as the work of malignant spirits. This is a fairly reasonable
hypothesis for people who are ignorant of microscopy, but it's wrong.
Smallpox was caused by a virus, not witchcraft or the will of god, and
while vaccination has eradicated smallpox, all the praying in the world
hasn't helped one bit.

It may be irritating that your ancestors 2 generations back didn't know
about microbes; if it helps any, my ancestors from 5 generations back
didn't either. So what?

|> And frankly many spiritual systems do not even attempt to explain
|> how the world works, only how we as individuals should work within
|> the framework of the world. (This is true of some AmerInd spritual
|> paths and of much of the Eastern religious mindset.)

And as I noted, another component of religion operates within the realm
of motivation and social organization. No contradiction there.

|> > As you point out, there *could* be a god who set-up the whole thing
|> > this way, for whatever reason, but until we find some evidence to
|> > support such a view that hypothesis must remain an amusing mental
|> > exercise, with no relation to our daily lives.

|> Are you suggesting that God (in whatever form He/She takes) has
|> no place in our daily lives because He/She has no impact (due to
|> the lack of experimental evidence)?

I would say that the *belief* in god plays a role in their lives. As to
the question of whether that belief refers to anything outside of that
individuals mind - everyone needs to decide that for themselves.

|> > And one final note: people around here are way too ready to take
|> > offense.

|> Words on the Internet are hard to interpret for inflection and tone.
|> I may say "I don't understand what you are saying," and mean "Could
|> you give me more information."
|> You may read "I don't understand what you are saying" and read an
|> accusation that you are an idiot.
|> While there are many negatively charged words which are almost
|> universally bad (and many positively charged words that are almost
|> always positive), for the most part, with the right inflection and
|> tone, our sentences can be read as accusation or as praise...

Yes, that is a factor, but there are also people on this group who are
so committed to a view of the world where they are the wronged,
downtrodden victims of oppression that they actively *create* enemies
where none existed before. If no one is availible who fits the bill as
oppressor, they latch on to the next best thing for another rond of "me
victim, you oppressor". It's like they *want* to be oppressed. Weird.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf