Culture of Science?

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 16:39:57 -0800

William Edward Woody wrote:
> ERIC! Hey!
> (Eric Brunner) wrote:
> > : bold new challenge. If Science truly wants to defeat the most worthless
> > : and dangerous superstitions, it is going to have to open itself to good
> > : criticism. It cannot take as a given its own unbiased nature. It must
> > : listen to the questions and work towards providing acceptable answers.
> >
> > Personally, I'm waiting on the advocates of High Scientism to explain the
> > work of a mathematician... Kurt Godel...
> >
> > I can wait, of course, I'm not a strict constructionist (mathematically
> > speaking that is).
> I thought I saw a comment about Godel go by. Something to the effect
> that Godel's results only apply to abstract mathemathematical systems,
> as opposed to being a more generalizable result.
> But that's okay; I still like the fact that most people explain away
> the uncertainty of Quantum Mechanical systems by saying "well, yeah;
> God plays dice with the universe. But at least he plays dice
> _predictably._"
> - Bill
> --
> William Edward Woody | e-mail:
> In Phase Consulting | WWW:
> 1545 Ard Eevin Ave | Fax: (818) 502-1467
> Glendale, CA 91202 | ICBM: N:34.15' W:118.25'

Nice observation, Bill. I think a study of the Culture of Science could
be very interesting and lead us to some new understandings of what it
means to be human. Perhaps one reason why scientists find the so-called
"Territorial Imperative" so compelling is that it resembles their
culture very closely. Observe how I got flamed by the Wonder from Washington
well beyond what I had actually said. Her attacks, by her own admission,
were certainly not /rationally/ motivated. And yet they bear a peculiar
similarity to remarks I have seen made time and time again when a member
of the Scientific Establishment, particularly in that they both claim to
be "neutral" (or as Angeline put it, "not personal") and yet their utterances
are full of venom!

>From where did this culture spring? Here are a few of my hypotheses:

* Class. Do Scientists come overwhelming from the Upper Middle and Upper
Classes? Again, this could explain many of the mythological baggage which
many scientists bear about the natures of their own intellects. Rather than
considering the superior value of the education and family upbringing they
had, they look hopefully to their own genes.
* Protestantism. (Yep, I'll blame this bugaboo just for the sake of
theoretical completeness!) I don't give Protestantism the credit for
the Scientific Method, only for the the emotional baggage and superiority
complex that afflicts a fair number of scientists, at least the vocal
ones. Genetic explanations of intelligence sound a lot like good
old Calvinist predestination if you think about it.

Perhaps you all have others. The point I would make about these things
is that they /are not/ Scientific Method. But they sure as hell sneak
in and wreak their havoc often enough for us to be aware of them.



___ ___
/\ _|_ /\ Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx
/ /\_|_/\ \
/ / /\|/\ \ \
\ \ \/|\/ / / "If we try to flee from our human condition into
\ \/_|_\/ / the computer, we only meet ourselves there."
\/__|__\/ William Barrett