Re: Culture of Science?

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 13:21:36 -0800

alt.pagan has been removed from the newsgroup list at the request of
some of the members of that group.

Stephen Barnard wrote:
> Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax wrote:
> >
> > 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.
> I believe the "Territorial Imperative" is a phrase coined by Edward
> Albey, who wasn't a scientist at all. He was a novelist who dabbled in
> pop science. His writings aren't taken seriously by scientists, to say
> the least. You seem to take them seriously, however.

Do I? Eric? Mary Beth? Do I really take the "Territorial Imperative"
seriously? I guess that makes me a sociobiologist! Gosh, I thought
it was only Gerold and Bryant who believed in such things!

> You are just about the most pathological nut-case of this particular
> type that I've even run across.

This time Steve, you are now being accurately accused by me of failing
to understand my real meaning. Let's do a basic lesson in reading com-
prehension together and you will see what I mean.

To do this, however, we are going to have to go beyond pulling a single
sentence out of context. Let's go line by line from my original post:

>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.

Did I say that I believed this? Hmmmm. I look up and down and see no
admission on my part that I believe in this hokum here. You sure put
a lot of meaning in that isn't there.

>Observe how I got flamed by the Wonder from Washington
>well beyond what I had actually said.

A little sarcasm here, no?

>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!

The literary device being employed here is "irony". Did you learn about that
in school?

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

Hypothesis = an idea to be tested and hastilly tossed out if decent
evidence against it can be marshalled. This is just for some other
stupid people out there.

>* 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!)

Again, note the use of the humorous term "bugaboo".

>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.

Again, note the sarcastic tone.

>Perhaps you all have others.

And as yet unaccepted invitation.

>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.

Very much in the tradition of Mark Twain. Ever read any of his stuff
there, Steve?

Periodically there are discussions about the necessity of emoticons
in newsgroup postings. The argument against them is that a good writer
can communicate his meaning adequately. But the problem is that a good
writer also needs a good reader.

Some, like Steve, need training wheels.



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