Scientific Method and Postmodernism

Janette Wilson (G1824303@NMSUVM1.BITNET)
Thu, 9 Dec 1993 17:41:48 EST

I believe there is commmon ground between Postmodernism and positivism with
regard to scientific method and importance of replication.

In art, Postmodern theorists contend that the "original," the "avant-garde" is
largely a myth in their criticism of the Modernists' view that "fine art" must
be "original," "new," "on the cutting-edge." Postmodern theorists contend
that Modernist Art falls short of its self-description; these critics point out
the repetition, the copies, in the work of the Modernists self-designated
original work: Mondrian's reliance on the grid, etc. (Also, pomo theorists
criticize the hegemony in the ascribed characteristics of "fine art;" that is,
why should not "relevance of an art work to a community" be an index of "fine
art?" In Modernist art theory, it is not an index. Thus, the designation
"fine" becomes a point of contention. Well, I'm getting off the point for this
particular communication.)

In using the scientific method, a good study must be reproducible. It is the
reduplications which lead to a general acceptance of a hypothesis or theory.
So copies are very important, at least, scientists say that replication by
other researchers is important. Of course,in practice, the importance of
replication is denigrated. Studies which reproduce as precisely as possible
a previous study are less likely to get published than studies which "expand"
upon a previous study (but which are often hard to use as corroboration of
a previous study). So I guess the editors of journals are Modernists? Heh,
heh. And, horrors!, a study which doesn't have "statistically significant
results" doesn't get published, even though the lack of causality can be as
important as a study which has "statistically significant results." (Exception
being the study with no statistically significant results which punches a big
hole in a generally accepted hypothesis or theory)