Insufficient Postage (re: thread one):

Gessler, Nicholas (gessler@ANTHRO.SSCNET.UCLA.EDU)
Mon, 25 Jul 1994 13:03:00 PDT

Seeker1 - Cyberanthropologist - AKA STEVE

provides us with an interesting extended quote from Neil Postman regarding
some of the differences between "science itself" and "social research." I
think that Postman's discourse makes some valid observations, but in doing so
comes up missing some important possibilities. Hence it is hereby returned
with the markings "insufficient postage."

Yes, Postman's post is true, but he only characterizes one school of social
research. I've recently found occasion to differentiate between "social
science" and "social advocacy," and it seems to me that his characterization
applies more readily to the "social advocacy" end of the spectrum. Certainly
"social science" is not identical to physics, chemistry, and physiology, but
that does not a priori mean that social phenomena are not completely
determined by physical, chemical, physiological, and up the ladder through
psychological, environmental, and interpersonal intercausation. Certainly
our present knowledge of physics, chemistry, physiology... do not provide us
with adequate explanations of higher order social complexities, but that does
not a priori mean that those social complexities cannot be
(explained/predicted/determined) by the phenomena that those disciplines

So Postman can't be talking about "social scientists." Perhaps he's talking
about "social advocates," but even in that field its practitioners have some
knowledge of the "science" of propagandizing and promoting social ideologies.
So precisely who is he talking about?

Perhaps we are suffereing here from "the cup is half-full" vs. "the cup is
half-empty" attitudinal differences. My attitude is "look what the sciences
of complexity are explaining that we thought previously unimaginable" rather
than "science has yet to explain everything." There is so much that remains
unexplored in a synthetic computational science paradigm in the social
sciences that I am encouraged by its present "modest" successes. I don't
believe there is a viable alternative.

Nick Gessler

"The menu is not the meal." - Alan Watts
"The menu is not the meal... NOT" - Gessler (THREAD THREE!)
"Don't eat the menu." - Anonymous
"Do eat the menu." - Gessler (Thread Three!)