Monday, December 20

World

To The Point

Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning...My little aside bagging Noam Chomsky in About the Author, and my choice of Oliver Kamm as my latest Blog of the Day after a long absence, are not some momentary aberration, but rather a return of this blog to its roots.*

After the recent electoral victories of the right people in Australia and America I felt as though a great weight had been lifted - or to use a less cliched phrasing, as though a critical and feared exam had turned out to be, relatively speaking, a walk in the park. And here we are in Graduate School, exams no longer looming on the horizon, but still a huge amount of work to be done.

Because, you have to understand, I'm not a Conservative. Neither George Bush nor John Howard truly represent my views on most subjects. I am pleased by their respective victories primarly because both are fundamentally honest, and I was deeply opposed to John Kerry and Mark Latham primarily because both challengers seemed to me to be deeply, personally, dishonest.

Look, I'm not a child; I don't expect politicians to tell the truth all the time. Sometimes they can't - they have to deal with matters of security that cannot be made public. Sometimes they won't, because, well, politics is like that. But the dishonesty of Kerry and Latham runs much deeper; they are not honest even to themselves.

What I'm really most directly opposed to, and what I've been fighting for years, long before I set up this blog, is not the political Left as such but intellectual dishonesty.

I'm not, technically, a scientist, though I would have been, technically, a scientist had I troubled myself to attend my classes and so ultimately graduated.** That doesn't mean that I can't recognise Science - the process, the method, even more than its vast body of discoveries and achievements - as the single greatest invention of Western Civilisation. (Number two being the limited liability corporation, something that far too many people take for granted.)

My aim is to promote Science and Civilisation, and it's a selfish aim. I want the products of Science and Civilisation for myself: Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning and a fancy computer and an interesting and productive job. The people who attack Science and Civilisation are trying to deprive me of all that, and I won't allow it.

The Creationists pushing their fraudulent spin on Evolutionary Theory; the Post-Modernists denying the concept of Objective Truth; the Islamists trying to do both at the same time; the historical revisionists; the Psychics; the "Alternative Health Practitioners"; the academics who see their role being not to teach but to brainwash their students into leftist zombiehood; the "free speech" proponents who want to stamp out speech they don't like; Mysticism and Obscurantism; the spammers and scammers and hackers who are doing their level best to destroy the Internet; the nanny-state idiots and the totalitarian hardliners who try to legislate problems out of existence: These and more are what I truly oppose.

So I shouldn't want for subject matter.

* Not that it has any.
** I was studying Computer Science, hence the "technically". Still, it's better than Sociology...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:44 AM | Comments (17) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 Yay! I encourage the ridicle of dogmatism wherever it may be found, whether it be the religious right or the religious left (being those lefties so anti-religion that there is a religious zeal about their anti-religionness. (And the third greatest invention of Westen Civilization is air conditioning...)

Posted by: Susie at Monday, December 20 2004 11:21 AM (3nS88)

2 That pretty well sums up why I'm here.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at Monday, December 20 2004 01:07 PM (U3CvV)

3 That pretty much sums up why I blog.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at Monday, December 20 2004 07:05 PM (LOj+R)

4 If you include refrigeration in with A/C, Susie, I'd agree with you. Pixy, I think we are on a similar wavelength. I spent the first 3 weeks after September 11th, 2001 debunking Nostradamus rumors (and other similar pass-arounds). Cheers!

Posted by: Kathy K at Monday, December 20 2004 07:06 PM (fGtFB)

5 "Still, it's better than Sociology..."

I resemble that remark! Seriously, sociology is a fairly mature field of study. The forces at play in human interaction are relatively well understood (keep in mind that sociology is a totally different field from psychology, which does involve a lot of mumbo-jumbo revolving around sheer speculation as to what takes place inside the human brain).

"Hard" science, on the other hand, can't even tell us what matter is fundamentally composed of! New, previously unknown sub-atomic particles of indeterminate function are discovered all the time, and we have string theorists running around telling us that the universe really has somewhere around 8 to 12 dimensions (they're not too sure about the number).

I'm not anti-hard science, but I think it is a critical mistake to think that social science is all frivolous silliness. The technologies that humankind is now developing will be so powerful that they may well lead to our extinction - unless we make a conscious, serious investment in learning how best to control them and use them wisely.

Posted by: MikeR at Wednesday, December 22 2004 02:47 PM (h8FAf)

6 The greatest invention in the history of the human race is "room service".

Posted by: Rossz at Wednesday, December 22 2004 04:19 PM (NEjeN)

7 "Hard" science, on the other hand, can't even tell us what matter is fundamentally composed of! Sort of. But they have a couple of points strongly in their favour: first, they know what they don't know; second, they have a theoretical and experimental strategy for finding out. Not that an answer is guaranteed or anything; the Universe doesn't come with an Owner's Manual. I'm not anti-hard science, but I think it is a critical mistake to think that social science is all frivolous silliness. I don't think that, but it does seem that Sociology (and Pschology too) is too susceptible to fashionable nonsense and cargo-cultism (that is, papers and "theories" that use all the terminology of Sociology without actually saying anything). I would expect that a serious Sociologist would view this sort of thing with every bit as much antipathy as Marc Miyake views Chomsky's Universal Grammar, as a hijacking of what should be a respectable field of research. The technologies that humankind is now developing will be so powerful that they may well lead to our extinction - unless we make a conscious, serious investment in learning how best to control them and use them wisely. Fire, the wheel, the inclined plane, and now this so-called lever! This mad rush to embrace poorly understood technology will be the end of us!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, December 22 2004 07:47 PM (uOsif)

8 Just the LLC? I'd say the second greatest invention ought to include all flavors of corporations.

Not that I'm trying to tell you what to think or post.

Posted by: Squidley at Thursday, December 23 2004 12:35 PM (06/Rc)

9 Well, yes, but there is a specific value to the LLC that is distinct from the other types. And it sounds better that way. ;)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, December 23 2004 07:23 PM (uOsif)

10 What is the problem with mysticism? I don't see it.

Posted by: wanderer at Saturday, December 25 2004 08:50 PM (3ULfT)

11 The problem with mysticism is that it is self-important nonsense, and that many of its purveyors are out-and-out frauds.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, December 27 2004 08:19 AM (+S1Ft)

12 :-) Gadflyism is part of the process of metamorphisis that many undergo before they get serious. I would conjure that no real deep serious arguements can be made without an intuitive synthesis. Reason only takes you to the ledge of balance, it is something like mystcism that lets one leap into the unknown. Most skeptics and poo-pooers of mysticism are merely people afraid of something that doesn't seem understandable. yes I have seen self-important nonsense and frauds. But that is more a description of human nature than of mysticism. Those types occur in every strata of human affairs. Mysticism is about the mysteries of life and the mechanisms needed to understand them. Both sides of that coin provide ample opportunity for someone to fool someone else and ask for money in return.

Posted by: wanderer at Wednesday, December 29 2004 12:46 AM (3ULfT)

13 Unfortunately, that just illustrates my point. Mysticism is about the mysteries of life and the mechanisms needed to understand them. No it isn't. That's Science. Mysticism is about making up answers that sound nice but don't mean anything. Science works. Mysticism doesn't.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, December 29 2004 01:55 AM (+S1Ft)

14 :-) Many of the great scientists of the past were involved in Mysticism. The secret societies in Europe were used to transfer scientific knowledge. Foolish? or more well rounded? Science is a component of mysticism. The unreasoned faith is what is off-skew. A student of mysticism would experiment and prove the qualites of the mind to oneself. My intition says 10 is an important number here. That is making up an answer. But it's not really an answer. It's a seed. But it does mean something. To me at least. It only means something to us if we have a meeting of minds. Unmeasurables between people have to be measured over time as an observer. One can only prove to oneself what dreams mean, how group dynamics work, what creativity is. At the edge of everyones mind is a next step that is difficult to take. When that idea sparks, one gets an inkling of how it's created. Actual accepted knowledge and the progress of the experimental method. In those terms, Mysticism is the part that allows for greater creativity and an ethical egress into the next unknown area.

Posted by: wanderer at Thursday, December 30 2004 02:21 AM (3ULfT)

15 Many of the great scientists of the past were involved in Mysticism. The secret societies in Europe were used to transfer scientific knowledge. Foolish? or more well rounded? The Mysticism? Foolish, no question. The transfer of knowledge I'm fine with. A student of mysticism would experiment and prove the qualites of the mind to oneself. How? Exactly? My intition says 10 is an important number here. My inductive reasoning, seated in decades of observations and scientific study, says you're a fruitbat. In those terms, Mysticism is the part that allows for greater creativity and an ethical egress into the next unknown area. In other words, make stuff up and pissing off before they catch on to you.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, December 30 2004 08:17 AM (+S1Ft)

16 Make Up Stuff is what the Scientific Method works on. They have an idea and want to prove it. Mysticism can be the dynamics at the edge of theory on why a mind is similiar or dissimiliar to another. Harmonics is probably a tool widely used in Mysticism to establish a correspondence between phenomena. Projection is another. But from there we get into stuff that doesn't really mean anything to skeptics. One of the ideas advocated by mystics is that it is the science of religion or the faith of reason. It exists between the two, but used to be solely based in religion before the Dark Ages. Classical thinkers are drawn on a lot as to show the progression of the ideas of man from Eygpt, thru Greece, the far east, and the Renaissance. The idea of thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis in its essence is a primary foundation of practical mysticism. In more mundane terms something a mystic might study. Opening a fortune cookie, does it reveal a pre destined event or does ones mind grow to fit the fortune as a form of suggestion? We mystic students order take out a lot. On the more looney side. If you are cloud watching and a cloud moves as you thought it would. Did your mind move the cloud or did the cloud move your mind? Mysticism would say that there is an intelligent source behind both. And both of the previous paragraphs can be harmonically corresponded for things to think about. Mystics that I know have this deadly little gem that it can only be known by practice not by observation. The ethical egress above I see is a vague statement based on how you interpeted it. What I meant(I Think :-) is that at the moment of scientific gnosis there is an instant of ethics about the conclusion to be rendered and published. While I don't hold myself to that strict standard, I think some scientists do.

Posted by: wanderer at Wednesday, January 05 2005 11:43 PM (3ULfT)

17 oh, my response never posted. well I have forgotten it now. I was vague on ethical egress above. What I meant is that at the point of scientific gnosis when applying the SCi Method, there is a brief moment where a scientist makes an ethical decision about the baby. The decision sets the stage for the next synthesis of experimentation of ideas. Mysticism would include the Scientific method as a tool, but it wouldn't say that it is the whole story. It would say though that the tool lets one measure the truth or falsehood of results. Maybe your interpetation of it is called curiosity.

Posted by: wanderer at Sunday, January 09 2005 01:50 AM (3ULfT)

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