Thursday, December 26, 2013

The New Two Cultures

The Two Cultures was originally a talk by C.P. Snow which became a book. Snow was pointing out the scientific illiteracy of those humanities-based academics who looked down their noses at scientists, those unwashed peons who couldn't recite Cicero or Virgil.

With the passage of time, Snow's point has become outdated as science and technology have increased in importance, while an education in the classics is seen as quaint and effete more often than as the essential mark of a gentleman. However, it seems to me that there is a new dichotomy to which attention needs to be drawn. I'm going to call the two sides "evidence-based" versus "agenda-based".

Science and mathematics are the primary examples of evidence-based academic disciplines. If you're going to put forward a hypothesis in these fields, you'd better have evidence to back it up. That evidence takes the form of theory and observation in science, and deductions from the axioms of formal systems in mathematics, computer science and some philosophy. Medicine is starting to embrace the evidence-based approach, and in law, there has always been an expectation that you will use "evidence" such as precedent, legislation and the constitution to make your case.

I'm sure it's possible to take an evidence-based analysis in the humanities also, for example by using textual analysis to support your interpretation of a poem, say. But the humanities seems to be the home of an alternative approach which I call agenda-driven. This is precisely the reverse approach; you start with a conclusion based on your agenda, and instead of looking for evidence to support it, you then interpret the world through the lens of your chosen agenda.

Whether it's radical feminism, critical race theory, cultural Marxism or whatever, the MO is the same. You start by assuming that the whole of society is misogynistic, racist etc., and you are required to see the world through the filter of this unquestionable assumption. Everything you see is taken as evidence to strengthen your initial assumption; nothing can possibly weaken it.

In this respect (and many others), agenda-driven studies have far more in common with religion than they do with science. What's more, there seems to be an increasing tendency to denounce the evidence-based approach as masculine, exclusive and oppressive, while agenda-driven approaches are declared to be more inclusive and social-justicey, and more aligned with the "feminine energy" - and other such gobbledygook.

If you doubt me, check out:
  •  Newton's Principia = Newton's Rape Manual
  •  "E=mc2 is a sexed equation because it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us."
  •  Scientists haven't solved the Navier-Stokes equations of fluid mechanics because fluids are icky and feminine. Nothing to do with the fact that NS is a nonlinear parabolic-hyperbolic set of equations that cannot be solved in closed form.
 As a scientifically trained person, I find it appalling that ideologues are trying to encroach on areas of study where an evidence-driven approach is essential. If they get their way, kiss goodbye to any prospect of making progress and accumulating knowledge in these fields. But hey, at least we'll be joining hands singing Kumbaya and nobody's fee-fees will be hurt except for those evil patriarchal privileged males.

In a subsequent post I plan to address the essential difference between science and religion. There is a reason why scientific knowledge has increased explosively in the last few centuries, while theologians are basically restating the assertions of Thomas Aquinas 800 years later, and still haven't decided whether the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and Son or the Father alone, the burning question which split Christianity into Eastern and Western factions long ago.

Feminists often bemoan the shortage of women in STEM fields, yet at the same time, the more extreme seek to emasculate science and turn it into a religion in the name of gender uniformity. How is that supposed to be empowering?

More later.


  1. I was aware of Sokal's work in passing, but thanks to your article I am now inspired to read his book Intellectual Impostures/Fashionable Nonsense. This is the first time I have heard these awe inspiringly ridiculous statements regarding Newton's Principia, E=MC^2, etc.

    Much appreciated.

  2. You're almost to Seventh-Heaven, dude, with your moral understanding of reality... yet, you gotta wanna gimme the whole pie: believe in the only TWO principles of everlasting life: 1) love of naybor -GRRR- and 2) love Almighty God. You're ALMOST done...

    Lemme add summore thots; lemme fill-you-up withe efficacious epiphany, the avant-gardeness and necessary wisdom to achieve Seventh-Heaven, dear...

    If 'freedom lies in being bold' (Robert Frost), doesn't pushing-the-envelope also result in the Elysian Fields of Utopia? If I'm the sower, we plant the Seed; if I'm an artist, we RITE the symphonies heard Upstairs ☆IF☆ we accept His lead withe orchestra...

    Wanna find-out the fax, Jak, in a wurld fulla the 'power of cowards'? Wanna wiseabove to help a 'Plethora Of Wurdz' [POW!] which are look'n for a new home in thy novelty?? Yay!

    Q: But [gulp] can anyone tell me the difference between K2/IQ? A: Nthn. In Heaven, we gitt'm both for eternity HA! Need a few more thots, ideers, wild wurdz (whoa, Nelly! easy, girl!) or ironclad iconoclasms?

    VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI (Latin: words to [the] wise): As an ex-writer of the sassy, savvy, schizophenia we all go thro in this lifelong demise, I just wanna help U.S. git past the ping-pong-politixx, the whorizontal more!ass! we're in and wiseabove to 'in fine sine fine' (Latin: in [the] End without End -Saint Augustine).

    "This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty told me in my coma. "Far beyond thy earthly tempest is where you'll find tangible, corpulent eloquence". Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET!! any moe curly, party-hardy-endorphins, low-hanging-fruit of the Celestial Paradise, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs (awww! baby kitties, too!!) when my o-so-beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girly passed-away due to those wry, sardonic satires...

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3, NJB

    Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go gitt'm, girly. You're incredible. You're indelible. Cya Upstairs. I won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls
    Revelation 14:13

    God blessa youse
    -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

    1. Mortal humanity's body has this strange duality: a physical person which, after you croak, we're placed in a cemetary... yet, an INDELIBLE soul which never dies and ascends to Seventh-Heaven to await our Divine Judgement. If you're an athiest? Guess what? You STILL! gotta face the same Divine Judgement with or without a trial (which means you might be sent to Hell without a hearing). Bummer. So it doesn't matter if you're a mortal atheist, denying and condemning God - we must perish regardless, Up or down.

      Here's the Good News, pops; here's what I'd suggest: drop allah your whorizontal views and guh-roove-on-over to the Son. Why? My head injury has taught this sinfull mortal there's a 'rope' to Heaven; if we clutter that stairway into Seventh-Heaven with cash, cars, clothes, calumny, condumbs, contempt for God Who made U.S., etc... what we do/think has eternal effects, dude.

      But, alas! O poor, poor Yorick!! A great number of peeple have given their INDELIBLE souls any number of mortal wounds by their belief in the transitory; thus, if they aint sorry for having offended God whom we shall ALL haveta meet someday, who wont have any gods before Him, we'll die an eternal death by never believing in a realm of unending love.