Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Science - On the other hand

The always funny Bill Maher offers a rebuttal of sorts to some of Paul Feyerabend's ideas.

Paul Kimball
posting from Greg Bishop's living room...


XyukonR said...

As a Master's student in the social sciences who believes that reality is created by the subjective understanding of individuals, I've been reading the last few posts with interests.

One of my favorite quotes is from an academic named Elizabeth Bird who in her article The Social Construction of Nature: Theoretical Approaches to the History of Environmental Problems (1987) states that, "Scientific knowledge should not be regarded as a representation of nature, but rather as a socially constructed interpretation with an already socially constructed natural-technical object of inquiry."

I think Maher is way off in his rant. He says "what's real is what's real." I think his beloved scientists in the field of quantum physics would be able to dispute that quite easily. What's real is not what's real. What's real is different to different people and is different in different contexts. I still can't believe there is an unwavering belief in objectivity within the scientific community (both applied and social) who believe they can easily create generalizations that will reveal some absolute and ultimate truth. This isn't possible. Even quantum physics has proven that the simple act of observing an experiment changes the outcome.

Anyways, thanks for the heads up on Feyeraband's book. I'm going to grab it from the library.

Paul Kimball said...

Hi Superjudge,

Any documentary filmmaker knows all about the reality of changing the outcome / behaviour by observing it.

I agree that Maher is off base to a point (although I think he's spot on about global warming in particular), but I like to look at all sides, and having posted the other "extreme" by Feyeraband, I thought it only fair to give a rejoinder.

The thing is that I don't see what Feyeraband wrote and Maher said as being completely at odds.

Thanks for the feedback!