cultural myths and misery

Simon Kartar skartar at
Thu Dec 6 04:21:02 EST 2001

Well said John,

An excellent post. I thought that Kant's critique of pure reason and Russell's paradox had shaken a blind faith in the scientific method a long time ago? 

For those interested in this thread, 'Pip Pip' by Jay Griffiths is a wonderful polemic on time as seen from the scientific, verifiable perspective and a whole host of cultural perspectives. I found it fascinating.


>>> eco_living at 06/12/2001 08:53:32 >>>

Nice try, but the very quote you use:

> "Man's [sic] achievements rest upon the use of
> symbols. For this reason, we must consider
> ourselves as a symbolic, semantic class of life,
> and those who rule the symbols, rule us."

...supports my point.  If you insist on this:

> need to provide quantitative and verified data to
> convince those of us who don't want to be led
> around by the stupid-ring in our noses.

Then you are ruled by those who rule through the dogma of science
(scientific assumptions/symbols) as the only "legitimate" manner of
explaining.  You want me to use the tautologies (tautologous - "true by
virtue of its logical form alone") of science, and only those, to
construct a convincing argument concerning science; other manners of
explaining are not allowed, because - they're not scientific!  How
convenient for the rulers of the symbols!  And how very similar to
other forms of religious fundamentalism.


Science never "proves" anything.  It can *disprove*; it can *improve* a
theorem; that's all.  Any "data" will be "verified" by those who find
it can explain what they want it to and rejected by those who find it
can't.  And all "data" is just "anecdotes" (stories we tell ourselves)
gathered in a particular context by particular observers with a
particular intent.

That's why science is inherently "political" - because *all* data,
experiments, statistics, calculations, quantifying, verifying etc. are
observed/created/designed/manipulated/*done* by living breathing human
beings, who have intents and desires and beliefs and loves and hates
and so on, against which some abstract idea of "pure" science doesn't
stand a chance of surviving in practice.

This can be observed easily - scientists frequently disagree, even when
working on the very same project and playing with the very same
experiments and data sets and so on.  If "quantifying" and "verifying"
and so on were in any way *truly* objective manners of explaining
(they're not, because there's always multiple humans involved), they'd
all agree, all the time.

So perhaps if you were to start collecting data (articles from many
sources about scientific disagreements, for example) over a long period
of time, you could quantify and verify to your satisfaction that this
actually happens.  Collecting data on politicians and businesspeople
warping "science" to fit their desires might be a whole 'nother data
set (though I suspect there'd be lots of overlap).


John Schinnerer, MA
- Eco-Living -
Cultural & Ecological Designing
Food - Shelter - Community
john at 

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