February 28, 2006

"This is a national problem. It’s not just a Harvard problem."

Here's Camille Paglia talking about the Larry Summers affair on Open Source Radio:
The humanities have destroyed themselves over the past 30 years… Through an obsession with European jargon and a shallow politicization of discourse, the humanities have imploded… There’s hardly a campus you can name where the most exciting things that are happening on campus are coming from the humanities departments… I think the entire profession is in withdrawal at the moment. This is a national problem. It’s not just a Harvard problem.
Amusingly, Open Source did a general search for a creative commons photo of Camille Paglia and ended up using one that I took. I've appeared on Open Source Radio more than once -- here and here -- but this was just a coincidence. It's also funny because Paglia actually got mad at me for taking her picture (because I accidentally set off the flash). Here's my old post about Paglia's appearance in Madison.

55 comments:

knoxgirl said...

Camille's right. I thought all that stuff was so cool when I was in college, now I regret that a lot of the great novels I read were interpreted so cheaply (ie politically) by my profs.

Squiggler said...

Years ago I asked my Mother for Camille Paglia's latest book as a Christmas present. I can remember so well her reaction ... one of shock. She said, "are you sure, do you know anything about her?" "Of course," said I. Now, to set the stage, I was very active in Republican politics and very pro-life and not very supportive of the feminist movement that was in full swing at that time. My Mother, on the other hand, was a ground breaker for women's rights going back into the 1930s and an avowed feminist. We rarely saw eye to eye on anything when it came to feminism. But, I got the book. It didn't change my mind about the feminist movement as it was being promoted at that time, but it made me a fan of Camille. I'm off to find that book on my bookshelf, because right this minute, the title escapes me.

Dave said...

I read a lot of the so-called "great" novels in college but miraculously was spared (most) politicizations of them.

I only had, as I recall, one overtly liberal professor, and, in fact I had at least one professor who was an avowed Catholic.

I went to a mainstream university and majored in English.

Either I was unusually lucky in this regard, or the pervasiveness of curriculum politicization is vastly overstated by put upon conservative students.

I don't really know what the true situation is. (I am also willing to consider that perhaps I have become so inured to liberal ramblings that those of my professors went in one ear and out the proverbial other.)

Eli Blake said...

Dave:

I think you may be right that it is overstated. They can always find the most egregious examples, like the Ward Churchills, but I work at a college, and I am a Liberal activist, so I'd be a prime candidate for this stuff, except that as a professional, I check my politics and religion when I walk in the door (granted I teach math, so there is little political that I could talk about even if I was unprofessional). I think that most of my colleagues are the same, we teach our classes and don't get overtly political. I did once hear a professor in a video classroom I had to go into to leave some documents in a folder talking about Reagan (yes, from a liberal viewpoint) but the class was Political Science, and since it was about a thirty second 'random sample' of his lecture, I can't say if he was giving his own opinion or a 'this is what liberals said about Reagan' demonstration for the discussion.

But on the whole, I think the whole topic is overrated-- using the one in a hundred who eschews professionalism in teaching a topic as the 'typical professor' is like pointing to pedophile priests as the 'typical clergyman.'

Dave said...

Eli,

Of course you can politicize math. Just look at the post-structuralists and post-modernists who assert that objectivity is a manmade construct. According to them, a multicultural approach to math entails that two plus two need not equal four in all places at all times.

This, of course, goes against all the rudiments of number theory (to say nothing of science and empiricism) and it is these radicals which conservatives (and moderates) object to so much.

I don't doubt these types of professors are out there--see Michel Foucault and his apologists--but I don't know how pervasive they are.

There's a difference between being a liberal and being a post-modernist or -structuralist. Most liberals, I would aver, do not dismiss the idea of universal, mathematical truths.

Jacques Cuze said...

objectivity is a manmade construct. According to them, a multicultural approach to math entails that two plus two need not equal four in all places at all times.

But, objectivity is a manmade construct. See Heisenberg, Planck, Lorentz, Einstein, Riemann et. al. for clarification. NB: The Anthropomorphic principle, Schrodinger's Cat, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, etc. Two plus two need not equal four. A triangle need not have angles that add up to 180 degrees. It depends upon your surface, your metric, your axioms, your group operations. This is in perfect accordance with number theory, science and empiricism. This is Basic Algebra, really.

Maybe your beloved straw-conservatives do not understand that which you would have them complain about.

Would you please find me someone who thinks that two plus two need not equal four in all places at all times for multicultural reasons?

Bah!

PatCA said...

I completely agree with her. Obsession with America's--and only America's--failures in race and gender is institutionalized by curriculum requirements. It's like a Maoist Cultural Revolution swept in a Ward Churchillian world during the '70s, and now we are undergoing another phase of creative destruction...I hope.

Johnny Nucleo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Johnny Nucleo said...

"Two plus two need not equal four."

You don't really believe that, do you, Quxxo? If you do, why are you so certain of your point of view? If objective truth does not exist, then what the hell are you so mad about? You hate Bush, I like Bush. You like chocolate ice cream, I like vanilla ice cream. It's all good. No truth is more true that any other.

Dave said...

Re: two plus two equaling four...

If you use a base 10 number system, then it needs to equal four. Not so if you use another number system with a different base.

But this is irrelevant to my earlier point about multi-culti approaches to mathematical truths.

Jacques Cuze said...

But this is irrelevant to my earlier point about multi-culti approaches to mathematical truths.

Your point is nonsense until you cite an actual multi-culti approach to mathematical truths.

ShadyCharacter said...

Dave and Eli, two self-professed liberal activists, are confused as to this so-called liberal bias others recognize in the academy.

It's like a pig-farmer saying, what smell?

Or the Wizard of Oz saying, I don't know what you're talking about, that doesn't look very green to me!

Though Dave's horizons were expanded by his experience with "an avowed Catholic" professor! Can you imagine such a thing???!!!

dick said...

David,

I don't know about all the schools, but back in the late 1950's at a private liberal arts university in Ohio the LLL was very definitely alive and well. I also was majoring in English for a time and if the analysis of any book was not politically leftist you might just as well forget the grade. I had a friend who turned in a paper criticizing the NHS in Britain and he got an F because the paper was not telling the truth. He got the facts in the paper from his father who had been a doctor under the NHS in Britain while the professor had spent a vacation there after the NHS was set up. You had better write that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent victims of the capitalists and that socialism was the only possible method of government or it was all over.

I only had one English professor who was not a totally whacked LLL moonbat and he left to teach at a Quaker school (Earlham).

Dave said...

Shady: How do you conclude I'm a "self-professed liberal activist"?

I made no such comment.

Yours is a stupid comment.

AlaskaJack said...

Quxxo, one question: is it objectively true that there is no objective truth?

While you're spending the rest of your life trying to answer this question, please take a philosophy course and spare us your sophomoric gibberish.

ShadyCharacter said...

No YOU'RE stupid. Er, I mean, your comment is stupid… =)

Yeah, yeah, it was only Eli who said, quote, "I am a Liberal activist." You did not say that explicitly. I doubt you'd deny that you were very liberal though.

Looking back at your post you do write: "I am also willing to consider that perhaps I have become so inured to liberal ramblings that those of my professors went in one ear and out the proverbial other."

So which is it, Dave? You never encountered liberal politicization in college or it was so pervasive you could no longer distinguish it from the background noise? Almost like a pig-farmer might be inured to the smell of his charges, or the Wizard of Oz in his Emerald City might be desensitized to the color green?

I can’t believe the sagacity of my comment eluded you!

Who's stupid now??

lindsey said...

quxxo, Google "anti-racist math". And then start clicking.

Icepick said...

Dave, 2 + 2 = 4 has nothing to do with using base ten. 2 + 2 = 4 even if you're using base two, it just looks different. (10 + 10 = 100) Quxxo is discussing equivalence classes and modulo arithmetic. All the bases do is change the representation, and has nothing to do with the underlying value.

And for you math-phobes, don't worry. 2 + 2 = 4 in the real number system and using the standard operations, which is all 99.9999+% of humanity ever uses.

Icepick said...

(And Quxxo, don't you go scaring the nice math-phobes by telling them that I lied about how many of them use modulo arithmetic.)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

In the comments to your Paglia link, you said to RLC, asking for an ancient typewriter:

Richard: I need to move out of my house just to rid myself of the accumulated clutter. I just don't have the incentive to throw anything out. So, yes, I do have the typewriter (and another one too and numerous computers). And I do still have my old "Maggie Mae" paper, which I ran across recently and read with a combination of shame (at myself) and outrage (at the institution that should have forced me to become educated).

9:05 AM, April 28, 2005


The seeds of your upcoming move have been around a long time it seems.

XWL said...

No need to make up absurd false absurdities when the real life absurdities are absurd enough.

Click on the syllabus link here (can't seem to link to the syllabus directly) and tell me that this class wouldn't be exactly what Paglia is on about.

(And I pick on Princeton only cause it's also Ivy and you can have access to the syllabi, I'm sure there are worse examples out there)

Henry said...

Paglia tears into Summers as well. In fact, in typical fashion, she just tears into everyone:

"The entire educational system in the United States is deranged. It's absolutely deranged. It's a terrible hamster wheel."

Interesting that Lyden mentions that his kids were home schooled. He tells Paglia "good for you" for trying to reform the system, though with Paglia, declarations of war always preempt the plans for reform.

Slopoke said...

I thought a couple of her comments were great and have gone uncommented upon ... "sheik nihilism" - NO KIDDING!! I also think this speaks to Anne's point about how she is treated by liberals and conservatives with respect to her posts.

2nd comment: "erudition is not a value" in recruitment...how could it be if you already know you are right ... you have to hire the nihilists

Finally: she mentions the media and suggests they could be used to question the PC status quo in universities (maybe I heard her wrong), but she doesn't strike me as that out to lunch so how does she think the media is capable of this?

I have taught at several universities and I am currently at two in the midwest. I know very few of the liberals who check their politics at the door; in fact, they believe it their duty to not do so because the skulls of mush need them to not do so.

Robert said...

Two plus two equals four for sufficiently broad values of two and four. Here's a joke that will separate the aged from the youthful:

Engineering prof to engineering student: You! What's two plus two?

Engineering student (fiddles with slide rule for a while): Let's see...three point nine nine nine nine...nuts, let's just call it four.

Ann Althouse said...

"sheik nihilism"

It must have been "chic nihilism," right? But "sheik nihilism" amuses me.

Slopoke said...

To be perfectly honest, I was having a brain fart moment on "chic" and I guess I had other news of the week on the brain. At least I know better than to post late at night.

Jacques Cuze said...

I am not saying there are no facts. I am saying that you cannot separate measurement of a phenomena with the phenomena itself.

I am saying the facts demonstrate that Bush lies.

I am saying that no matter how many happy pills he/she takes, a Supreme Court Justice and Newspaper Reporters are silly and wrong when they make the claim they can measure/decide/report on cases in a neutral and objective manner.

There are only two professions left these days that claim this magical ability to be objective, and that's journalism and judging. Why is that?

Even the basis behind the beloved dialectic understands that objectivity is not possible. If one judge can objective measure the facts, why bother with prosecutor and defense?

And the founders knew there was no such thing as objectivity: why call for nine seats on the Supreme Court and not just one?

Oooh, oooh, oooh, the mere process of becoming a judge transubstantiates an advocate into a magically marvellously measurably objective judge. Sounds like papal infallibility to me. Sounds like pap. Eat it up, yum.

altoids1306 said...

Quxxo:

But, objectivity is a manmade construct. See Heisenberg, Planck, Lorentz, Einstein, Riemann et. al. for clarification. NB: The Anthropomorphic principle, Schrodinger's Cat, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, etc. Two plus two need not equal four. A triangle need not have angles that add up to 180 degrees. It depends upon your surface, your metric, your axioms, your group operations. This is in perfect accordance with number theory, science and empiricism. This is Basic Algebra, really.

If you would be willing to find a tall building, and leap off the roof, I would be willing to demonstrate that gravity is a quite objective construct.

altoids1306 said...

Quxxo:

But, objectivity is a manmade construct. See Heisenberg, Planck, Lorentz, Einstein, Riemann et. al. for clarification. NB: The Anthropomorphic principle, Schrodinger's Cat, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, etc. Two plus two need not equal four. A triangle need not have angles that add up to 180 degrees. It depends upon your surface, your metric, your axioms, your group operations. This is in perfect accordance with number theory, science and empiricism. This is Basic Algebra, really.

If you would be willing to find a tall building, and leap off the roof, I would be willing to demonstrate that gravity is a quite objective construct.

Jacques Cuze said...

So I googled anti-racist math and came up with lots of interpretations of one Newton Massachusetts math program. Read and still had no idea what anti-racist math is.

It is absolutely clear that no one is teaching kids that 2 + 2 != 4.

The best discussion comes not from the wikipedia page on anti-racist math, but from the wikipedia discussion page on the wikipedia page on anti-racist math:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Anti-racist_mathematics

If anything anti-racist math is a watered down math program where teaching the fundamentals is not the priority as much as teaching different cultural approaches to teach math is. Sounds like a great course, but doesn't sound great in the grade schools.

As I said, no one is teaching that 2 + 2 = 5. How can you nutcakes possibly think that would be so? Did Osama scare you that much? Are you that insane?

altoids1306 said...

Schrodinger's's Cat was the way Schrodinger demonstrated the absurdity of measurements determining outcome. It's an argument against subjectivity, not for it.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Are you serious?

delta(x)*delta(p) >= hbar/2

It has nothing to do with objectivity. It's an invariant principle that explains, among other things, why electrons don't spiral in and crash into their respective nuclei. It's a probablistic statement, but that doesn't mean it's not objective, anymore than a die is not objective.

Seriously, if you want to invoke quantum mechanics, you should consider the risk that you might encounter someone who actually understands quantum mechanics.

The self-destruction of the humanities, Exhibit A.

Jacques Cuze said...

Hey deltoids, stop with the steroids and the factoids and google Copenhagen Interpretation.

Here's the Straight Dope's Epic Poem on the subject

Here's James Schombert, professor of physics, who puts it better than I:

For centuries, scientists have gotten used to the idea that something like strong objectivity is the foundation of knowledge. So much so that we have come to believe that it is an essential part of the scientific method and that without this most solid kind of objectivity science would be pointless and arbitrary. However, the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics (see below) denies that there is any such thing as a true and unambiguous reality at the bottom of everything. Reality is what you measure it to be, and no more. No matter how uncomfortable science is with this viewpoint, quantum physics is extremely accurate and is the foundation of modern physics (perhaps then an objective view of reality is not essential to the conduct of physics). And concepts, such as cause and effect, survive only as a consequence of the collective behavior of large quantum systems.

Bruce Hayden said...

The other thing that quxxo talks about is that while mathematics appears, in our frame of reference, to result in 2+2=4, it is because of our localized point of reference.

Two, somewhat interrelated instances of this come to mind. He mentioned non-Euclidian geometries (one of the most fun classes I had in college). We assume that we live on a plane. But, of course, we don't. On a plane, two parallel lines never intersect. But we live on a somewhat spherical body (i.e. the earth), where parallel lines do intersect, and the sum of the angles of a triangle don't add up to 180 degrees. You just have to look at the longitude lines to see that parallel lines do intersect.

Another example he mentioned, relativity. If you have two objects moving apart from each other, each at 9 mph, they will be separating at 9+9=18 mph. Ditto for .9 M (speed of sound). But not so, for .9 C (speed of light). Here is a table of the effect of relativity as the velocity of each of two objects traveling apart goes from .1C to .9C.

0.1C*2 = 0.1980C
0.2C*2 = 0.3846C
0.3C*2 = 0.5505C
0.4C*2 = 0.6897C
0.5C*2 = 0.8000C
0.6C*2 = 0.8824C
0.7C*2 = 0.9396C
0.8C*2 = 0.9756C
0.9C*2 = 0.9945C

Thus, at .1C, 1+1=1.9802, while at .9C, 1+1=1.1050

altoids1306 said...

Wow quxxo, I'm glad you can google. And rhyme.

Seriously, if you want to debate quantum mechanics, I'm your man. On the shelf next 4 inches behind this computer screen, I have both Griffiths and Shankar, the two standard texts for undergrad QM. Next to those are Jackson, the standard graduate text, and Kittel, a oldie-but-goodie for solid-state physics. I have read all of them. On the table, next to my keyboard, is Lundstrom's Fundamentals of Carrier Transport, which I am reading now. I have such an overwhelming advantage as to make debate with you barely enjoyable.

The Copenhagen interpretation is just that - an interpretation. There are realist, orthodox, and agnostic stances to the metaphysical question of what is.

Assuming you have intellectual curiosity beyond 10 minutes of googling, please read the afterword of Griffiths' text, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (pp 374-385 in 1994 edition). This textbook is easily found in any university library.

Jacques Cuze said...

I have both Griffiths and Shankar, the two standard texts for undergrad QM. Next to those are Jackson, the standard graduate text, and Kittel, a oldie-but-goodie for solid-state physics. I have read all of them. On the table, next to my keyboard, is Lundstrom's Fundamentals of Carrier Transport, which I am reading now. I have such an overwhelming advantage as to make debate with you barely enjoyable.


Oh goody, you have 9 uncut inches of books! I only have 6 inches (H&R Vol I &II and my 20 year old diploma) in this dick fight of yours.

Uh, except I note that when you whipped out your inches, you forgot to refute Schombert or anything I said, excepting to puff up your inches by yourself and say that well, there are other interpretations. Yeah, there are other interpretations, but which one is by far the dominant interpretation and the one taught to all? I'm not saying that the Copenhagen Interpretation is the be all and end all, but you are making out like it's one of dozens of others equally good.

The point being that if you have read those shelf-inches and not just stroked them, you know I am correct: there are facts, but the scientific process insists you must take measurement of those facts into account along with the measurements themselves. Objectivity is a man-made construct.

altoids1306 said...

If you actually read Griffith's afterword, you will find, in my opinion, a very comprehensive treatment of the Copenhagen interpretation, as well as descriptions of some of the more "fun" experiments done over the years, like EPR and Quantum Xeno paradox, which directly address the issue of observation and non-locality.

The reason it's in the afterword is because the Copenhagen interpretation, like all other metaphysical interpretations, is not science. It is not the dominant interpretation (most physicists simply don't care - it's a non-issue, since it's not science - they're agnostic), but I'll submit that it is a commonly used pedagogal tool. And, if you actually understand the mathematical basis behind what the Copenhagen interpretation is trying to interpret, it really has no bearing on objectivity. The collapse of a quantum particle to a spin-up or spin-down state happens in a probablistic fashion. Again, probabilty is just another type of determinism, not subjectivity.

So not only is the Copenhagen interpretation not science and just a interesting metaphysical mental exercise, even if it were universally accepted as true, it would have no bearing on the question at hand.

I'm not going to get drawn into this. I can't have an conversation with you if you don't even understand the terms by which the question is framed. This isn't a matter of inches, it's like barking back at a dog. If you want to argue that I have been ignoring your statements, well, I invite any reader to scroll up through these comments to see who has been ignoring whom.

My intention has never been to convince you. The insane don't know they're insane. My intention was to disabuse any rational bystander of the notion that objectivity is a man-made construct. It's bad enough that Bush pushes intelligent design as science. It's infinitely worse when someone pretends to know something about science to buttress some ridiculousness about no objectivity.

As I said before and as you ignored, I invite you to test the objectivity of gravity by jumping off the roof of a tall building.

I'm done here.

Smilin' Jack said...

quxxo said...
Objectivity is a man-made construct.


We physicists get really tired of hearing relativity and quantum mechanics invoked to support that kind of crap. The opposite is true...if physics were man-made, it would be Newtonian. Relativity and QM are very counterintuitive, and we only believe them now because objective reality has forced us to. That reality has decisively refuted our subjective, intuitive concepts of the way the wrold should work.

E.g. nuclear weapons are designed in precise accordance with the principles of relativity and QM, and if you happen to be in the vicinity of one when it goes off, you will be objectively, as well as subjectively and multiculturally, dead.

Ross said...

In college, I took three courses from history professor Richard Berthold at the University of New Mexico, who won nationwide notoriety on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, for telling a classroom full of Roman history students "anyone who bombs the Pentaon is OK in my book" or somesuch.

It was obviously an idiotic thing to say, and I believe he retired shortly after (he was around the right age anyway).

Anyway, despite being an over-the-top campus radical (though also one who, if memory serves, had no patience whatsoever for PC nonsense), he gave the best lectures of any professor I had in my five and a half years as an undergrad. He was incredibly passionate about his subject and spread that passion to hundreds of students in his packed classes every semester.

People are way, way more interesting than their politics.

knoxgirl said...

I had a history professor in college I thought was great too. Problem was, she assigned books by people like Todd Gitlin, without telling us who he was and just exactly what (radical leftist) point of view he was coming from.

It amuses me that so many liberals say the problem is overstated or that it doesn't exist. It is true that very few profs probably actually get up and start pontificating about how bad Reagan sucked. Thing is, it's not what your prof gets up and says. 99% of the time--as the above little anecdote illustrates --it's what's *left out* of the discussion that's telling.

It's a cliche at this point, but it really bugs me that liberals are for "diversity" but they are so blase about the fact that faculties are so uniform in their political viewpoint. And they try to act like it's silly to even suggest that such an unbalanced situation has no effect on how students are taught.

David said...

The joke was fine - even though slightly wrong. The engineering student was asked 2 * 2, not 2 + 2. (You do multiplication on a slide rule, not addition.)

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

quxxo seems to paraphrase Heisenberg to say that 'objectivity and subjectivity are both properties of an event and I have determined, correctly should you care to disagree, both. Class may continue. Please do not be so grandiose as to ask anything but questions derivative of these assumptions (also those noted before).' Thanks though, altoids, for speaking out of school. Did somebody say something about a reductio ad absurdum?

Bezuhov said...

"I am saying that no matter how many happy pills he/she takes, a Supreme Court Justice and Newspaper Reporters are silly and wrong when they make the claim they can measure/decide/report on cases in a neutral and objective manner.

There are only two professions left these days that claim this magical ability to be objective, and that's journalism and judging. Why is that?"

You're conflating being with becoming. If I recall my philosophy, the ontological with the teleological. Even if perfect objectivity is impossible, it is a useful goal for producing the sort of social harmony currently so sorely lacking.

I would contend that it would be helpful to stop calling the bias plaguing academia "liberal", as true liberals will be essential in rectifying it. "Chic nihilism" is deadly accurate.

JFP said...

1. Is it objectively true that global warming is occurring? If not, then why bother worrying about it?

2. My wife is a professor, and I have been a professor, too. While we leave politics out of the classroom, we hear other professors talk about what they tell their students, and it is horrible.

3. I've also worked in a college bookstore, and the books used are very indicative of the mindset of those teaching. I seldom saw titles like "The Battle of the Bulge" or "Brazil," but saw instead things like -- these are my own imaginary titles -- "Gays and Women in WWII" and "Marginalized in the Amazon."

4. Finally, if the Ward Churchill's are the exceptions, why is it that they are so reluctant to boot him out, even though he's a known plagiarist?

Matt said...

quxxo,

you said, "And the founders knew there was no such thing as objectivity: why call for nine seats on the Supreme Court and not just one?"

Actually, the Constitution makes no specification as to the size of the Supreme Court. That is at the discretion of Congress. The Court originally had five justices, if I remmeber corectly. FDR's "court-packing" scheme was an attempt to get congress to increase the size of the court (so that he could appoint new justices). Congress would be well within its authority to reduce the size of the court to one (although it would take a while, as they could not give any current justice the boot without impeachment).

P. Froward said...

If Ward Churchill's such a rare exception, why was the lady who replaced him even crazier?

That having been said, it's worth remembering that Churchill taught a Mickey-Mouse pseudosubject. Academics in "soft" fields veer a lot more to the left than academics in real fields like science and engineering, where you the results are either reproducible or they aren't, where your theory has predictive value or it doesn't, where your algorithm is O(log n) or O(n**2), and it's not a matter of "opinion".

Left-wing physicists may waste some of their students' time with rants, but they're not lying about physics in their papers or in the classroom, because they'd get caught. Furthermore, the kind of students who show up in serious physics classes might actually complain if the prof wastes too much of their time. The poor losers in the fuzzy subjects are there because they want to waste their time — or else because they're too muddle-headed to tell whether their time is being wasted or not.

Should we care? No. We should not care. Liberal arts education in this country was a disaster long before the New Left ever existed. Why? We are Americans and we simply don't give a damn about liberal arts. Can you harvest grain with it? Build a bridge with it? Blow stuff up with it? Can you even produce art or literature with it (Remember what Truman Capote said about John Barth)? Nope! Yawwwn! We never took it seriously, we never did it well, and we didn't much care when the idiots took it over, because it's worthless anyway. A coup in the Mickey Mouse Club is not front-page news.

In our modern economy, we have a glut of the sort of folks who were intended by nature to plough furrows or go into domestic service. Sociology and English Lit departments are a humane way to keep these knuckleheads busy and out of trouble. Don't make it out to be any more than it is.

Intelligent people have more important things to worry about.

pst314 said...

"Just look at the post-structuralists and post-modernists who assert that objectivity is a manmade construct."

Some books that explore (and eviscerate) various post-modern nonsense about science and mathematics and objective knowledge:

Higher Superstition, by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt

The Flight from Science and Reason, edited by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt

A House Built on Sand, by Noretta Koertge

Intellectual Impostures, by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont

It is a favorite claim of the post-modern left that there is no such thing as objective knowledge, only self-interest and power.

Perfectly disinterested objectivity is something that no human being can achieve, but to assert that there is no such thing as objectivity is sophistry.

pst314 said...

"We physicists get really tired of hearing relativity and quantum mechanics invoked to support that kind of crap."

What he said.

AST said...

The fact that anybody takes Camille Paglia seriously is part of the problem. Anything radical, shocking, offensive or anti-american is wonderful. Anything else is treated with scorn, then repression, then suppression.

My label for it is PoMo Crap.

This whole thing reminds me of the warnings in the 50s and 60s about the undermining of freedom by radicals. It was said, They talk about freedom for themselves, but when they get power, there will be none for anyone else.

Bezuhov said...

"1. Is it objectively true that global warming is occurring? If not, then why bother worrying about it?"

The question is too broad (i.e. involving too many variables and uncertainty regarding model validity) to be meaningful.

Many attempting a good faith objective representation of some of the variables involved are convinced that it is enough of a possibility that prudence would dictate taking some measures to prevent it; just as it was prudent to remove Saddam Hussein despite the lack of 100% objective certainty that he would pass WMD's on to terrorists.

Bezuhov said...

p. froward,

It is just the sort of ridiculous cluelessness you've revealed here that keeps the liberals we need to save asademia allied with the nihilistic leftists destroying it in a misguided defensive crouch.

Thanks for nothing.

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

P. Froward said...

Bezuhov, you don't mean "academia". You mean "humanities departments".

If you can give me one good reason to believe that we suddenly can't live without the efficient functioning of humanities departments, I'd like to hear it, because we never missed it before.

Are we in danger of forgetting Faulkner? "Danger" is not the word I would use.

But seriously. Some of the unspoken assumptions underlying this discussion could use a little fresh air.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

quxxo- Since you are apparently an expert on mathematical physics, would you mind at least writing down the idea behind the proof of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Maybe even give some indication as to what it refers to? Let me just tell you, it has NOTHING to do with reality being subjective.

If you want politicization of science, just google the Sokal Hoax and go to Alan Sokal's (Physicist-NYU) webpage. He's a lefty, but discusses the politicization of science. Read especially his piece in Lingua Franca where he reveals the hoax. Funny thing is that the politicization is not by scientists, but by humanities people who don't know their a** from a hole in the ground.

Oh, and while you're at it, please tell me what all of those people in those very expensive labs are doing if reality is subjective? I mean, how do they know that the petrie dishes contain a particular kind of bacteria rather than another kind. After all, it could be just, their phenomological perception of reality, or better yet, a product of their cultural upbringing. Seems like a giant waste of time, it seems to me.

You know how to throw around terms. At least you were _somewhat_ substantive in this thraed. As much as I refrain from personal insults on blogs, I don't think Prof. Althouse will mind me saying that you really are an idiot.

knoxgirl said...

P Frow-- your rant is a bit weird. Someone used the term "nihilism" to describe lefties. You're getting dangerously close yourself!

I mean, you can't be serious.

pst314 said...

Yevgeny Vilensky, thanks for correcting my failure of memory by mentioning Alan Sokal's webpage. It has enough documents and links to keep somebody busy for days.

Bezuhov said...

"P Frow-- your rant is a bit weird. Someone used the term "nihilism" to describe lefties. You're getting dangerously close yourself!

I mean, you can't be serious."

No, he's just missing a right brain. Decent left one, evidently; perhaps there's hope - mine showed up late.