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  1. #1

    Default Transgressing the Boundaries

    Disclaimer:For those of you informed enough to understand where I am coming from regarding this topic, I ask that you let things be. Or, at least provide facts to further the discussion.

    I am not out to embarrass anyone. I don't approve of how the author originally did things. Still, there is a certain emotional response based on the structure how this was done in the past that I want to explore explicitly. I do understand his motivations.

    Perhaps, it will expose my own arrogance. I am exploring new strategies regarding how to deal with things I find ridiculous.
    ------------------------------------

    The article I want to discuss is a little bit of philosophy regarding how modern physics is upsetting the social order imposed by older physics:
    Transgressing the Boundaries:Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

    It starts off....
    There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ``eternal'' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ``objective'' procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.

    But deep conceptual shifts within twentieth-century science have undermined this Cartesian-Newtonian metaphysics1; revisionist studies in the history and philosophy of science have cast further doubt on its credibility2; and, most recently, feminist and poststructuralist critiques have demystified the substantive content of mainstream Western scientific practice, revealing the ideology of domination concealed behind the façade of ``objectivity''.3 It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical ``reality'', no less than social ``reality'', is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific ``knowledge", far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities. These themes can be traced, despite some differences of emphasis, in Aronowitz's analysis of the cultural fabric that produced quantum mechanics4; in Ross' discussion of oppositional discourses in post-quantum science5; in Irigaray's and Hayles' exegeses of gender encoding in fluid mechanics6; and in Harding's comprehensive critique of the gender ideology underlying the natural sciences in general and physics in particular.7
    What? What does feminism have to do with objectivity? This seems ridiculous to me. Science cannot assert a priviledged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic naratives? What?

    I know that I only put in bold a section of this, as things I find explicitly ridiculous, but a lot of it reads like it says nothing, or more like nothing that can be made sense of. The whole piece is littered with non-statements and nonsense from my perspective.

    There are so many excerpts that I find ridiculous. Here is a little ridiculousness on relativity(in bold):
    It is in Einstein's general theory of relativity (1915) that the radical conceptual break occurs: the space-time geometry becomes contingent and dynamical, encoding in itself the gravitational field. Mathematically, Einstein breaks with the tradition dating back to Euclid (and which is inflicted on high-school students even today!), and employs instead the non-Euclidean geometry developed by Riemann. Einstein's equations are highly nonlinear, which is why traditionally-trained mathematicians find them so difficult to solve.33 Newton's gravitational theory corresponds to the crude (and conceptually misleading) truncation of Einstein's equations in which the nonlinearity is simply ignored. Einstein's general relativity therefore subsumes all the putative successes of Newton's theory, while going beyond Newton to predict radically new phenomena that arise directly from the nonlinearity: the bending of starlight by the sun, the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, and the gravitational collapse of stars into black holes.
    Again, what? This was written in 1995, long after Einstein and Minkowski did their work, do people really believe that "traditionally" trained mathematicians have trouble because of the "nonlinearity"? What?

    The article just goes on and on in this form in this form of ridiculousness. But I am willing to see the light if people are willing to explain things to me.

    I made another thread on what I should do in the face of ridiculous statements. This particular article represents a whole litany of ridiculous statements. So if you need an example that will likely not touch on something you hold dear, this article is great.


    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Honestly, reading this sounded like a bunch of gibberish and nonsense. Everyone wants to believe that important ideas are important to everything--they aren't.

    I could definitely see scientific progress stopped/halted/regressed because of a disbelief in women being intelligent beings, and that's been proven in the past and present time and time again. However. This issue is not very articulate or concise in creating... whatever point it's trying to create. Which just sounds like a thesaurus university paper right now.

    The math isn't all messed up because the dude's personal beliefs are x or y about women. The math itself is fine. Progressing the math faster or quicker by teaching women but choosing actively not to based on personal opinion? Yeah, I can see that back in the day especially, and to a far far lesser extent in developed countries now a days. But this reminds me of the Onion article my boyfriend always brings up.

    Bigoted Asshole Makes The Best Barbecue | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

    "Friends of local man Charles Wyatt, an intolerant asshole who unrepentantly despises all non-Caucasians, confirmed Tuesday that the deeply bigoted man makes the best barbecue around. "

    The math is still math whether the person doing it is a feminist or not. I agree there needs to be some boundaries torn down in this department still.. But honestly, the BEST way to do that is for female STEMs to take more active interests and effort into it. I hope that the male STEMs would too.. but female STEMs need to show little girls that they can and are capable of developing the STEM fields, and getting them out there. The schools need to encourage that more too. It's like when people cry that more video game developers aren't female.. they aren't female because they don't want to be video game developers. The ones who do? Are. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing it now a days. If you don't want to really press the subject and fight for something, male or female, chances are you won't get it.

    Seriously, I have no clue wtf this article is talking about. It doesn't make any sense to me, and I read just the quoted parts twice.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Amalie Muller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Disclaimer:For those of you informed enough to understand where I am coming from regarding this topic, I ask that you let things be. Or, at least provide facts to further the discussion.

    I am not out to embarrass anyone. I don't approve of how the author originally did things. Still, there is a certain emotional response based on the structure how this was done in the past that I want to explore explicitly. I do understand his motivations.

    Perhaps, it will expose my own arrogance. I am exploring new strategies regarding how to deal with things I find ridiculous.
    ------------------------------------

    The article I want to discuss is a little bit of philosophy regarding how modern physics is upsetting the social order imposed by older physics:
    Transgressing the Boundaries:Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

    It starts off....

    What? What does feminism have to do with objectivity? This seems ridiculous to me. Science cannot assert a priviledged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic naratives? What?

    I know that I only put in bold a section of this, as things I find explicitly ridiculous, but a lot of it reads like it says nothing, or more like nothing that can be made sense of. The whole piece is littered with non-statements and nonsense from my perspective.

    There are so many excerpts that I find ridiculous. Here is a little ridiculousness on relativity(in bold):

    Again, what? This was written in 1995, long after Einstein and Minkowski did their work, do people really believe that "traditionally" trained mathematicians have trouble because of the "nonlinearity"? What?

    The article just goes on and on in this form in this form of ridiculousness. But I am willing to see the light if people are willing to explain things to me.

    I made another thread on what I should do in the face of ridiculous statements. This particular article represents a whole litany of ridiculous statements. So if you need an example that will likely not touch on something you hold dear, this article is great.

    The article made a lot of sense to me. I wouldn't say I agreed with everything it says, but there are some good points in there.

    Guess it just comes down to personal taste as to whether you enjoy reading this kind of material or not.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amalie Muller View Post
    The article made a lot of sense to me. I wouldn't say I agreed with everything it says, but there are some good points in there.

    Guess it just comes down to personal taste as to whether you enjoy reading this kind of material or not.
    The article at the link made sense to you? If you could, can you explain it to me?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kyuuei View Post
    Seriously, I have no clue wtf this article is talking about. It doesn't make any sense to me, and I read just the quoted parts twice.
    This is about where I am on this article also. It's too incoherent to make sense of, and the parts that did make sense seemed just untrue.

    Also, I agree with you. As far as STEM and gender bias, I think that is going away. But this trend is a reflection of society as a whole, not because the scientific method has been revised.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  6. #6
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    ygolo, I also don't honestly understand the scientific point of that kind of writing style, which indeed I have met (from time to time) in newspapers or scientific publications. My personal impression was that its aim is "creating an emotional/social impact", rather than furthering our understanding of the world. Thus, my reaction was not to take it seriously.

    I'm talking about scientific point, because we're not dealing with the marketing department of a big company here - in that case, I'd easily understand the need for an emotional appeal.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  7. #7
    Senior Member Amalie Muller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The article at the link made sense to you? If you could, can you explain it to me?
    Um, no. I'd sound like the article writer did haha! XD

    But it's pretty self-explanatory really. (But then, I'm a science/math/philosophy nerd so maybe I'm just more used to these kinds of ideas.) There isn't anything very "new" or "radical" in this, as far as I can see...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Amalie Muller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    ygolo, I also don't honestly understand the scientific point of that kind of writing style, which indeed I have met (from time to time) in newspapers or scientific publications. My personal impression was that its aim is "creating an emotional/social impact", rather than furthering our understanding of the world. Thus, my reaction was not to take it seriously.

    I'm talking about scientific point, because we're not dealing with the marketing department of a big company here - in that case, I'd easily understand the need for an emotional appeal.
    I think one of the points of the article was that there is no reason to believe there IS an external world to "further our understanding of" -- no objective truth or falsehood.

    So it's in some ways an attack on traditional scientific dogma. It's a "philosophy of science" article really, not strictly a science one.

  9. #9
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amalie Muller View Post
    I think one of the points of the article was that there is no reason to believe there IS an external world to "further our understanding of" -- no objective truth or falsehood.

    So it's in some ways an attack on traditional scientific dogma. It's a "philosophy of science" article really, not strictly a science one.
    Allright - that's an old debate then.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amalie Muller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Allright - that's an old debate then.
    Exactly.

    Good old fashioned epistemological scepticism with a quantum twist and social tug, standing on a springboard to post-modernism.

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