Tag: Post-Modernism

The eternal two cultures reprised

By Razib Khan | July 12, 2013 1:00 pm

A humanist

Over fifty years ago C. P. Snow wrote The Two Cultures. The details of the argument, and his more general worry about the state of his society, are less important than the fact that there has been a persistent and widening chasm in perception, and often in reality, between the two antipodes of intellectualism, the humanities and science. This has not always been so. The great evolutionary geneticist J. B. S. Haldane studied mathematics and “the Greats.” From what I can tell the latter is equivalent to classics. This combination is not unheard of, the eminent UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson has a similar educational background (he is also British, like Haldane). The string theorist Edward Witten received his first degree in history, only later shifting toward a focus on mathematics and science. But these are exceptions, not the rule.Most people who end in the sciences began in the sciences, and the majority do not have a liberal arts college undergraduate background.*

The converse situation is also true in regards to experience and familiarity. Most who are enmeshed in the humanities have only a cursory knowledge of science, and a general unfamiliarity with the culture of science (though more students switch out of science to non-science degree programs than the reverse). In most cases I find the ignorance of science by non-scientists sad rather than concerning, but in some instances it does lead to the ludicrous solipsism which was highlighted in books such as Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science. Though there is often a focus on fashionable Leftism in these critiques, it may be notable that the doyen of “Intelligent Design” has admitted a debt to Critical Theory. The scientist-turned-theologian Alister McGrath positively welcomes post-modernism in his The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World. The problem is not ignorance of science, as much as the dismissal and mischaracterization which that ignorance can give birth to in the right arrogant hands.

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The poverty of multiculturalist discourse

By Razib Khan | December 28, 2011 10:00 pm

As I’ve noted in this space before many of my “web friends” and readers are confused why I call myself “conservative.” This is actually an issue in “real life” as well, though I’m not going to get into that because I’m a believer in semi-separation of the worlds. I’ll be giving a full account of my political beliefs at the Moving Secularism Forward conference. A quick answer is that I’m very open to voting for Republicans, and have done so in the recent past. And, my lean toward Mitt Romney* in the current cycle is probably obvious to “close readers.” But I’m not a very “political person” in the final accounting when it comes to any given election. I didn’t have a very strong reaction to the “wave” elections of 2006, 2008, and 2010, except that I was hopeful but skeptical that Democrats would actually follow through on their anti-war rhetoric (I’m an isolationist on foreign policy).

Rather, my conservatism, or perhaps more accurately anti-Left-liberal stance, plays out on a broader philosophical and historical canvas. I reject the very terms of much of Left-liberal discourse in the United States. I use the term “discourse” because for some reason the academic term has replaced the more informal “discussion” in non-scholarly forums. And that’s part of the problem. I am thinking of this because of a post by Nandalal Rasiah at Brown Pundits commenting on a piece over at Slate, Responding to Egregious Attack on Female Protester, Egyptian Women Fight Back. Whether conventional or counter-intuitive Slate is a good gauge of “smart” Left-liberal non-academic public thought. Nandalal highlights this section:


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Offense in a globalized world

By Razib Khan | September 9, 2010 2:57 pm

In my post “The naked years” I used this image to illustrate the transition from furry Australopithecus, to hairless H. erectus, to the sartorially elaborated H. sapiens sapiens:

Do you find the image offensive? I obviously didn’t, I’m not an artist and was trying to visually communicate a scientific concept, not “provoke.” My usual procedure when looking for images is to go to Wikipedia and find material in the public domain. For the last image I just entered “top hat,” and yanked out the first picture which had a fully body shot, and inserted it into the image montage. As I was crediting I noticed that the image was of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln of Turkey rolled into one. And so the post went up….

But that’s not the end of the story.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Behavior Genetics, Culture

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