This thread is hereby dedicated to the proliferation of dissent and condemnation of other people's beliefs. You are not allowed to post to this thread, unless you have something negative to say. You may say it about anything, but be forewarned, we might label your post unrelated, nonpertinent, and irrelevant and laugh at you. There has been entirely too much harmony and agreement amongst our ranks and this thread is here to put an end to that silliness.
I will initiate this experiment with three of my own criticisms.
1) I disagree with Dawkins interpretation of the following lines from Lamina by Keats:
Quote: ......Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophywill clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -- Unweave a rainbow . . .
2) I disagree with Dawkins overall evaluation of Postmodernism.
3) I disagree with the Pringle's company that their product in any way tastes good.
So, it is now your job to disagree with me, or find someone else to disagree with. I would much rather talk about the ideas you all might reject, but I understand that not everyone is as critical as myself. Edited by: Timothy Schoonover at: 5/19/03 7:19:24 pm
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Re: The Disagreement Thread
I started to disagree with Dawkins a bit in chapter 2, but as I continued reading he addressed my disagreement. He was commenting on how people think it's cool to be ignorant of the sciences. It simply isn't given nearly the importance by most people as is art, music, and entertainment. People would laugh at you if you didn't know who Michael Jordan, Mel Gibsom, or Britney Spears was. But how many among the general population know who Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, or Steven J. Gould is? I graduated from college and didn't have a clue.
He seemed to lament about how people have no interest in understanding science. He made an interesting point, that just because we're not all musicians doesn't mean we don't enjoy music. I'm completely tone deaf, yet I love to listen to music. Why is it that so many people who are not scientists are not even interested in understanding science?
I think that a lot of that has to do with how little emphasis is put on science in grade school. Children tend to be fascinated with science and technology. They are so curious and want to know how things work. But if that sense of wonder isn't inspired at an early age it may be completely lost. By the time kids hit their teenage years, perhaps even earlier, peer pressure and "popular subjects" often become more important than their own intellectual discovery. Teenagers join the herd.
Dawkins made the point that many university students seem to lack the desire to learn about science and he attributes that to the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the professors. I think that there may be some truth to that. Perhaps scientists and university professors could do more to encourage learning. But it seems to me that the problem goes back even further. The problem starts in childhood and in the schools. Get kids interested in science at an early age and I think they'll be much more likely to be interested in it as adults.
Tim I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment posted in this thread. I am unable to see how you can make such a claim as you have made here. what possible justification can you present for such an outlandish conclusion. Pringles are indeed good. I personally challenge you to present any evidence to the contrary.
I think one of the reasons people are often indifferent to or avoindant of science is because the scientific profession is often portrayed as an exclusive elite of intellectuals, and the scientist him or herself is imbued with a certain celebrity status to the layman. I am not exactly sure how or why this intellectual cult of personality is propagated, but I do think that it is a very real factor in how people come to regard science. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, modern universities exist more as a loose association of mutually independent fields of inquiry. There is no longer the synthesis of learning that was characteristic of the greek and medieval universities. As a result, many individuals go through their respective programs and become 'experts' or obtain a specialization in whatever category and depart ignorant of the vast breath of knowledge available to them. To be fair, we cannot really blame this on the structure of the modern university. The proliferation of knowledge and the diversity of subject matter makes any sort of practical synthesis nearly impossible. Only those with the requisite aptitude and that are committed to a lifetime of learning are able to achieve this ideal, and even then, only in part.
The Pringles company is well known for its use of animal excremant as a staple ingredient in their products. It is in fact what gives it its distinctive flavor. Additionally, the company has notorious financial links to not only Saddam Hussien and Osama Bin Laden, but also the Hitler Regime. They employ child labor in their 'factories' and are responsible for faking all of the moon landings. Their mission statement is, and I quote: "To subvert the lives of the decent and honest American worker by all means necessary, to extort each citizen of his or her money, and to exploit the Constitution." But worst of all, dear Wmmurrah, they maliciously torture hamsters. The bastards!
The fundamental contradiction in Dawkins' position is that, as he noted from the outset of The Selfish Gene , he formulated this as a "what if" rhetorical position - but then went on to treat it as if it was a fait accompli - as indeed it has subsequently come to be understood by the reading public. It is also generally understood as a rationalization of selfishness, mapping onto an increasing narcissism in the population, and indeed, could be argued to be responsible for it in some measure.
It seems that Dawkins is substituting the teleology of religion for the teleology of genes. How can genes have will? And if we are at the mercy of their will, then what explains childless people?
The fact that we have genes makes us lumbering robots? This is what he calls us in River out of Eden, and this is why he and Dennet have earned the reputation of ultra Darwinists, who go far beyond what Darwin himself ever intended for his theory.
It seems to me that Dawkin's position is inherently misanthropic, and that he creates straw men out of imaginary creationists to disguise this. Edited by: sqwark at: 6/8/03 6:56 pm
I agree with Dawkins' view of postmodernisn, but do not agree that he conceived of it himself. He was so threatened by another discipline claiming for itself the role of Criticism (as he admits), that he energetically sought to discredit them. Fortunately, this job had already been largely done by Socal and Bricmont, paving the way for Dawkins to do his own in less than three months, an inexplicably short period of time for anyone to produce a definitive critique of such an abstruse field far outside their own. He had help, and lots of it. Edited by: sqwark at: 6/8/03 6:55 pm
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Re: The Disagreement Thread
Many theories go beyond what their "creator" intended. Look at Einstein and Relativity!
I also don't remember seeing Dawkins claiming any of this is completely his own. Much as Hawking titles his book, "On the Shoulder of Giants", scientists recognize their work to be derivative and extensive of some previous scientist's.
As such, I disagree with the extent to which you criticize Dawkins, essentially by creating red herring arguments that don't in fact have anything to do with the content as it stands of Unweaving
Sqwark also posted his views in the To Hell with my Genes! thread. Hop over there if you want to jump in on the conversation.
On the subject of Postmodernism:
There has been a somewhat informative discussion of Postmodernism in the God is Dead thread in the Roundtable forum. I have not read Intellectual Imposters / Fashionable Nonsense yet, but perhaps I should expedite that goal. So many books, so little time..... At any rate, I think that I will officially suggest it in the Book Suggestion Forum. It would provide some lively and energetic conversation at least, unlike Unweaving.
However, I am continually perplexed at how so many people can point to Sokal and Bricmont as if they had thoroughly 'debunked' postmodernism once and for all. When I hear statements like this I wonder how much the person really knows about postmodernism. I mean, those persons who call themselves postmodernists cannot even delineate the boundaries of their own position, not because those boundaries are inherently ambiguous as it is construed, but because postmodernism is a term used to refer to a vast number of diverse categories. Many people are happily willing to throw out all of postmodernism when they cannot even define poststructuralism, culteral relativism, pragmatism, deconstruction, epistemic relativism, etc. To complicate matters, any given 'postmodernist' may or may not subscribe to any of the above categories. Moreover, these would-be critics often don't even know the arguments as to why postmodernists believe what they do. They simply reject one or two of the more prevalent conclusions, such as reality is unknowable or truth is relative, and laugh at the great absurdity of it all.
Postmodernism means different things to different people and what is being done with postmodernism today is different than the theories which gave rise to its name. Personally, I think that anyone who subscribes to anything that has ever been attributed to postmodernism is a looney, but its takes more "sloppy logic" as Sokal would say, to believe that postmodernism has been debunked than it does to understand that at the heart of it, postmodernists raise a valid critique many basic western assumptions.
I'm sure that there have been some amazingly ridiculous theories put forward in the name of postmodernism, just as there has been with Quantum Physics and Relativity, as Zach pointed out, but we are doing ourselves a great disservice by dismissing it as some sort of intellectual mysticism.
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