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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  January 2009

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE January 2009

Subject:

Re: "Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated"by Alfie Kohn (moderating ad-hominem attacks)

From:

mart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 8 Jan 2009 08:21:18 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (532 lines)

i'd say science is what is found using the scientific method which is a) objective (more than 1 person observing, or equivalently, more than one miracle) and b) repetition (ie a consistant, predicatable time series of many-bodied miracles).  generally, there is also c) categorization (or theory), to 'reduce the dimensionality' of the angels, stars or whatever miracles are observed. 'theory' (which includes math) actually may also be scientific because people have to agree on axioms/proofs/derivations (eg is the dimension of the continuum (number of real numbers or points between 0 and 1) aleph1, 2 or...).  the wikipedia aritcle on science goes throught this stuff. 

whether anything (knowledge) is outside the scientific method is unknown i think.  (except when its 'personal' and hence subjective). the book 'science in the crib' suggests babies are scientists actually (with peer review by caregivers---blind leading blind).  optimal foraging theory in biology suggests more or less the same thing for animlas, with a 'utilitarian' focus.  (hence science is inherintly value laden, being 'for' use by whatever entity is applying it (babies, grant seekers, expanding ideal gases or universes, etc.)    it seems everything (or 99%) can be understood or phrased this way; the remaining 1% may be like the supposed 'curled up' dimnesions in superstring theory; for different observers the relative singificance may be quite distinct.   (and maybe they are dual, so you can "turn tables" or 'upset the setup').
    


--- On Tue, 1/6/09, Mandi Smallhorne <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: Mandi Smallhorne <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: "Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated"by Alfie Kohn (moderating ad-hominem attacks)
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 2:20 AM
> I'd like to hear people's thoughts on what the word
> 'science' embraces, for
> the purposes of this list.
> "The effort to discover, and increase human
> understanding of how the
> physical world works"? 
> "The observation, identification, description,
> experimental investigation,
> and theoretical explanation of phenomena"?
> The latter would include the social and behavioural
> sciences alongside the
> natural sciences.
> Mandi
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Science for the People Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> mart
> Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 7:43 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: "Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated"by
> Alfie Kohn (moderating
> ad-hominem attacks)
> 
> i am not too convinced that an ad hoc list of misuses of
> science against the
> people, and uses for the people, assuming there is any
> consensus on what
> these are, is all that useful or effective.   there are
> examples (or
> anecdotes) everywhere; some of it just leads to a new
> industry.  (there have
> been several books in the last 5 or 10 years from within
> academia on
> corporate control of science, etc.  you can probably get a
> phd in it.   J P
> Rushton even gets published in Royal society not long ago. 
> )    
> 
> 
> --- On Mon, 1/5/09, Mandi Smallhorne
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > From: Mandi Smallhorne <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: "Why Self-Discipline Is
> Overrated"by Alfie Kohn (moderating
> ad-hominem attacks)
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Date: Monday, January 5, 2009, 2:37 AM
> > I agree with the comments below. Herb's ideas are
> great,
> > except for the
> > restriction - I find too much that is posted useful to
> > accept such stringent
> > restriction, and I am happy to delete the stuff I
> don't
> > want. Of all that he
> > said, the most urgent to my mind are essentially:
> > 
> > 1. The maturity on the part of members not to use, or
> to
> > ignore red-button
> > words and comments which are obviously intended to
> provoke;
> > 
> > 2. The absence of purely political posts - there are
> other
> > fora for them.
> > 
> > Mandi
> > 
> >  
> > 
> >  
> > 
> >   _____  
> > 
> > From: Science for the People Discussion List
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> Of
> > Michael H
> > Goldhaber
> > Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 4:25 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: "Why Self-Discipline Is
> Overrated"by
> > Alfie Kohn (moderating
> > ad-hominem attacks)
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > Thanks, Herb for an excellent concept for the list. I
> think
> > some of Michael
> > Balter's caveats are well-taken, but let us not
> stray
> > too far from the
> > emphasis  on science and technology one way or the
> other. 
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > Best,
> > 
> > Michael
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > On Jan 4, 2009, at 1:59 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > This all sounds reasonable, except for this one
> sentence:
> > 
> > "Let the list serve be exclusively a forum for
> > exposing the misuse of
> > science and for revealing examples of the use of
> science on
> > behalf of
> > people."
> > 
> > This is way too restrictive, and would eliminate many
> of
> > the useful posts on
> > this list, which provide information and background on
> what
> > scientists are
> > doing, the social and political context for science,
> > science policy, and the
> > like, often from mainstream sources. It would also be
> > impossible for us to
> > agree on which posts fit these criteria and which
> > don't. List members should
> > be free to post material that they in good faith
> believe is
> > relevant or of
> > interest, even if it only indirectly relates to the
> central
> > mission of the
> > list. The more we know about what is going on in the
> > scientific and
> > technological worlds, the better equipped we are to
> make a
> > difference should
> > we have the opportunity to do so.
> > 
> > I would also add that the list should continue to be a
> > place where vigorous
> > debate can take place, but that personal attacks
> (rather
> > than political
> > disagreements) should be barred. As the target of the
> great
> > majority of
> > PERSONAL attacks on this list over the past few years,
> due
> > primarily to the
> > political positions I take (from George Salzman,
> Jonathan
> > Campbell, Louis
> > Proyect, Louis Godena, "Michael Butter," et
> al.,
> > who have branded me
> > everything from a "liberal" to a paid tool
> of the
> > ruling class to a "racist
> > hypocrite" and "Zionist") I would be
> very
> > happy if they would stop, and I
> > have pledged to our moderator that I will no longer
> respond
> > in kind as long
> > as they are dealt with. There has been a tendency for
> our
> > moderator to be
> > silent when a personal attack is made and to only step
> in
> > when it is
> > responded to in kind, which raises the issue of
> > evenhandedness.
> > 
> > MB
> > 
> > On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 5:52 AM, herb fox
> > <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > 
> > Below is my conception of what a civil, broad,
> friendly
> > Science-for-the-People list should be.
> > 
> > 1.   The list should be a free association of
> like-minded
> > persons with a
> > common interest in what is broadly expressed by the
> slogan
> > "Science for the
> > People."  This requires a certain amount of self
> > moderation, respect for
> > others, tolerance for differing political
> perspectives, and
> > an awareness
> > that an excessively contentious atmosphere makes the
> list
> > unattractive to
> > those whom we would like to reach.
> > 
> > 2.   It is reasonable and necessary that there be
> > provocative list postings.
> > The Science-for-the-People perspective, especially the
> > assertion that
> > science is not intrinsically neutral, is provocative. 
> > Although  provocative
> > ideas in and about science are appropriate, deliberate
> > attempts to provoke a
> > response from someone, or some few, that one has an
> animus
> > toward (for
> > whatever reason.) is nether appropriate nor ethical
> and
> > will eventually
> > destroy the usefulness of the list.
> > 
> > 3.   Continuing to post off-content material because
> others
> > do or making
> > personal attacks because one has been personally
> attacked
> > are evidence of a
> > lack of self-discipline.  Everyone should assume
> > responsibility for his or
> > her own posting behavior irrespective of the behavior
> of
> > others.  That also
> > enables the moderator to recognize and isolate
> destructive
> > behavior.
> > 
> > 4.   Let the list serve be exclusively a forum for
> exposing
> > the misuse of
> > science and for revealing examples of the use of
> science on
> > behalf of
> > people.  Those on the list who have more completely
> > developed and inclusive
> > political visions and critiques should feel free to
> relate
> > the critique of
> > the misuse of science to their larger critiques; but a
> > critique of
> > capitalism that makes no reference to science does not
> > belong on this list.
> > Neither do critiques of various contemporary socialist
> > experiments belong on
> > this list unless they appear in reference to
> scientific
> > activities in those
> > countries. 
> > 5.   The list should also offer opportunity for the
> > non-scientist, or
> > scientist, to raise questions and receive measured
> civil
> > responses.  A list
> > consisting of a sequence of highly contentious remarks
> > infused with personal
> > insults does not invite such questions.
> > 
> > The origin of the conceptions stated above is the
> original
> > conception of
> > Science for the People.  It was radical in its
> critique and
> > in its actions;
> > but it welcomed all who shared its critique of the
> > contemporary practice of
> > science from liberals to communists and anarchists.
> > 
> > herb
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Michael Balter wrote:
> > 
> > By the way, I would assume according to Herb's
> logic
> > that it is okay to post
> > something "provocative" on this list as long
> as
> > one does not announce in
> > advance that it is being posted because it is
> provocative.
> > That is easily
> > done. And once done, then list members have to decide
> > whether posts that
> > some of them consider "provocative" should
> be
> > banned. Fortunately, that has
> > not been the practice so far.
> > 
> > MB
> > 
> > On Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 9:53 AM, Michael Balter
> > <[log in to unmask]
> > <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> > 
> >    I think it would be fine to limit posts to
> > science-related issues,
> >    as long as that rule were not applied
> hypocritically. In
> > general
> >    on this list, so-called "off topic" posts
> are
> > only objected to
> >    when someone disagrees with their content (thus we
> see
> > little or
> >    no objection to many of Mitchel's off-topic
> posts
> > about his radio
> >    program, etc.) There is also the matter of defining
> what
> > is off
> >    topic and what is not, which not everyone here will
> > agree on.
> > 
> >    I also think that posting something to deliberately
> > provoke list
> >    members into thinking differently or considering a
> > different way
> >    of looking at things should be just fine. To some
> > people, anything
> >    they disagree with is considered a provocation, and
> that
> > can't
> >    possibly be the criterion on a serious list of
> scholars.
> > 
> >    MB
> > 
> > 
> >    n Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 7:36 AM, herb fox
> > <[log in to unmask]
> > 
> >    <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> > 
> >        Interesting Carrol.  Here i am on vacation far
> from
> > my
> >        library, but still willing to break this down a
> bit
> > w/out
> >        reference. The concerns here are two: the
> validity
> > of an
> >        argument and the civility of the discourse. 
> What, i
> > believe
> >        is inappropriate, given that we are supposed to
> be
> > rational
> >        scientists is to dismiss arguments not by
> > systematically
> >        countering the proposition but by (1) not
> addressing
> > it at all
> >        by attacking the arguer, (2) discrediting the
> arguer
> > by
> >        reference to the arguer's stand on other
> issues
> > or even
> >        similar issues, or (3) defaming the arguer. 
> > I'll leave it to
> >        you to construct the appropriate syllogisms. 
> > Fallacy #2 is
> >        quite common on this list, oftentimes from
> persons
> > with whose
> >        stand i agree.  All 3 however are fallacious in
> that
> > they do
> >        not attempt to refute the argument.  #3 is
> > unambiguously
> >        uncivil. #1 is often uncivil.  It is not
> fallacious
> > to call
> >        into question the validity of data from a
> proven
> > questionable
> >        source of data; but that cannot be the basis
> for
> > resolving a
> >        question unless the critic has contrary
> supportable
> > data.  If
> >        i recall correctly countering an argument by
> calling
> > into
> >        question the truthfulness or reliability of the
> > arguer is
> >        called "poisoning the well."
> > 
> >        It is unreasonable to ask any moderator to
> subject
> > every
> >        submission to the rigors of proper logic.  It
> is,
> > however,
> >        reasonable to hold submitters to a standard of
> > civility.  That
> >        includes restraining those whose submission is
> > entirely a
> >        personal attack or who deliberately announce
> their
> > role to be
> >        a provocateur.  That a post of a few weeks ago
> > referred to the
> >        manner in which Venezuelan police handled a
> pair of
> > Human
> >        Rights investigators is inappropriate for this
> list
> > to begin
> >        with, not being relevant to Science and its
> > relationship to
> >        People, is not that unusual.  But that it was
> openly
> > described
> >        by its submitter as an attempt to provoke a
> response
> > from
> >        those with whom the submitter disagreed is
> deeply
> > offensive
> >        and destructive of the integrity of the list. 
> It
> > would be
> >        wonderful if this list became a forum for
> addressing
> > the
> >        wholesale misuse of science and technology
> today
> > where we
> >        could send persons who are concerned with the
> issue,
> > and where
> >        a reasonably sensitive and non aggressive
> person
> > would feel
> >        comfortable.
> > 
> >        herb
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> >    --    ******************************************
> >    Michael Balter
> >    Contributing Correspondent, Science
> >    Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> >    Boston University
> > 
> >    Email:           [log in to unmask]
> > 
> >    <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> > 
> >    Website:       michaelbalter.com
> > <http://michaelbalter.com>
> > 
> > 
> > 
> >    Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
> > 
> >    <http://michael-balter.blogspot.com>
> > 
> > 
> >    ******************************************
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > ******************************************
> > Michael Balter
> > Contributing Correspondent, Science
> > Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> > Boston University
> > 
> > Email:           [log in to unmask]
> > <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> > 
> > Website:       michaelbalter.com
> > <http://michaelbalter.com>
> > Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
> > <http://michael-balter.blogspot.com>
> > ******************************************
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > ******************************************
> > Michael Balter
> > Contributing Correspondent, Science
> > Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> > Boston University
> > 
> > Email:           [log in to unmask]
> > 
> > Website:       michaelbalter.com
> > Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
> > ******************************************


      

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