In a philosophically unsophisticated yet historically astute article, Physics Today examines today's demonizaiton of climate science in light of past controversies, including especially the transition from geocentrism to heliocentrism. From the article,
It is jarring to ponder the scene of a colleague from the 17th century refusing to look into a telescope—a level of aversion to inconvenient facts, admittedly not common, that seems incredible. Yet modern counterparts can perhaps be found in those who vilify the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change without apparently ever having examined its reports, or who repeat claims—such as global warming having stopped in 1998—that can be trivially falsified by looking at the data. A lesser form of denial can be found in the eager adoption of Copernicus’s calculations by those rejecting his premises; a modern parallel is the use of global atmosphere model simulations by weather forecasters who reject the climatic implications of the physical relationships on which the models are based. (The UK Met Office, whose model development effort is probably the largest in the world, now uses essentially identical atmosphere models for weather and climate prediction.)
Despite the clear historical precedents... scientists and environmentalists alike appear to have been unprepared for the antiscience backlash now under way. A first step toward better public communication of science, and the reason we need it, may lie in recognizing why the backlash happens: the frailty of human reason and supremacy of emotional concerns that we humans all share but do not always acknowledge. That step could be as important in the classroom as when engaging the public and policymakers more widely. Tempering confidence with a dose of humility never hurts either, as best articulated by Einstein himself: "All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet it is the most precious thing we have."
Courtesy Boing Boing, psychologist Bruce Levine makes the case that many of today's 'mental illnesses'--including such favorites of adolescent psychology as oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder--simply reflect the conformist and compliant authority-worshiping tendencies of the psychological and psychiatric communities. From Levine's essay,
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.
In preparation for the Day of Remembrance, a practice session on pronunciation will be held 3/28 from 6 to 8 p.m. in UC-106B.
In preparation for the Day of Remembrance, a practice session on pronunciation will be held 3/27 from 6 to 8 p.m. in UC-324.
From the 2012 TED Talks, Susan Cain takes our extrovert-philic culture to task for missing the importance of the quietly contemplative introvert.
Professor Richard Dawkins (biology), Sir Anthony Kenny (philosophy, and the Archbishop of Canterbury discuss the nature of human beings and their ultimate origins before an audience in the Sheldonian Theatre in this video.
The NY Times has a piece by Jon Gertner (adapted from his forthcoming "The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation") about the phenomenal accomplishments, both applied and theoretical, of Bell Labs. From the article,
Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.
Come and join the philosophy club in S&T 107 for the screening of
The Story of 1!
By Monty Python's very own
This is a fun film about the history of mathematics, everyone is welcome and we'll have some nifty baked goods around too
Where: S&T 107
When: Wednesday March 7th @7:30
What: Movie, the story of one