From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Thu Dec 15 2005 - 12:09:09 EST
Relevant article today on WSWS regarding postmodernist attacks on science. Refers to a recent speech by President of Royal Society. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/dec2005/scie-d15.shtml Some quotes that may be of interest below: Moreover, whilst it is true that social values are involved in the agenda of science, the choice of areas where money is invested into research, May opposes the postmodern view that "[t]aken to extremes...can lead to the view that scientific knowledge is no more than a 'social construct,' rather than statements about the external world, which in reality is (in Max Planck's words) 'independent of our senses [with its laws] not invented by humans.' " The anniversary address strongly defends an Enlightenment view against reaction. The Royal Society itself was born of the Enlightenment, and that remains the approach of science: "Everything we do embodies that spirit: a fact-based, questioning, analytic approach to understanding the world and humankind's place in it. Nullius in Verba." ["On the words of no one," or alternatively, "In the words of no master"—the Royal Society's motto.] And May cites a number of recent articles pointing to the danger of fundamentalist attacks on science, and is clearly concerned at the spread of such views and their impact on governments. Whilst he refrains from criticising the religious views of Prime Minister Tony Blair, he points to a remark of a senior adviser to Bush that was quoted in the New York Times (Oct. 17, 2004) who said that there is "what we call the reality-based community...[who] believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernable reality, [but] that's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."
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