RE: an article on the creationist's plea "teach the controversy"

From: Judy Diamondstone (
Date: Wed Oct 13 2004 - 16:29:16 PDT

AH! An answering word..

    I feel humanized. :)

Steve, thanks for the below. I would be happier to call the curricular
concerns beyond 'science-itself' "humanism" than to call those concerns
"religion" -- but I would not be completely happy with that. "Humanism"
lends itself to a kind of hubris. We need something more, beyond concern for
our own survival as a species.... I think there is more to pull from the
Bateson quotes, and I promise to work on it.

Regarding your note to Phillip, I used Eva's analysis of xmca discussions
over time to frame my own analysis of an xmca thread, in a presentation at
the University of New Mexico, "Reflexivity and Its Limits," where I showed,
in part, how the authors of messages perceived to be 'dominant/ dominating'
subscribed to "negative politeness" (Brown & Levinson), a kind of "live &
let live" attitude -- an ethic that might be reduced to: "Avoid Flaming."
The authors of messages that expressed hesitation, tentativeness, fear,
even, of venturing into the frey (most of them graduate students, most of
them female) appreciated the alternative, or "positive politeness" --
explicit take-up / recognition of all contributions. Regarding the notion of
"community" here -- the "meta" returns, ineluctably.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Steve Gabosch []
  Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 3:48 PM
  Subject: RE: an article on the creationist's plea "teach the controversy"

  Hi Judy,

  Sorry for ignoring you! I'm glad Phillip engaged you on Bateson. I
personally need more education about Bateson's general approach to be
helpful in a discussion of his ideas. I appreciated your quotes and the
encouragement to study him in your post a few days ago.

  As for science teaching and the caveat you raise below - the problem of
ethics - you make a vital point. Can science really be taught without
ethical considerations, without taking into account what is good for
society? I agree with you - it can't - at least, not very well, not in a
relevant and honest way. Science can be taught without confusing it with
religion, but it cannot be taught without at least implying, if not
explicitly stating, what social and ethical choices are being made in any
science-related activity. I agree that the general discussion of science
needs to be integrated together in a general discussion about society and
the projects facing humanity.

  Posing it this way creates some automatic controversy, of course, and this
is where students - and teachers - (not to mention scientists and the
citizenry in general) - will have to develop their critical thinking to the
extent they engage in this kind of discussion. For if different ethical
considerations imply different kinds of scientific enterprises, theories,
technologies, etc., then people must find ways to discuss science in terms
of moral and social issues. What are the consequences of employing
different technologies? What are the moral and ethical implications of
these results? Who benefits, who loses from different approaches? What are
social bases of possible choices and conflicting ideas in science? Should
decisions about science and technology be based on, say, property rights -
or human rights? Etc.

  To answer your question, if not religion - what? - I would say: humanism.

  ~ Steve

  At 09:41 AM 10/13/2004 -0400, you wrote:

    Well, Steve, you addressed your harangue to Michael, but I will jump in
regardless. I agree with you, with one caveat, which I tried to introduce
previously. Science does not answer questions of what is good for us.
Scientists funded by pharmaceutical & oil & etc. companies or the defense
department use science to water down environmental and consumer protection
regulations. Science is not, then, a good-in-itself, a responsible guide to
practice -- ought we shuttle questions of 'the good' to different
disciplines? I would argue that we need to integrate the varied life
projects that we as cultural-historical beings face. I am not arguing for
religion in the schools, but for rigorous attention to questions of
'whole-ness' -- ethics. The ethics of how we deal with difference seems
implicated here, as well. Not religion, but what?

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