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[Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder

Jenna and David,
I am coming from a Hegelian-Marxist perspective. Not a naive positivist perspective. Firstly, natural science (as opposed to human science) makes as its object (Arbeitsgegenstand) a material world taken to exist independently of human activity, which is knowable by means of human activity. It is a project like any other (one I have a commitment to) but it is not thereby a universal gateway to absolute truth. But science in general has broader scope and I think everyone on this list recognises that its claims are in general far less robust. But I have tried to be careful in how I have formulated a view here. I have said that something may count as objective so long as it can withstand sceptical critique, and I should add "within that community." The idea that asbestos is only poisonous from one or another point of view is a very poisonous point of view. It relies for its maintenance on very oppressive forms of inequality and domination. But it has fallen to critique. My observation is that it cannot recover from that critique. One might find that there is after all a cure for mesothelioma or that it was not asbestos but some component of asbestos which is the actual causal agent, but further developments of the idea which sublate the truth that asbestos kills people also retain that truth while negating it. That is always possible.

So the point is Jenna, that there is critique and critique. The postmodern idea of the relativism of truth (initially a "left-wing" standpoint) has been enthusiastically embraced by *conservative* people to argue that their view - which might be women are inferior and gays are evil or whatever - are equally valid to ideas such as the moral equality of all human beings or whatever.

The point is not to equate climate-denial and creationism with gender critique of science, but to figure out how to *avoid* that equation!

*Andy Blunden*

Jenna McWilliams wrote:
Imagine being a scientist who does their work from inside of, let's say, a queer and female-bodied container. You see the Scientific American article that Peter forwarded on and you think, well...this really isn't news--it's what lots of us non-mainstream (queer, female, nonwhite, disabled, genderqueer/transgender) researchers have known for what seems like forever. It's also well and widely discussed, as Miguel pointed out, in Science and Technology Studies. Obviously, you think. Obviously science is shaped by the identities of the people who engage it. Obviously people who work from within bodies that fall outside of the mainstream are sometimes attuned to phenomena that are overlooked by the more mainstream bodies and minds that dominate what we today call "science." Obviously the field needs to make room for those people and that research, too.

Then imagine jumping onto one of your favorite listservs and seeing the point of the Scientific American article equated with climate change deniers and anti-science creationists. It would be easy to feel disappointed, when encountering this on your favorite listserv--to see the work of those who aim to reshape science to account for multiple perspectives and experiences equated with opinions that are generally characterized as willful ignorance by those who do science. It would be easy to wish this conversation hadn't gone to that place.

But perhaps I'm misinterpreting the discussion. My queer and female body sometimes reacts particularly strongly to certain forms of discourse and certain forms of arguments that others might let pass.

Jenna (Jake) McWilliams
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University

Andy Blunden <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
Monday, September 22, 2014 9:38 AM
There is such a thing as objective truth, David. The claim that asbestos kills, once established, is extremely robust. And it is not just a statistical correlation, microscopic examination of lung tissue can prove it. I sort of agree with what you say, David, but relativism is also relative. The test of objectivity is the "robustness" of the claim, its capacity to withstand sceptical criticism. Up to a point, the asbestos companies were able to use the tactics - just like the tobacco industry and the climate deniers - such as putting contrary information, supported by those posing as scientists, into the public domain to create the illusion of a "debate", and buying off or intimidating those who spoke the truth. But in the end the case against them became so strong that the only way the truth that asbestos kills can now be undermined is by some kind of "higher truth" which sublates the irrefutable truth of medical science. Andy
*Andy Blunden*

David Preiss <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
Sunday, September 21, 2014 7:11 PM
Loved the WEIRD acronym. One of the best ironies I've seen in recent scientific writing.

Enviado desde mi iPhone

Rod Parker-Rees <mailto:R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk>
Sunday, September 21, 2014 3:57 PM
Great article, David - highlights the importance (at every level) of being aware of what others might find odd about us (secondary socialisation?).


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Preiss
Sent: 21 September 2014 18:31
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder

This article is revelant for this topic: http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/pdfs/WeirdPeople.pdf

Enviado desde mi iPhone


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David Preiss <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:31 AM
This article is revelant for this topic: http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/pdfs/WeirdPeople.pdf

Enviado desde mi iPhone

mike cole <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>
Sunday, September 21, 2014 10:42 AM
The book by Medin and Bang, "Who's asking" published by MIT is GREAT
reading. Seeing this in Scientific American is super.


On Sun, Sep 21, 2014 at 8:18 AM, David Preiss <daviddpreiss@gmail.com>