Sunday, May 28, 2017

Contributing to the debasement of truth

Errol Morris is a famous filmmaker who is still mad at the late Philosophy professor Thomas Kuhn (aka Professor Paradigm Shift) throwing as ashtray at him and kicking him out of Princeton. SciAm's John Horgan writes:
Kuhn did not tolerate criticism or even discussion of the ideas in Structure, according to Morris. Kuhn was “dogmatic, inflexible and abusive,” Morris says on the podcast. “I wouldn’t say it was just to me, I think it was to a number of people, but I think he was particularly abusive to me.” Morris blames Kuhn for promulgating a wrong-headed critique of scientific truth, and truth in general.

Morris calls Structure “bullshit,” “repellent,” “despicable.” His most dramatic claim is that Kuhn helped pave the way for Donald Trump’s presidency. In his “angrier moments,” Morris says, he blames Kuhn for contributing to “the debasement of science, and the debasement of truth.” He adds, “I see a line from Kuhn to Karl Rove and Kelly Ann Conway and Donald Trump.” ...

Morris has written a forthcoming book about Kuhn.
Morris thinks that Kuhn ruined the Philosophy of Science in the same way that I think that Einstein ruined Physics.

Kuhn was just a man with an opinion, of course, and could not have ruined anything if ppl ignored him. But he supplied the intellectual grounding for questioning scientific truth, and he inspired a generation of academic who take a more radical position, and reject scientific truth altogether.

As for Trump, the case can be made that he is the most honest President in 20 years. Much of the criticism of him is for openly and sincerely addressing the issues that face him, instead of using the evasive lawyerly doubletalk that other presidents and candidates have used in recent years.

Kuhn successfully convinced the academic world (outside the hard sciences) that even physics could not claim scientific truth because scientists are really just finding what is acceptable within the currently-popular paradigm, and as soon as a revolution or paradigm shift comes along, all that goes out the window.

Hillary Clinton just gave a commencement speech complaining:
As the history majors among you here today know all too well, when people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society.
I guess she is saying that Trump is dangerous because he sometimes attacks those who question him. She seems to think that assertions of truth should not be debated.

SciAm deserves its share of blame also. It used to be a reliable source of scientific knowledge. Now it has politicized stories, outlandish theories that can never be tested, and goofy physics that does not even make any sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment