I mentioned that Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Error Morris is writing a book trashing his old philosophy of science professor, Mr. Paradigm shift. The book is now out: The Ashtray: (Or the Man Who Denied Reality).
The late Thomas Kuhn does seem to have convinced most of academia that there is no objective truth, or progress in science. So his fans will probably trash this book. I haven't seen the book, but Morris is right that Kuhn's central theses don't even make any sense. And yet he was probably the most widely praised philosopher of the last 50 years.
I think that it is fair to say he was the man who denied reality. More than anyone else, he has convinced intellectuals that there is no reality. I don't know whether he really threw an ashtray and kicked out a grad student.
Kuhn went astray by doing a detailed historical analysis of Ptolemaic and Copernican astronomy. He found that Copernican astronomy was not really any simpler or more accurate or having any compelling scientific advantage. And yet it was a revolution in the sense of the Earth revolving around the Sun. So he concluded that scientific revolutions don't have any advantages over the alternatives. Yeah, it was that stupid. It is amazing that so many people bought into his theory of science.
The truth is that science is but a small part of the problem. There is a larger inability to accept reality, even when it comes to the economy. A great example is IT. The revolution towards the paperless office has taken the business world by storm but it's absurd on its face. A company needs to hire developers and a whole IT department to deal with the technology and security issues. Then it needs to continually buy boatloads of constantly obsoleted hardware and software, along with off-site cloud services, backup services, electricity, generators and emergency off-site facility replication. Also, you need to continually train employees to use the systems. If that massive cost isn't enough, then note that technology is cited as one of the worst forms of distraction in the workplace. How on earth can people be spending all of this money and never ask where the benefit is beyond using a filing cabinet? Having a web presence is certainly competitive (even though it just shifts sales online) but what can be so revolutionary about putting a piece of paper onto a screen? It harder to annotate a digital page and there is still a need for a legacy scanning department to transform incoming forms and mail to the new system. Having a few copy machines or even air tubes would be tremendously cheaper. Will the bubble never end? People have never applied empirical research to the technology industry, along with many others. It’s a bubble sustained by perpetual solipsism. The latest research shows that productivity has been dead: Productivity Growth Is Slower Than You Think (Chad Syverson)ReplyDelete
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