Troubling reports, on The Tank, that it may be “coming apart at the seams.”
9 May, 2007
Even if scientists aren’t. That’s the gist of an email response to a post Jonah Goldberg made.
“For all science cares, scientists could as well be numbered as named.”
In this imperfect world there is, in fact, too much importance accorded to personalities in science. But I think most scientists on some level would acknowledge that Mansfield’s remark describes an ideal to which we try to live up. Valid science is valid science no matter who studied it; crap is still crap no matter how famous the scientist peddling it (though fame can certainly hinder its identification).
Something in that strikes me as profoundly conservative, even though most academic scientists tend lopsidedly toward left-liberalism. Thus you get a self-proclaimed proud leftist like the physicist Alan Sokal, tired of the politicized notion that everything can be deconstructed, publishing a hoax article titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermaneutics of Quantum Gravity,” and commenting later, “anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. (I live on the twenty-first floor.)”
That paper can be found here. Pretty funny — and you don’t have to read it all to get the idea.
McClintock waxes wistful after the “debate”.
I do wish they’d stop calling these performances debates. Even calling them “joint press conferences” demeans press conferences. Maybe “dog and pony show”. Except I haven’t got it in for dogs nor ponies, either.
There are saltier terms, which shant appear on Buttle’s World today, which may be more accurate. Use your imagination.
In any case, I hope McClintock is right about the wave.