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I've read this and a few of the recent dust-ups I alas missed over the holidays, and was surprised to have not seen references to a few things which I would have expected, especially to Kuhn and in particular his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,  as well as CP Snow who wrote of and lectured on the gulf between the scientific and literary communities that I believe is exactly the cause of quite a lot of friction in these thread I've observed.

And he is absolutely correct. We get nowhere fast when the humanities talk past the sciences and vice versa.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 04:15:38 PM EST
redstar:
the gulf between the scientific and literary communities that I believe is exactly the cause of quite a lot of friction in these thread I've observed.

Interesting theory.

Migeru and others have attempted to explain the dust-ups on the basis of incompatible personality types and are planning a mass myers brigg test for the community, Frank Schnittger:

I'm thinking of writing a melodrama in 4 acts, with scrambling lieutenants and parts for introverts, Extroverts, Intuiters, sensors, thinkers, Feelers, perceivers,  and judges.  You guys can do the casting.

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/1/1/11415/37691

I'm wondering if we need to appoint an ET Psychotherapist....

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 04:41:57 PM EST
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Having grown up with one parent a militant atheist, and the other a new-age devotee, I've sort of been threading this needle my whole life.  From what I've seen, much of the hostility comes from a basic epistemological incompatibility that is poorly understood on both ends, and that it is the failure to understand this basic logical and evidential problem that leads to so much of the hostility.

In essence, both sides are talking past each other, but the problem is that they think it's possible to talk to each other, and get angry when they are misunderstood - when in fact, understanding is fundamentally impossible.

by Zwackus on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 06:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was trying to keep my account concise, so I left him out.  

Perhaps that was a mistake:  Once you accept the idea of scientific revolutions and paradigm shifts, you can see that science moves in discrete steps toward greater precision while generating a series of mutually incompatible theories of increasing calculational complexity.  (Sometimes techniques of calculation are borrowed over.)  The theories are referred to as truth, but of course they are not.  Truth is in the Mystic which is approached (numerically), modeled (conceptually), but never achieved.  

And this gets you to scientific mysticism.  

Unfortunately, this very sensible view is not much popular with scientists.  Even Kuhn himself is not very popular with scientists.  

I did not like C. P. Snow.  Still, he is right about one thing:  The literary people and the scientists do not get along easily, and get very territorial with little provocation.  Seeking of common understanding is more rare.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 at 12:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Truth is in the Mystic which is approached (numerically), modeled (conceptually), but never achieved.

As Gregory of Nyssa said: "He who progresses goes from beginning to beginning through never-ending beginnings" (my translation from French)

But he's a post-Socratic...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 at 07:22:08 AM EST
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