Originally posted by midwinter
The other thing that's disturbing about this is that from its beginning, it seems to have been a debate designed to play out among non-specialists. And so when you arm non-specialists with a few talking points here and there about ring species and fruit flies and speciation, what's the opposition non-specialist side to do? In the end, all our gyrations don't mean squat, since I don't think any of us here are evolutionary biologists (unless you are, Adda?) But it all smacks of grass-rootsyness, doesn't it? And grassrootsy things are good and wholesome, we all know.
One of my other points, though, is that any time you advance a theory like this that so brazenly attempts not just to take on an institution (science) but to remake the entire field on which that institution rests, you run the risk that you will undermine your own sure footing. I just don't see how this could play out in any other way, since on the one hand it attempts to redefine epistemology and on the other it attempts to render God a kind of scientific phenomenonand that, that's the end of God. [/B]
Right, and that's my major beef with a broad spectrum of right wing initiatives as of late: it's not the disinformation, which, after all, can always be countered by better information and the evidence to back it up; it's the coordinated, sustained attack of the mechanisms of information itself.
It's as if in some conservative think tank somewhere they ran the numbers and realized that reality and conservative precepts couldn't cohabitate, so instead of modifying their precepts they set out to undermine reality.
And as I believe you have pointed out, it's led to this highly unnerving, inverse recapitulation of deconstructionist thinking, with, I suppose, God instead of Marx serving as the back-stop.
And, predictably, coming up against the same dilemma: the solvent is too powerful and dissolves the container.
The big difference, as you point out, is that deconstruction was always pitched at an educated audience and relied on subtle (if not outright baffling) analysis of the construction of meaning and so forth (how's that for a pregnant elision?), whereas the conservative war on reality relies on the ignorance of its target audience regarding basic precepts of scientific method, logic, cause and effect, etc.
Which sort of gives away the game. Cynically exploiting the credulous is rather a different undertaking than unmasking the workings of power. But I wonder if the expedient types that have set this thing in motion even realize the damage that they are doing, and how difficult it is, once you "discredit" rationality, to get everyone back on the same page?
I mean, it's not like we've ever been a nation of scholars, and the proud achievements of the enlightenment, so central to the men who founded this country, have, I think, for most Americans, always been more a matter of 'implicit tone" rather than the product of careful thought or education. The sense that there really is such a thing as objective truth and that the body politic is better served at least trying to cleave to same than not.
And now these same Americans are more or less being explicitly told that no, all that sorting through the evidence jazz was just a liberal trick by People Not Like You who are trying to Cloud Your Minds with their fancy university talk.
Reality is what flatters your local prejudices. It's whatever works for the argument at hand. It's what we say it is. It lies somewhere between "might makes right" and "because God said so".
Is that a genie that goes back into the bottle? Do some of you who are arguing for this kind of provisional, political definition of truth, whether you know it or not, really want to live in a country where it doesn't?