Did Thomas Kuhn help elect Donald Trump?
As discussed by John Horgan in the three Scientific American blog links listed below:
- Did Thomas Kuhn Help Elect Donald Trump? (May 25, 2017)
- Second Thoughts: Did Thomas Kuhn Help Elect Donald Trump? (June 1, 2017)
- Filmmaker Errol Morris Clarifies Stance on Kuhn and Trump (August 2, 2017)
- I didn't get a very favourable impression of either a Kuhn or his interlocutors from the articles. It seemed like they were generally talking past each other (the main issue being the definition of what is meant by "truth"). It also follows a vein of generalised "postmodernism bashing" where the term postmodernism is used extensively without any clear definitions and blamed for all kinds of societal ills. The irony is that this postmodernism bashing unites both people who would probably describe themselves as liberals/progressives with religious fundamentalists. Yes, postmodernism springing from deconstruction has spawned loads of woo, but it seems that the earning for one uncontested and uncontestable "Truth" (note capital T) unites scientism and religious fundamentalism. ScepticWombat (talk) 06:36, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
- Betteridge's law of headlines certainly applies. That being said, I thought it was all an interesting read. This wasn't meant as links to the type of discussion in which 'one side/arguer is clearly right', but more as an thought-provoking walk through a meaningful discussion (I.e., in which everyone present gets atleast something uniquely right).
- Principle of charity and all, I didn't take much issue with the 'sloppily defined' use of the word "postmodernism" in this context, for the simple reason that all arguers — both 'pro' and 'con' — were comfortably using that same word to make their contrary points, which they also made (using the word) in a consistent way. I.e., they understood what they themselves, as well as others, meant — as did I all of them. As such, no real definitional complaints remain.
- I also found it interesting to see that, one the one hand, basically everyone involved found the essentially proto-conspiratorial ("Aneris:ian") view of 'postmodernism' uselessly overblown, while on the other hand, all speakers concerned were in agreement that radicalism is inherently problem-ridden, that making the case for things like climate change denialism wrapped in the lingo of critique files safely under "crank", and that Kuhn had himself been misunderstood 'in all directions', as it were.
- On the latter point, I highly recommend the following interview with the man himself. I think it says a lot about all sorts of things. The only indefensible portion of that, I find, is Kuhn's apparent openness towards HIV denialism. As much as I personally like both Kuhn (the person) and his work — atleast in my own reading — I will fault him for that (and frankly, I expect no less of anyone here). Reverend Black Percy (talk) 14:29, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
- Heh, I actually considered linking to Betteridge, but decided against it as being a bit too snide and provocative, in exactly the style I found objectionable about both Kuhn and his interviewers in the article. All of them seem to be a bit too sure of themselves, with Kuhn being a bit too enamoured of his own theory (your HIV denial example particularly struck me as silly on Kuhn's part) and his interviewers presenting themselves a bit too much as the child in The Emperor's New Clothes ("See all these obvious flaws, nyah nyah nyah!").
- That said, I indeed share your concern with social constructivist radicalism, Rev. — as I put it during my student days, the law of gravity may be a social construction, but you'll still be hurt if you leap from a skyscraper. However, it also seems to have given rise to an opposite reaction, grounded in a simplistic "scientistic"/"scientismic" (as in scientism, not science) view of knowledge and philosophy pushed by the odd bedfellows I mentioned earlier. I think Existential Comics sums it up quite nicely. ScepticWombat (talk) 09:42, 12 August 2017 (UTC)