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Thursday, October 04, 2007

"As Paul Gross... and Norman Levitt... point out in their book, Higher Superstition, rejecting science also offers academic humanists the opportunity to settle old scores...

Gross and Levitt outline the implicit ranking of the various academic fields that prevailed until very recently. Academics in the 'hard' sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) ranked first because they produced reliable knowledge; historians, second, because they, too, generated factual knowledge, although often tainted by speculation; economists, third, because at least their analytical methods were rigorous, even if their assumptions and sometimes their raw data were not. Next to the bottom of the hierarchy were social scientists, because they indulged in impressionistic theories dressed up in statistical costumes, and last were those in literature, because they were subjective beyond redemption...

A particularly influential group to turn against science is a segment of the feminist movement... to them, science is inherently 'androcentric', because it was largely developed by men in patriarchal societies. It is only because of the power of men that the scientific method has become universally accepted as the way to gain knowledge about the natural world. To these feminists, the scientific method would be different if it had been developed by women... [many feminists] believe that the scientific method leaves out other, equally valid ways of knowing. The 1986 book Women's Ways of Knowing suggests that women find the scientific method uncongenial because it emphasizes logical, linear thinking at the expense of intuitive, multi-faceted thinking... The best reason for women not to turn against science is the same as it is for men: The scientific method works... (Many feminists who disdain science vote with their feet on this one, taking their children to be immunized against childhood diseases even though the immunizations were developed by white men using the scientific method)"

- Science on trial : the clash of medical evidence and the law in the breast implant case / Marcia Angell.
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