Uncommon Sense

April 1, 2023

Modernism and Postmodernism

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Reason,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:03 pm
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I was reading a post about this topic and, being a philosophy geek, I was drawn to the two “philosophies.” Here are two quotes from that article:

Modernism is the assumption that the world is clearly-defined and measurable. There are facts that exist independently of any of us. Gravity will always be gravity. Two plus two will always be four.

Postmodernism, on the other hand, believes that certainty is impossible. No matter how many times you observe something, you can never know if it’s entirely true, mostly because the observer is always fallible.

Both of these “beliefs” are bogus and not at all steeped in reality. I seem to be writing more and more about our mistaking ideas about reality. Modernism is a hangover from the nineteen century leading into the twentieth. Over the preceding three or four centuries modern science birthed an explosion of knowledge and technology never seen before. There seemed to be nothing that science could not learn. Again, this is an absolute and if you haven’t heard me say it before but “there are no absolutes in nature.” (Wow, quoting myself; could hubris be far away!)

Postmodernism is an overcorrection, typical in human discourse. We go overboard in one direction, then we come back and go overboard in the opposite direction. The applicable aphorism is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Absolute certainty is possible, but ordinary certainty? Yep, we can do that.

Scientists are very acutely aware of their limitations. All measurements are subject to error, for example. Now, we don’t mean “error” in the sense of mistakes. Mistakes are things done incorrectly that can be corrected. Measurement error is inherent in the measuring process and translates as “measurement uncertainty.” All measurements are listed as something like “128 cm ± 0.5 cm.” By doing his we, using standard procedures, set rough upper and lower limits upon our measurements. But those are process limits. The actual value may be outside of those limits because of minute flaws in procedure or in instruments. (By actual value I mean a better measurement with a smaller measurement error.)

So, the scientific enthusiasm of modernists is misplaced to some extent. The over-reaction of postmodernists, claiming that all measurements are flawed because “because the observer is always fallible,” misses the mark entirely. It is not the fallibility of the observer that is a cause of weak measurements, although that is always involved, but the inherent nature of Nature. There are no perfect measurements. There never will be. And whether the researcher is fallible or not isn’t the issue.

Scientists are cognizant of their own fallibility. We know this because of the keystone of the scientific method, which is left out of all grade school discussions of “the method.” Scientists are in fact required to publish their work and in detail. They must include a description of the experiments conducted, listing instruments and equipment. All procedures must be listed so that another scientist could repeat the same experiment to see if the same results are acquired. So, if one scientist is fallible, what about ten? If you need a case study, go back and look at the brouhaha surrounding the announcement that “cold fusion” had been achieved (in 1989 a claim was made that nuclear fusion had occurred at room temperature — so “cold” fusion compared to the extremely high temperatures the process was thought to require). A major thrust from the scientific community centered on the announcement coming in a news conference and not in a peer-reviewed journal article. It took months for their procedures to be made available (under the guise of possible patentable processes worth billions of dollars) and a horde of scientists tried to reproduce their findings . . . and failed. People were still trying for years after the initial announcement and international meetings were had for researchers into the topic and the net result was <cricket, cricket>. Results that only one scientist or one team of scientist can get are not reliable and are rejected. Experiments should be repeatable, since the initial researchers repeat their own trials to make sure of that and then others are invited to join in if the doubt the validity of the findings.

So, Modernism and Postmodernism are not worth studying except as indications of how flawed our thinking is. Sure enthusiasm for science exploded in the nineteenth century, and you can see some of the rubble from that explosion in the form of bogus medical devices, strange scientific beliefs held by citizens, etc. But was that a philosophy? Who declares that something is a philosophy? (I certainly hope it isn’t philosophers—and I am a philosophy buff, as you know.) Since all measurements contain measurement error and we hope no mistakes, at least the possibility of fact checking exists. Subjects like philosophy do not have a final arbiter, like the natural sciences do in nature itself, and well Bill Clinton said it best “Mistakes were made.”

He Who Is First Into Print Wins!

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:59 am
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This maxim holds a kernel of truth. The first person into print creates a weaker position for his opponent, that of the criticizer, but also being in print means you leave a record for future folks to be able to see. (Donald Trump is a master of this calling his opponents all kinds of names and making baseless charges which reporters then ask the people targeted to respond to. Most of Trump’s targets make the mistake of responding to the claim/charge; they would be better off asking “Why would you take his word for anything? He is a known liar. Come back when you have some evidence backing up his ridiculous claim and then I will respond to your question.”)

As a prime example of being in print means you leave a record for future folks to be able to see, take the ancient Greeks. They are credited for having invented Western Civilization: they invented science, medicine, philosophy, etc. This is, of course, bullshit. The Greeks, like every other civilization before and since built upon what came before. (In fact they made that claim themselves but racist Europeans of the nineteenth century couldn’t abide with Egyptians and Indians and Chinese being the sources of such things because well, they were mongrel races, some were even Black!)

The ancient Greeks had an advantage though, the written Greek language. That language became the written language of much of the Mediterranean area, whether you spoke Greek or not (written Greek was the lingua franca). For example, much of the Christian New Testament, written by Jews and people who spoke Aramaic, was written in Greek.

This didn’t guarantee your ideas would survive, but it sure helped. We have enough references to lost manuscripts to back up this contention, and the works of Aristotle, one of the finest Greek scientists, were almost lost, but a student of Aristotle had written down most of his ideas and those scrolls were later unearthed and Aristotle took his place in the annals of science. (Whew, that was close.) Were it not for those notes, Aristotle would be a footnote in history at best.

But the people who left no written records are not as well represented. Take for example the wonders of vaccinations. If you look up who invented the idea your source will likely say it was Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796. This, of course, isn’t true. Vaccinations were being done in Africa centuries earlier than that. We have advertisements for slaves who were vaccinated, making them more valuable, earlier than that. But Jenner had a better PR agent apparently. Oh, and he was white, of course.

Greek philosophers did not invent philosophy. Greek astronomers did not invent astronomy. Mariners were navigating by the stars for centuries before Greece existed. In Polynesia, many hundreds of stars were given names before any white astronomers showed up. Similarly medicines were known and used long before the Greeks invented “medicine.” Pharmaceutical companies are still trolling the knowledge stores of “primitive peoples” for new drugs to exploit.

Getting into print first had many, many advantages, but if you are wise, you should ask yourself: from where did they get their knowledge to begin with?

March 30, 2023

The Red State-Blue State Divorce Settlement

Ever since Marge Green (R-Georgia) said it was time for a divorce between the red states and the blues states we haven’t heard much from her about that topic. Maybe the divorce settlement talks weren’t going her way.

One of the key facts (Yes, Repubs, there are these things called facts; look up the term.) was that by and large the red states pay more in taxes than they get back from the Federal government in subsidies, services, etc.

A case in point: On a 7-4 party-line vote, a Florida Republican-dominated State Senate panel Monday rejected outright expansion of Medicaid under so-called Obamacare. So, instead of Floridians getting some of their federal taxes back, they get a dose of Republican ideology instead.

Of course, the Repubs offered an alternative, consisting of federal subsidies for private health insurance, so some of the Republican party donors can make a buck off of them. And, also of course, only 500,000 Floridians would get this deal instead of the 1,100,000 Floridians getting healthcare through a Medicare expansion. But then, all of this is to support poor people and we know what Republicans think of poor people, so I guess their attitude is “Fuck’em, they’re just the poor and they usually don’t vote anyway.”

March 28, 2023

Another Mass Shooting . . .

Three adults and three children died as the result of a mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. The school was a private Christian school and the shooter, unusually, was a woman.

So as ye sew, so shall ye reap. The woman was armed with two assault-style rifles, probably AR-15s, the preferred assault weapon of Christian fundamentalists. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the woman was a member of the church sponsoring the school.

Maybe support for unfettered gun ownership will begin to sag in these circles, now that problems with such guns have come home to roost.

Wuhan, Wuhan, the Story Continues

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:24 am
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The question is: was the Corona Virus responsible for the pandemic a natural thing or was it a virus being studied by Chinese scientists and then accidentally released from a lab?

The second supposition is linked to the conjecture “the Chinese did it on purpose.” To me this latter conjecture is idiocy and only to be expected from people who absolutely, positively need someone to blame for anything that goes wrong.

An article in The Guardian describes one bizarre aspect of this investigation. A French scientist found DNA evidence that had been posted online by a team of Chinese scientists. These came from swabs taken from the now notorious market that peddled exotic meats. These were taken after the outbreak. The French scientist contacted the Chinese scientists and asked for permission to analyze the raw data and receive permission. Then they published preliminary findings . . . and all Hell broke loose. From the same The Guardian article:

“Since the publication, Débarre has been set upon by online mobs and received threats to her safety. ‘Last night, I was crying over the horrible things I’m reading about myself on social media,’ she says.

“Most concerning has been a threat by a stranger who claims to know where Débarre lives. But she is also stung by the accusations that she, as a scientist, might be disloyal to the truth. ‘It’s horrible to have people discuss the fact you may be lying, when you’re not lying,’ she says. ‘When you have a profession in which being truthful is essential.’”

I have little to say about the brouhaha but something to say about scientific sensibilities. Why would a serious scientist get hurt feelings, to the point of tears, about mean things said about her on social media? Why would she be consulting social media at all? Obviously a death threat should be reported to the authorities, but she wouldn’t know whether that was serious or some 11-year old goofing around.

Also, why would people “discussing the fact you may be lying” upset you when these are people who do not know you, nor are they fully acquainted with your field. I could understand if it were colleagues making these claims, or worse, supervisors, but strangers? What do they know and why should she care?

The Internet has become a cesspool of negativity in which people say mean things for sport. It is a wonder people take things stated here seriously.

March 27, 2023

The Tower of Babylon and Biblical Sucking Up

I watched a documentary (from 2019 I believe) about the Tower of Babylon last night. The Bible was mentioned on and on, even though other records, records more reliable, exist. As it turns out the tower in question seems to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar, a ziggurat to be specific. As the narrator droned on addressing various archeologists trying to “research” the topic, the Bible was mentioned quite often. I put research in quotes because the research mentioned had already been done, the on screen archeologists were just pretend researching for TV.

So, the tower was built. The documentary went into how it was constructed, that they had to use fired mud bricks because sun-dried mud bricks were not up to the task. An engineer calculated that a tower constructed as described (in the Bible!) could be as tall as 300 ft. There is no evidence that it was 300 feet tall, but it was referred to as the 300-ft tower from that point onward. (This is an ongoing problem with this entire series of documentaries—assumptions become facts in the mouth of the narrator.) Details of the building process were provided from the Bible! Look, there was an entire group of Israelites in Babylon at the time, due to the conquest of Babylon over Israel, and they were writing the books of the Torah down at that point (including the Book of Genesis, which contains the story of the Tower), having only oral knowledge to rely upon. Details of the construction were hardly secrets. The Babylonians were very proud of their constructions and all of the innovations involved.

So, the construction was addressed in the documentary, including how it could be thought of as being tall enough to “reach the heavens” (river mists made it appear as if it reached the clouds and, as we all know, the clouds are in the Heavens).

The Bible clearly points out that the heavens are much farther up than 300 feet, because every mountain worthy of the name was taller than that and so people could walk or hike up to the Heavens were they that low. But Yahweh gets pissed and instead of moving the Heavens up higher he confounds the workers languages and then blows the tower down with a giant wind. (However, the Tower was finished, so confounding the languages of the workers didn’t prevent that, and no wind knocked it down. I know, details, details.)

Then the documentary pointed out that local historians told how when Babylon was conquered by the Persians, the Persians knocked a hole in the tower! The Babylonian god’s temple was not the Persian’s god, so defaced the tower must be. (Another example of toxic religious thinking: Step 1 Kill or Destroy, Step 2. . . . The Persians could have reconsecrated the temple on top of the tower and then had a magnificent temple for their god, but no.)

Later Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and Alexander dismantled most of the Tower, intending to reconstruct it, but Alexander didn’t live long enough to direct that task and, well, things got complicated. The Iraqi people, being nothing if not pragmatic, saw a huge store of building materials just sitting there so up the wheelbarrows came and away went the Tower’s bricks went with them, to be incorporated into roads and buildings nearby.

So, at this point, one would think that the Bible’s story of Yahweh screwing with the workers and creating a big wind to destroy the tower would be debunked, yes? Of course, no. No mention of the rest of the Bible story being complete fiction was uttered. In fact once they got to the facts of the destruction of the tower, the Bible was not mentioned again.

Now, I can imagine in their production meetings that someone stated that mentioning the Bible over and over would boost ratings and pointing out that the Bible story was wrong could result in a backlash. But the blatant sucking up to religionists leaves one thinking, “So, the Bible was right.” Yes, it was right about the construction of the tower, the facts were clearly available, but dead wrong about the theological parts. Bible thumpers often gloat about all of the truths of the Bible, which validate it. But those truths are not theological truths. They are historical truths available to any witness alive at the time and their veracity does not reflect at all on the veracity of the Bible as a source of theological truths.

Postscript If you are wondering why not “The Tower of Babel,” the word Babel is Hebrew for Babylon.

March 26, 2023

Big Bad Dragon

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:17 am
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Republicans are all up in arms over . . . mass killings? Inflation? Climate Change? The Banking System? No, it is TikTok. As I understand it TikTok is a very popular  (with the younger set) social media site which publishes videos of young people dancing, puppies and kittens playing, you know the stuff.

The Republicans have their knickers in a twist because the Chinese are data mining TikTok! Imagine, data mining a social media site! Who do they think they are, Facebook?

Well, the Repubs are seeing this site as a dagger aimed at American Democracy! The Chinese could institute an insidious campaign to turn our young against their elders, against . . .gasp . . . democracy! (As if Donald Trump weren’t doing a good enough job of that!)

I am assuming this is just another round in the Republicans distraction campaign. If they were serious, they would look at how China controls TikTok in China.

China is actually loosening its restrictions on young people TikToking (is that a word?). On March 1, TikTok announced that it’s setting a 60-minute default time limit per day for users under 18. Those under 13 would need a code entered by their parents to have an additional 30 minutes, while those between 13 and 18 can make that decision for themselves. This is less stringent than they had before. The Chinese aren’t worried that the site will undermine Chinese ideology, they are concerned that it is a GWOT (giant waste of time) keeping their youths away from tasks more important: household chores, homework, you know, important things.

The Republicans aren’t interested in TikTok wasting youth’s time excessively. They don’t mind that kids don’t study. The less well educated the youth of this country are, the better they like it. (And going to college is the Highway to Atheism!) Ignorant people are easier to manipulate and make more passive employees.

No, the Republicans need something to do . . . instead of work on the real problems facing this country. When do the Hunter Biden hearings start? And I want to see what the Repubs will do about TikTok before the Chinese find out our youth likes videos of puppies playing more than of kittens playing. Think of the leverage they will have then.

Postscript There was an episode of The Twilight Zone (original series) in which aliens created a family game that was very, very popular and their intent was that the game would affect human psyches. You see, the game was designed so that if you lost you won. They were teaching humans to lose! They were softening us up for their invasion. Maybe the Republicans saw this episode when they were young.

March 19, 2023

Shucking Old Jesus

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
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Note—Since it hasn’t hit midnight yet, it is still Sunday and time for another post on religion. S

Christians are fond of swearing and then saying “No, I didunt!”

I watch a fair number of home improvement shows on TV (get to go through a project with no cleanup) and the favorite exclamation when the rejuv is revealed is: “Oh, my God!” But the Christians will say, instead,  “Oh, my Gosh!”  or  “Oh, my Goodness!” Oh, my goodness? (WTF?) The substitute words for “God” all have the same hard g sound. Gosh is a truncation of an even older exclamation, “Land of Goshen!” Goshen is the embarkation point of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and this makes no sense at all as an exclamation. It is like an American exclaiming “Washington, D.C.” when stubbing their toe.

Christians use a wide variety of substitute swear words in expressions such has:
Gosh darn it
Son of a gun
Shucky darn

Which I translate as:
Shucks (Shit)
Shoot (Shit, again)
Darn (Damn)
Dangit (Dammit)
Freaking (Fucking)
Crap (Shit, again)
Gosh darn it (God dammit)
Son of a gun (this is an old naval term referring to a bastard child of a sailor so it has no religious twist I can figure out)
Frigging (Fucking)
Shucky darn (???)

Now, the thing I don’t understand is, would this fool an all-knowing god? Instead of saying “shit,” you could substitute the British “shite,” would that fool God? Or if you used the German epithet instead “Scheiss!” (shit in German is Scheisse, and you get the benefit of the Germans capitalizing nouns still (English used to)). Would that fool God?

Do you think that this god would hear you say “Oh, my gosh!” and not hear “Oh, my God” in your heart?

Now the funny thing is, you will also hear Christians shout out “Oh, my Lord!” at some foolishness. Now Jesus is Lord, they say. And even old Yahweh says “I am the Lord,” or more straightforwardly “I am Lord.” And a great many Bibles render the word lord as LORD when it refers to you know who. So, this is common knowledge, no? And this doesn’t count as “taking the LORD’s name in vain”?

March 17, 2023

What the Heck is Scientism?

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:59 am
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I am a scientist (and a student of philosophy to boot) and I had never heard the term “scientism” until quite recently. What the heck is it? By implication it seemed to be a term used by theists of the same ilk as those who referred to those who accepted the theory of evolution as “evolutionists.” It was at least mildly disparaging and carried the implication of, “you scientists don’t know all that much.”

So, off the ‘Net I went and gathered some quotes:

The term scientism was popularized by F.A. Hayek, who defined it as the “slavish imitation of the method and language of Science.” Karl Popper defines scientism as “the aping of what is widely mistaken for the method of science”.

Both Bacon and Descartes elevated the use of reason and logic by denigrating other human faculties such as creativity, memory, and imagination.

The 19th century witnessed the most powerful and enduring formulation of scientism, a system called positivism. Its founder was August Comte, who built his positive philosophy from a deep commitment to David Hume’s empiricism and skepticism. Comte claimed that the only valid data is acquired through the senses.

But the core of the resurgence of this obscure philosophical term showed up finally in this quote:

Scientism today is alive and well, as evidenced by the statements of our celebrity scientists:

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” –Carl Sagan, Cosmos

“The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” –Stephen Weinberg, The First Three Minutes

“We can be proud as a species because, having discovered that we are alone, we owe the gods very little.” –E.O. Wilson, Consilience

While these men are certainly entitled to their personal opinions and the freedom to express them, the fact that they make such bold claims in their popular science literature blurs the line between solid, evidence-based science, and rampant philosophical speculation.

Whether one agrees with the sentiments of these scientists or not, the result of these public pronouncements has served to alienate a large segment of American society. And that is a serious problem, since scientific research relies heavily upon public support for its funding, and environmental policy is shaped by lawmakers who listen to their constituents. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it would be wise to try a different approach.

Ahah! Consider “the result of these public pronouncements has served to alienate a large segment of American society.” Since when has a large segment of American society paid any attention to science or the philosophy of science and what causes the alienation? Is it the arrogance of scientists like Carl Sagan?

I suggest that you need look no further than religious apologists. They contend that science is at war with religion because science keeps showing how wrong many religious “understandings” are.

And the eighteenth century in “philosophical matters” in the West was dominated by a gigantic battle between deism and traditional religion. Many deists (not all) claimed that nature was “god” and to show piety was to learn as much about nature as possible. This is supportable even in traditional religion who believed that their supernatural entity created all of nature and so to study “god’s creation” was to get somewhat closer to god, even to traditionalists.

So, this somewhat obscure philosophical term has been resurrected by those wishing to keep science at bay, to keep science from running amuck, to keep science from intruding on the theist’s bailiwick.

Scientism is not a term invented by scientists. It was invented by philosophers actually wanting to overthrow the tyranny of traditional religion.

A side effect of this battle was the creation of the Great Experiment in Democracy, the United States. (More on this later.)

Postscript The Sagan quote “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” basically follows from the definition of universe: “The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy.” (Source: Wikipedia) I do not think this shows an overweening “faith” in science or its methods. It is simply how we defined things. So Sagan may have sounded arrogant but this hardly “blurs the line between solid, evidence-based science, and rampant philosophical speculation.”

The Natural and Other Sciences

Full Disclosure—I was trained as a chemist, so I am by definition a natural scientist. S

The successes of the natural sciences have led other disciplines to adopt the methods and approaches of those sciences for various reasons.

The first scientists were physicists and chemists and a few biologists who built scientific edifices atop the wealth of knowledge collected by various trades. The physicists studying the stars built upon a vast store of knowledge built up by and for mariners. The chemists built upon quite a store of knowledge built up by dyers, embalmers, painters, etc. The botanists started with quite a store of knowledge built up over millennia by ordinary people, especially herbalist “healers.” I say this out of humility. Science wasn’t begun by scientists, it was continued, with methodological advances, from long traditions of studying their topics.

Today we find all kinds of disciplines adopting scientific methodologies; not just using them for support, like archeologists use carbon-14 dating, mind you, but structuring their studies as if they were actual sciences. We have history, psychology, economics, sociology, politics and more all becoming very sciency. And there are benefits to some of those approaches, but not so much so that they could not have been acquired through other techniques.

The difference between the natural sciences and the “others,” is that the natural sciences have a final arbiter of all disputes: nature. None of the others do. Economists talk a lot about “natural experiments,” which are histories of events in which a certain economic concept was engaged. So, they can “test” out their ideas. One example is studies of the impact of raises in the federal or state minimum wage. Some political entity raises its minimum wage, and right nearby another political entity does not. So, what happens? Do people leave the low wage area to get the higher wages? Do business fold under the higher costs of employing their employees? What happens? The problem is establishing cause and effect. The difference in minimum wage is not the only difference between the two regions. (In the “hard sciences” we spend a great deal of effort “isolating variables,” which means establishing what things are changing and which are not. All to establishing that the only things changing are causes and effects.) As a consequence, there is still a major debate, even after numerous studies and “natural experiments,” over what the impact of a change in the minimum wage will be. It also shows that economics is heavily contaminated by politics. Economists with views  popular with one group of politicians get mentioned, asked to speak for fees, prestigious chairs at certain universities, and grants to do their “research.” That’s a kind of natural experiment, too.

In the natural sciences, as I say, if you get out of line Mother Nature ups and bitch slaps you back into line. We have a direction for our questions: we ask nature and nature replies. Those replies are not always unambiguous, so some questions get answered wrongly, and corrected (or not) later.

Consider one simple aspect of the theory of evolution. That theory early on claimed that evolution occurred over vast amounts of time. A very prominent scientist, Lord Kelvin, calculated that the Earth, had it started from a ball of molten rock, exposed to a vacuum, would only take around 500 million years to cool to its then state. This was not enough time for the scheme in the theory of evolution to have acted. So, the question was: how old is the Earth and the answer was “not old enough.” Later it was discovered that the Earth contained significant amounts of uranium. When the Earth was molten, the more dense materials sank and the less dense materials floated. The uranium, being very dense sank out of sight and the radioactivity of that uranium accounted for the rather much slower rate of cooling that Lord Kelvin had supposed. So, the age of the Earth is now thought to be 4+ billion years, which is quite long enough for evolution to have done its work. (Oh, and the material that floated to the surface of “Molten Earth?” That scum contained all of the elements needed to make us and the rest of the biosphere. Yes, we are the Scum of the Earth.)

It is clear that economists “scienced” up their field to make it appear to be more substantial than it really is. (If you want details, read Yves Smith’s quite brilliant book, “Econned.”) Many economics majors are now required to pass calculus in their math studies whereas the economists who came before barely used high school algebra. Having “higher standards” to qualify as an economist makes the field seem more prestigious.

Economics papers now are larded with higher math, making them quite opaque to the general public. This is not unlike philosophers retreating from address ordinary people to addressing only other philosophers through the use of complicated (and unnecessary) jargon.

When I was young, there was a field called “Social Studies.” Today we have the “Social Sciences.” Has this made for any outward improvement in those studies? Maybe so, but I haven’t noticed it if it has.

Now, you may take this as one of the “natural scientists” all puffed up about his own importance. Instead please accept the fact that I loathe when my fellow citizens receive a shuck and jive as opposed to honest treatment. Can history or politics be turned into sciences? I doubt it. No matter how hard they try (and I am not including using scientific tools to reinforce timelines, etc.) they have no final arbiter and so they may end up with the trappings of science (Hey, gang, try on these cool lab coats and safety glasses!) but not the substance.

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